CHOOSING THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT

Roller rules
The perfect roller would hold a roomful of paint, leave the right amount of texture, wouldn't spray or fuzz, and would be easy to clean. Until somebody invents the ideal one, follow these tips to choose the right roller. "The longer the nap, the more paint the roller will hold, but it will also create more texture." says Dixon. "A 1/2-inch nap lamb's-wool roller holds plenty of paint without too much texture," says Dixon. "Less expensive rollers can work," says Span. "Just wash them first in dishwashing liquid to remove any stray fibers." Most of the pros we spoke with prefer 9-inch rollers over 18-inch models -- they are lighter, cheaper, and easier to use. Despite these shortcomings, Maceyunas swears by the wider roller. "The roller can do a whole wall in a few up and down strokes instead of in several dozen W and M strokes," he says. Use a bucket
Pros prefer 5-gallon buckets with a roller grid to roller pans. They hold more paint than pans and, says Doherty, "It's tougher to tip over a bucket." A bucket also lets you box, or mix, two or three cans of paint to avoid color discrepancies. To use a bucket and grid, dip the roller a quarter of the way into the paint and run it over the ramp to work the paint into the nap. Work with a painter's rod
A painter's rod, or pole, can help you paint ceilings more quickly — no climbing up and down ladders required. And there's no need to stand directly underneath the area you are painting, so you won't catch every wayward splatter. A pole is also great for walls and floors. The pros were split over whether the 4- or 8-foot pole is best for everyday use, but they all agreed that a telescoping rod is the best bet. Buy a better brush
A good paintbrush is key to a professional-looking finish. "A quality brush costs $15 to $25, but you'll discover that pros aren't as talented as you thought," says Doherty. "The equipment has a lot to do with their success." Most of our pros prefer natural-bristle brushes for oil-based paints, but they recommend synthetics for all-around use. When choosing a brush, pay attention to the bristles. Synthetic brushes are made of nylon or polyester, or a combination of the two. Poly bristles are stiffer, which makes them good for exterior or textured work, but for fine interior work, Doherty uses softer nylon brushes. Look also for tapered bristles, which can help you work to an edge, and flagged tips, which help spread the finish smoothly and evenly. Brushes are available in 1- to 4-inch widths. Most painters keep an arsenal on hand to match the job. "Use common sense," says Maceyunas. "A smaller brush gives you more control, but no one wants to paint a door with a 1-inch-wide brush." Doherty recommends starting with a 2- or 2-1/2-inch sash brush. The angled brush makes it easier to cut to a line and puts more bristles on the work than a square-tipped brush.
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