DIY Paint Tips: How To Choose the Best Paint Brush for Your Project

At Freeland Painting, we provide professional painting services for residential, business, and multifamily properties – but we also know that sometimes people want to paint a room themselves.

This is the first in a series of DIY  Paint Tip posts, in which we’ll provide tips on how to choose the best paintbrush for your project, how to tape like a pro (so it comes off smoothly), how to freehand a straight line of paint, how to paint walls like a pro, how to choose the right paint for each job, how to choose the right paint sheen for each surface, the ideal roller nap for your wall texture, how to clean your paintbrush like a pro, and how to dispose of old paint and paint cans properly.

First thing’s first: Choosing the right paint brush. When you walk into your local Sherwin Williams paint store, Home Depot, or Lowe’s, you’ll find a dizzying array of paint brushes. The important choices you need to make are: natural or man-made bristles, size of the brush, shape of the brush, and quality of the brush. We’ll break down all four to help you choose the best paint brush for your specific paint job:

Synthetic Bristles vs. Natural Bristles

Don’t spend too much time making this decision: If you’re painting a wall in your home, you’re most likely using latex paint, a water-based paint that cleans up easily with water, instead of solvents or mineral spirits.

The type of brush that spreads latex paint best is a synthetic bristle made from nylon or a nylon-polyester blend. A synthetic brush will spread latex paint smoothly and evenly. If you plan to paint more than one room over time and the cost isn’t prohibitive, consider buying a more expensive Chinex bristle brush, such as those from Purdy or Corona. When it comes to paint brushes, you get what you pay for; a high-quality brush can last for years if you care for it properly.

If you happen to be using oil-based paint, choose a natural bristle brush. Oil-based paints aren’t used as often lately as they were in the past because they can be environmentally and personally harmful because of their high volatile organic compound (VOC) content. On our blog, we’ve provided information about latex vs. oil-based paints and the pros and cons of each.

Why Paint Brush Size Matters

The size of your brush will depend on the size of your project. If you’re painting an entire wall, you wouldn’t want to use a small 1.5-inch brush because it would take too long, but if you’re painting a small area or a piece of furniture or mirror, that smaller brush would work well.

For wall and trim, we recommend either a 2.5-inch or 3-inch brush. When painting a wall, you’ll most likely use a roller for the bulk of the work and rely on your brush to “cut-in” around the trim and ceiling of the room. A 2.5-inch brush is ideal for residential painting in most cases.

A 3-inch brush is more ideally suited when you plan to paint large, flat surfaces, such as a fence or deck.

The Right Brush Shape For The Job

Both synthetic and natural bristle brushes come in angled and square shapes. The genius of the angled tip is that it gives you enhanced control of the paint as you apply it, such as when you’re cutting in around trim or a ceiling and want to paint a straight line. We recommend an angled brush for these tasks.

If you’re painting a large flat surface such as a fence or deck, a square brush will work well.

Brush Quality: You Get What You Pay For

While your first instinct may be to buy a cheap brush and toss it after your paint job is completed, consider investing in a higher-quality brush and cleaning it properly. Not only is this an environmentally friendly choice, it’ll help you achieve a higher quality paint job.

When it comes to paint brushes, you get what you pay for. Here’s what Freeland Painting’s founder shared about brush choice:

“The quality of the paint brush is important. We recommend that you get the most expensive brush you can afford. The technology in the bristles will make a huge difference in your painting project, and whether or not you can paint a straight line with it,” explained Doug Ireland, founder of Freeland Painting.

Doug went on to say, “A good, high-quality brush will last for years if you clean it properly after each use. I bought a $25 brush over 10 years ago for our home painting projects, and it’s still going strong.”

Pro Tip on Brush Care

Doug also offered a pro tip about caring for your brushes: The key is to never let paint dry on the brush!

If you need professional help for your painting project, call Freeland Painting. We’ll provide you with a free estimate on your commercial, residential or multi-family painting project.

Give us a call today at 678.679.3126 to schedule your free estimate!

