Brushes, Rollers, Pads and Specialty Tools Brushes, Rollers, Pads and Specialty Tools

Don't skimp here! The quality of your paint job depends as much on the applicators as it does on the paint. A first-time painter with high-quality brushes and rollers can do a better job than an experienced painter with cheap ones. And since you'll have to live with the results for years to come, the better products are worth a little extra money.

Must-Have Tools: For most jobs, the following should be sufficient:

  • A two-inch angular brush for woodwork and windows
  • A two-inch trim brush for areas, like edges, that need extra control
  • A roller frame and cover with extension pole.

Specialty Tools: You may want to consider:

  • Narrow rollers for trim and tight areas (e.g. behind toilet tanks and radiators)
  • Painter's mitt for pipes and contoured surfaces like railings
  • A paint shield for protecting walls while you're doing the woodwork
  • A paint edger with guide wheels (an alternative to masking).

Brush With Greatness: Better brushes hold more paint and hold their bristles, too - that's important to help your job go quickly with good results. Brushes use either natural or synthetic bristles, or a blend. Natural bristles work only with alkyd paints; synthetic bristles work with both alkyd and latex.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'...: For most walls and ceilings you'll use a paint roller. The best generally have a steel frame, a metal cage, and a threaded handle that can hold an extension pole. When selecting a cover, choose a shorter nap (3/16" or 3/8") for painting smooth indoor surfaces, and longer nap (3/4" or 1-1/4") for rougher surfaces including textured walls, masonry and stucco.

Pad Applicators: For edging, cutting in and painting flat trim, foam pads provide a convenient alternative to brushes. Because they're flat, they leave less surface texture in the paint and and they tend not to drip or spatter. Their flexibility also makes them ideal for reaching inside tight areas (like vents of heat registers).

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