If you do a good job with your painting, you will probably purchase high quality paintbrushes, and in order to ensure that those paint brushes stay in tip top condition you will want to be sure to clean and maintain them properly. So, the following are some tips and suggestions for how to clean and maintain paintbrushes properly and extend their life.
Good brush cleaning starts even before the brush touches any paint. In order to make final cleanup easier and prolong the life of your brush, always dampen the brush with the appropriate solvent or thinner for the finish material you intend to use before loading the brush with finish. This is called preloading the brush.
Preloading the brush draws thinner into the ferrule and prevents the finish from drying out on the brush during use. Preloading also prevents the finish from clumping as you apply it. So, as you can see this has several benefits.However, it is not always 100% fail safe. If you use the brush for an extended period of time, and notice the finish material beginning to dry or clump on the brush, stop for a minute and clean the brush.
Remember, not every solvent or thinner will work for you paint project, so the type of finish you use on your brush should be same solvent or thinner used for the finish itself. To find this, check the finish container for the manufacturer's guidance on what solvent or thinner to use.
Once your brush has been protected off the bat you just need to worry about cleaning it properly:
In order to do a good job cleaning the brush you will want to get a brush comb. Then you should dip the brush, up to its ferrule, into the thinner and swish it around nice and well. Use the spiked side of the brush comb to work the thinner into the bristles. Remove the brush from the container. Also, use the brush side of the brush comb to gently remove finish and excess thinner from the paintbrush. Spin the brush out in an empty container.
Dip the brush, up to its ferrule, into a clean container of thinner. Use the brush side of the brush comb to remove any remaining finish on the paintbrush bristles. Spin the paintbrush out in an empty container. Use warm soapy water to clean the solvent from the brush. For natural-bristle brushes, use a quality shampoo to revitalize the follicles in the brush. Rinse the brush thoroughly with warm water.
After it has been cleaned you will want to pat the paintbrush dry with a paper towel. Use the spike side of the brush comb to reform the paintbrush to its correct shape. Then you will want to place the paintbrush back in its original packaging to help hold its shape. If the original packaging is missing, wrap the brush in brown paper and secure the paper with tape. You want to help it keep shape, so store the brush by hanging it by the handle or by laying it flat.
You should also know how to maintain your paintbrushes, not just clean them, so use the following tips to extend the life of your paintbrushes and improve the quality of your finishing projects.
First and foremost, never soak a brush in water, thinner or solvent. As the brush soaks, the follicles absorb the liquid and swell. When the brush dries out the follicles lose their resilience. Dip and swish them, but do not soak.
Next, after use, or even before use, you want to never allow a brush to stand or be stored standing on its tip. The tip will become malformed and will not apply finish evenly, which is the point of using a paint brush rather than just slopping paint on.
Third, Using the right tool for the right job will help maintain the tools better. This is true for all tools including paint brushes, so use the right brush for the job. Use larger brushes for big jobs and smaller brushes for little jobs.
Fourth, when you are painting it is key to never dip your brushes up to their ferrules. You'll end up with dried paint or stain which is very hard to remove from the tops of the bristles.
Fifth, it is essential not to overload the brush. Overloading the brush allows excessive amounts of finish to get into the ferrule and makes the paintbrush difficult to clean.
And, last but not least, you must always clean the brush thoroughly using the cleaning techniques taught previously.