Q: Is there something I can add to exterior latex enamel to minimize brush strokes?

— Brooks, Greenville, Texas

A: Latex does not "flat out" well, as they say in painter's jargon. The body of latex is fairly stiff, almost like whipped egg whites, and once you paint it on it doesn't run together nice and smoothly like oil does. So if minimizing brush strokes is important on a particular paint job, then I'd recommend using a high-grade oil-based enamel and apply it with a China bristle brush. A China bristle brush is made specifically for oil; it's actual hair and not synthetic bristles. And that will give you a good result.

Another technique you can try with latex is first to apply it with a high-quality nylon brush. Then once you get the paint on the surface, play a trick that varnishers use, called "tipping off." You just take the tips of the bristles, which are sort of split out, and feather that lightly across the surface of the still-wet paint. That may also get it smooth enough to suit you.
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