What are VOCs—and Why Do They Matter?

VOCs, short for Volatile Organic Compounds, are a group of chemicals that are found in most paints and coatings. They’re not only found in paints—but they’re also in cleaners, disinfectants, dry-cleaned clothing, permanent markers, glues, air fresheners, and aerosol sprays. But because Freeland Painting is your locally owned painting company in Atlanta, we’ll focus on the VOCs in paint.

One reason VOCs are in paint is to keep the paint fresh while it’s in the can. Once the can is opened, VOCs enable the paint to spread smoothly on the wall or surface you want coated. Some VOCs give paint specific properties—rust prevention, for example. After we paint your walls, paint your ceiling, paint your business, or paint your house, VOCs evaporate into the air. That process is called off-gassing.

Health Effects of VOCs

We’re all familiar with the smell of fresh paint as it dries. For people sensitive to VOCs, that chemical smell can irritate their nose, throat, or even cause a headache. That’s because the paint is off-gassing VOCs, which can have health consequences if you’re exposed to paint fumes for lengthy periods of time. Leaving a door or window open for increased ventilation is a best practice during your interior paint job and while the paint dries. Latex paint dries fast, which is why Freeland Painting uses latex paint for most of its painting jobs, both big and small.

Most VOCs in paint are off-gassed as the paint dries in the first few hours, though a small amount of VOC off-gassing can continue for about 6 months.

Reducing Exposure to VOCs

The US Environmental Protection Agency recognizes that high levels of VOCs can have a negative impact on health, so they regulate the level of VOCs in paint to minimize exposure. According to the EPA, the levels of VOCs inside of homes and businesses are an average of 2 to 5 times higher than VOC levels outdoors. In addition, during the painting process and for several hours afterward, VOC levels may be hundreds of times higher inside than outside. That’s why good ventilation and a fresh air source are critical as paint dries.

Low-VOC Paint Options

In addition to practicing good ventilation during the painting and drying process, the paint you choose can significantly impact the VOC level that is off-gassed in your home or commercial building. Paint manufacturers offer choices in the levels of VOC in paints, with both low-VOC and no-VOC options.

Latex paint has a significantly lower level of VOCs than oil-based paint. At Freeland Painting, we typically use latex paint that the EPA has rated as “Low VOC,” meaning it has a low content of VOCs. Specifically, Low VOC paint has less than 250 grams per liter of VOCs.

Some paint manufacturers, including Sherwin Williams, offer both Low-VOC and No-VOC paint options. For interior painting, we suggest Sherwin Williams Harmony® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint for interior wall and ceiling painting because of its innovative technology and Zero VOC formula that contributes to better indoor air quality one coat of paint at a time. That’s right: Harmony paint not only has a Zero VOC rating, it can also help neutralize other sources of VOCs in your home or business, such as carpets, new cabinets, or fabrics. It can also reduce the odors from smoking, cooking, or pets. Now that’s a high-performance paint!

Best Low-VOC Paint for Exterior Painting

Do you need to repaint the outside of your business, home, or commercial property in the Atlanta area? For exterior surfaces, Freeland Painting recommends Sherwin Williams Emerald® Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint, which is a Low VOC paint with less than 50 g/l of VOCs. That’s five times lower than the EPA standard of 150 g/l of VOCs to qualify as a Low VOC paint. Emerald paint’s long life and resistance to blistering, fading, peeling, and mildew makes the product a high-performance paint that we’re proud to use to beautify your home or commercial property.

And, did you know that Freeland Painting will paint your business or commercial property after hours, so we don’t interrupt your flow of customers? That’s right: We’ll arrange to paint after normal business hours so you don’t have to close or lose revenue to refresh your curb appeal with a professional paint job.

Did we mention that we offer free estimates for painting your business, commercial property, or home? We do! Call us today at 678.679.3126 to discuss how Freeland Painting will beautify your home or business (or both!) with a fresh coat of Low VOC paint.

Let’s get rolling!