The most common home repair or home improvement project is painting. Paintbrushes are made in all sizes and shapes and are produced using a variety of materials. Bristle brushes are the most common paint brushes as a bristle brush will last for several years if it is properly cared for. Most bristle brushes today are made of synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester or a mixture of the two. Natural bristle brushes are best used with oil-based paints, as the bristles tend to absorb too much water to be used with water based paints. Regardless of what type of brush you buy, you can make your bristle brush last longer, and extend its lifetime for future projects by cleaning the brush thoroughly and storing the brush properly.
Cleaning bucket, solvent or other appropriate cleaning material, gloves, cardboard box, metal brush comb, and heavy paper, such as freezer paper
Soak the brush first.
If the brush does not have a hole in the handle, drill a hole in the handle so you can suspend the brush in the solvent while keeping the bristles from resting on the ends. To clean a brush completely it is important to soak it first in a solvent designed for your type of paint. Brushes used with water-based paints can be soaked in water. Brushes used with oil-based paints should soak in mineral spirits or paint thinner.
Work the bristles clean.
Put on rubber gloves, especially if you are soaking your brushes in paint thinner or solvent. After soaking, gently work your fingers through the bristles to loosen all the old paint. Use your fingers to “comb” through the bristles, working the solvent deep into the brush and dislodging all pockets of paint.
Rinse the bristles in solvent.
Fill another container with fresh solvent and rinse the brush several times in the solvent. If you are using water, clean the brush under running water or in a deep pail of water. Use a metal brush comb or large plastic comb to remove any paint still in the bristles. Occasionally shake the brush to remove excess paint, using a cardboard box or area covered with plastic sheeting to contain the spray. Once you are sure all paint is removed from the bristles, hang the brush to dry, making sure it is not resting on its bristles.
Prepare the brush for storage.
Let the brush dry completely. For long-term storage, it is best to keep the brush free of dust and positioned so that the bristles do not become bent or misshapen. Place a dry brush on a sheet of foil or freezer paper so that the bristles and the frame holding the bristles rest on the paper. You do not need to wrap the handle.
With the brush lying flat, fold in the left side of the paper, so it covers the brush. Then fold in the right side on top of the previous fold. Then fold the bottom of the paper up, so it also sits on top of the previous folds. Once wrapped, it will appear as if the bristles are in an envelope. In fact, we do store our favorite paintbrushes in envelopes to keep the dust and dirt off them. Wrapping the bristles will keep the brush clean and dry until you need it again. Secure the paper in place with a rubber band or a piece of tape and then hang the brush or lay it flat for storage.
New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual, © The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.
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