Paint Brush Care and Maintenance
Safety Precautions for cleaning and brush maintenance are listed at the bottom of this article.
Over the years you may find yourself using a Paint Brush to paint something in the house or something around it. Areas of interior painting or exterior painting concern could include where the weekly vacuum cleaner leaving black skid marks on the baseboards, or those typical 4' high hand prints on walls are all too well known from young parents, to chipping paint around exterior window frames. Other examples seen Painting in Denver Colorado is using a Paint Brush painting a closet door on a Saturday afternoon, but getting called away from duty by some more important family event or need, not really wanting to paint the item in the first place. What ever reason, the Paint Brush deserves it's attention keeping pristine, just as a favored antique tool from Grandpa's Shop, deserves it's cleaning and care.
What ever quality of Paint Brush one chooses to buy for interior painting or exterior painting, (Best is recommended by number of bristles per square inch) techniques listed here coincide with all paint brushes. These techniques will help the lesser quality Paint Brush, as well as the best, making your experience with the tool that's been around for centuries, a pleasant one.
Before you open a gallon of paint, the Paint Brush should be at your side, next to the can. Taking the Paint Brush by the handle, thoroughly soaking it in clean tap water before you dip it in the latex paint (soaking in mineral spirits if using Alkyd or Oil paint) will enhance your brush cleaning later on. Getting the excess water or mineral spirits out of the brush is going to be the next question, as it would be mine, if I did not know it. When using Latex paints, hold the Paint Brush firmly by the end of the handle, tapping the head of the Paint Brush on the end of your shoe or boot, giving a few good forceful whacks. Paint Brush is dry enough to dip in paint, but wet enough for an even flow of paint, and easier cleanup later on. This can be repeated if Paint Brush shows signs of drying out before the painting job is completed. If using Alkyd paints, try just blot drying with clean rag, as whacking on the end of your boot will cause a bit of splatter.
Lets say you were using a 4" Fine China Bristle Paint Brush in some Alkyd Enamel Paint. And lets say the paint did not cover in 1-2 coats being such a dark tint that many do not cover in one coat. What do you do? A good disposable container may be close by in the newly formed 2lb-7oz. Maxwell House Coffee Blue Plastic Container with snap on lid. Cut a small X in the center of lid, filling container up 2-3" of Painters Mineral Spirits or Lacquer Thinner. Placing Paint Brush in container, running handle through lid's X, snapping it shut when not in use, and after each paint application. This will keep it moist and ready for next use, with no cleanup in between, only having to blot it dry on a clean rag next time. Maxwell House Container also makes a perfect cut-in bucket having an easy built-in handle right onto container, for ease of handling painting interior projects or painting exterior projects on a smaller scale. Including caveat "Smaller scale", as normally one would not see a house painting crew show up painting out of blue Maxwell House Coffee cans, although I've heard much stranger things happening with various companies.
Well OK, you don't drink coffee, and the Maxwell House Coffee container was not available, having to resort to next step. This is where some of that extra plastic film and masking tape comes in handy. Taking a loaded Paint Brush, filled with paint, and wrapping it up like a burrito. Using some masking tape, folding all open ends, taping around Brush head for no leakage, ready to unwrap on the next paint application. If storing brush for a longer term, once cleaned, do not shake out excess solvents, wrapping it up, which will enhance original shape and form of Paint Brush.
Plastic sheathing and masking tape was not available at the end of the painting project for whatever reason, I have no idea, but you have a Paint Brush that if not cared for will eventually dry up. Last solution that works well, is to take a sopping wet rag, wrapping the Paint Brush up like that burrito you missed wrapping up earlier. This will buy you some time until either you use the paint brush again, or you can properly clean it.
Another idea keeping Paint Brush moist until the next paint coat is applied (but not leaving for extended periods) is leaving Brush in container, wrapping top with plastic, sticking handle out the top, and taping around the can. This resembles the Maxwell House Coffee Container mentioned earlier. If plastic and masking tape is still not available, and time between coats is not very long, take that sopping wet rag, draping over the top of paint bucket with Paint Brush still in it. This technique works best when using Latex waterborne paints.
Steps to Take if Paint Brush has Hardened Up
Don't try using wire brush on dried caked on Paint Brush without softening the paint first, as this will harm bristles while not adequately removing the paint anyway. Soak in that Maxwell House container using Lacquer Thinner, even if dried paint was a Latex. Taking a long handled BBQ like steel wire brush, brushing out the paint after paint as it starts to loosen up in the bristles. Lacquer Thinners act as a paint remover to Latex as well as Alkyds. This may take several applications and time soaking, depending on how much paint was dried into painting tool. Once cleaned, properly store it wrapping in plastic mentioned above. This cleaning should be done outside over a heavy canvas drop cloth that can be left to dry out also. Once cleaned, keeping the paint brush clean will add many more paint applications for years to come. If bristles have become "Bent" drying that way say in the bottom of a bucket of paint, once cleaned, storing it wrapping in plastic described above will straighten bristles back out to original shape and form.
Important Note-Safety Precautions
Remembering Job Safety #1
- Adequate Ventilation must be available, never use solvents in a confined area
- Eye Protection & Respirator with charcoal filters are a necessity
- Rubber latex gloves keep contaminants and chemicals from skin absorption
- All rags used should be laid out flat, wadded up is a fire hazard and could easily ignite
- All open flames such as pilot lights for water heaters, stoves, and furnaces should be turned off, even on different levels of work space