4 mistakes home DIYers commonly make when cleaning paint brushes

Let’s face it, there will have been a time when you used paint brushes once for a room and came back to them a few months later to find them ruined. It seems that old paint and the hair on brushes are pretty incompatible. Some of us have likely chucked the brush down without cleaning at all, and there ends the life of this valuable tool.

Obviously, paying good money for brushes is a sensible investment, but only if you care for them properly. An expensive brush will offer accuracy and a surface free from imperfections but will be a big loss if not maintained. While we all know we should keep them clean, do we all know how to clean them properly? Here are four common mistakes and ways to avoid the worst from happening.

Leaving the brush to soak for a long time

Dunking the brush in a jar and hoping the paint will dissolve away is one of the great futile hopes of all painters. Even worse is the person who thinks soaking the brush for days will miraculously result in a paint-free brush. You will likely end up with a bristle-free brush, especially if you leave it soaking in white spirit or a similar oil thinning solution. These solutions work at the adhesive in the brush, too, so they will reduce the life of the brush significantly.

There is some sense in soaking brushes between paint sessions to keep them from stiffening. However, if you think you are cleaning the brushes for a future job, you will be disappointed when you return to them a few months later.

A quick splash under the tap will do the trick!

Mm, not really; a quick splash won’t do much to clean a paintbrush. An expensive brush is designed to hold a lot of paint. Designers of that paintbrush worked hard to give you a lot of coverage for each stroke, reducing your effort. Therefore, when it comes to the end of a paint session, there is likely to be a lot of paint in that brush. Leave the brush with paint in it, and the bristles will be stiff and inflexible the next time you come to use it. Even if you leave some paint at the base of the bristles, as we have all done at times, you will reduce the life of the brush. The paint will shorten the bristles and make them less flexible for your next job.

To thoroughly wash the brush, use a cloth or some paper to remove all the stored, excess paint. Then, invest in a golf club brush with its metal bristles. While this sounds a little strange, this tool will get in between the bristles and rid the brush of all excess material.

Storing a brush bristle down

The hairs of a brush are designed to be flexible. If you store them in a jar with the bristles down, you will bend and misshapen the brush. When doing jobs like cutting in, it is essential to have an accurate tool, placing paint only where you intended. This accuracy will be lost if you damage the bristles in this way.

A great way to store your brushes is using the hole in the handle. Thread a bar or a piece of string through these holes and hang them up. Some people set up a rail and store them hung as if on a washing line.

Wet brush stored upright to dry

So, now you know that you need to store your brushes with the bristles upright. The problem is that drying your brushes this way can cause your brush to age much quicker. The water in the bristles will run down into the handle and work away at the adhesives holding the hairs in place. Likely, the brush will not dry this way effectively, as the brush is designed to hold a lot of liquid. Therefore, there is also a chance that rotting could occur, especially if left for a long time.

If you want to dry your brushes, lay them flat and put them in the place with the dryest air. You do not want to dry them next to a heat source, merely in a place with little humidity. Then, when you are sure they are dry, you can hang them from that line you have set up at one end of your garage. With this sort of care of your paint brushes, you can be sure to come back to them time and again, and they will offer accuracy and clarity of finish. Alternatively, if you have the likes of a paint sprayer, you can find cleaning kits including lubricants and cleaning needles to keep your equipment in good shape. Overall, what you need is to do a little extra research and take a little extra time to prolong your painting tools’ lives.

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