If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll notice that we’re always talking about the importance of preparation when starting a decorating project. Apart from the obvious skill difference, this is one of the steps that separates the amateur from the professional – the other one is how you take care of your equipment.
This month we’re going to give you our top tips on taking care of these crucial tools so that they’ll give you years of great service. Here’s a quick guide on how to wash paintbrushes after (and during!) use…
Should I keep them or ditch them?
There’s a temptation to buy cheap brushes and throw them in the bin after use, and while this is an option it’s not great for the environment or your decorating projects! In a previous blog where we offered our advice on choosing a paint brush, we talked about the false economy of buying cheap brushes – they’re often poorly made, drop bristles like an old Christmas tree, and leave streak marks in your finish. It’s definitely worth buying quality gear and taking care of it!
Well done! You’ve finished your decorating and feel like putting your feet up, but ten minutes with your brushes at this point is time well spent:
- Begin by scraping as much excess paint back into the tin as you can – waste not, want not!
- For water-based paints, fill a bucket with warm soapy water and work as much of the paint out of the bristles with your fingers as possible.
- Repeat this process with fresh soapy water until the brush is clean.
- Flick the brush dry outdoors – do it inside another big bucket if you’re worried about spraying paint residue around the garden.
- Repeat the cleaning and drying process in fresh water but without the soap.
- Wrap the brush up in thick paper and store.
Oil-based paints will require thinners, but don’t be tempted to soak your brushes because you’ll risk damaging the bristles. Follow the same basic process as with water-based paint:
- Scrape off excess paint.
- Pour the manufacturer’s recommended thinners into a small tub.
- Dip your brush up and down and swirl around to work the thinners into the bristles – don’t use your hands!
- Shake off into a big bucket or safe open space.
- Repeat the cleaning and drying process again with fresh thinners.
- Wrap the brush in paper and store.
If you follow this simple process your brushes should serve you well for years, but you can increase their life further by always using the same brushes for water and oil based paints – mixing them up will make them harder to clean and damage the bristles.
Storing during the job
If you’re in the middle of a big decorating project, it’s not necessary to clean your brushes every night – but you will need to store them in a manner that doesn’t ruin them. Scrape off any excess paint, wrap them in clingfilm and use masking tape around the handles to keep them airtight overnight. They’ll be perfectly usable the next day.
Congratulations! You’ve taken another step towards decorating like a pro and can now relax with that cup of tea knowing that next time you need those brushes they’ll be in tip-top condition!