Asked on Oct 13, 2015

Paint brush problem

by Shari
I typically buy Purdy or Wooster paint brushes for my painting projects, as I have heard they are pretty good quality brushes for the non-professional painter. (The one in the photo is a 1 inch angled Wooster which, as I recall, I paid about $8 or $9 for.) Even though I feel like I take good care of my brushes (clean them immediately after use by washing with mild soap and water, and reshape them to let air dry), every single brush eventually gets *splayed* or split bristles. Once this happens, I end up having to buy another brush because this problem makes it difficult for finer detail work like cutting in. It's also frustrating when painting flat surfaces because it prevents a good, clean and even brush stroke.
Does anyone know what causes this and, more importantly, how do I prevent it?
  9 answers
  • Z Z on Oct 13, 2015
    After you wash them to you squeeze out the excess water and reshape them? We press our ends to a point. Here's a picture I decided to draw up for you as my mind is not functioning well enough to find the words.
    comment photo
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    • Z Z on Oct 14, 2015
      @Shari, I was up all night last night so I decided to try the new steam mop vac. It works very well. The only thing I miss is that this one doesn't swivel so I have to move things that I didn't have to before. No biggie.
  • Francesca Francesca on Oct 13, 2015
    you might like to try this: after cleaning your brushes thoroughly leave them to dry. Once dry, bring a pan of water to a gently rolling boil and dip your brush into the water for about 20-30 seconds. Remove and gently shape. Leave to dry by either laying them flat on a cloth, or overlapping the edge of the sink. I haven't done this with very large brushes, but it works every time with artists brushes, so I think there should be no problem. Don't put any other part of the brush in the water except the bristles. Good luck!
    • Shari Shari on Oct 13, 2015
      @Francesca I will definitely try this. If it doesn't work or if it ruins the brush, no harm done since I'm going to have to buy a new brush anyway.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 13, 2015
    I would call the manufacturer and see what they say. It seems you have done everything all of us do.Just a thought.
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    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Oct 14, 2015
      @Shari you could attach a link to this post here indicating that it has a picture of the problem you have described. Do let us know how they respond.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 13, 2015
    Having worked for Home Depot for many years if customers had a issue of certain items thats what I did many times regardless of the product.
  • Meticularius Meticularius on Oct 14, 2015
    The brush appears to have dried paint up in the ferrule (metal part). This is the result of improper cleaning. Once there, it is difficult to remove. For latex paints I wash my brushes and comb them with a painter's comb and brush them with a wire bristle brush (especially from the ferrule downward). In this washing I bend the bristles back and forth several times. I spread out the bristles and let flowing water go deep into the ferrule. Then I spray Mean Green on them and work it into the bristles, turn the brush upside down to drain Mean Green into the ferrule. I let the brush sit a little while, and then I clean it again, using the painter's comb and wire brush. I use Palmolive traditional dish soap for the cleaning, and as a last step I squirt Palmolive dish soap onto the bristles, massage it into them, shape the brush (as described above) and let the soap dry. Then, the next time I go to use the brush, I wash out the Palmolive dish soap and the brush almost always retains it shape. For solvent based paints I clean the brushes with whatever the manufacturer recommends, then do the same cleaning process as I described for the latex paint brushes. Now, it must be said that the way you use the brush causes clumping of the bristles. As designed, the brushes are to be swept across the surface to be painted, keeping the bristles flat against the surface, not sideways as you do when you are cutting in. From the appearance of the above brush I can see that I cut in as you do, turning the brush sideways and using the chisel edge to get a fine line. It is this process that bends the bristles to form the clumps. Because the bristles are essentially plastic, they tend to "remember" the shape and return to it. In the old days, when we had bushes made of different animal hairs. those hairs tended to retain their original shapes and not the "remembered" shapes.But they tended to be "floppy" and not retain their "stiffness" and "spring" (like in springing back into position). A good brush such as those would today cost between $150.00 and $400.00. So, for the standard Wooster and Purdy brushes (I have 38 brushes) you have to retrain yourself to cut in using the flat side approach (difficult to learn and difficult to unlearn the edge method). To prevent as much as possible the deformation of the bristles, you want to train yourself to apply the brush flat side to the surface, and then moving left or right, make the bristles deflect to form a slight curve that points away from the direction you are stroking. Too, more money, a more expensive brush can give you better results. I have been using a $35.00 "oval" 4" brush, or "3" brush for ten years. Keeping it clean has made it last. This includes dipping the brush into the paint only 2/3 of the way, and when paint creeps up to the ferrule, stopping and cleaning the brush. I may do this several times a day, using only Palmolive soap and water. I have irritated several of my coworkers by insisting they stop and clean their brushes while they were "in the flow" and didn't want to stop. But, if you pay $35.00 for a paint brush, you want it to last. -Meticularius
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    • Nadia Najjar Nadia Najjar on Oct 15, 2015
      Thank you for all that wonderful information on caring for our paint brushes...! I'm a Senior lady, living alone, who has always enjoyed doing all my own painting and decorating work around my home and I do try to take care of my "tools" as much as possible. You are clearly a conscientious worker who appreciates the tools of your trade.... :)
  • Kristen Zebley-Bossert Kristen Zebley-Bossert on Oct 14, 2015
    Clean your brushes with fabric softener. An old painters trick.
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    • Janie Janie on Oct 15, 2015
      @Shari A vinegar rinse is supposed to be good for our hair so why not for brushes!
  • Louis Lieberman Louis Lieberman on Oct 14, 2015
    if u are using an ol-based paint u need to clean either with turp or thinner
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    • Nadia Najjar Nadia Najjar on Oct 15, 2015
      @Shari .... Me too.....! Ever since I discovered that there's a water-based version of most of the paints that I would use, I've stopped buying oil-based paints...! Quicker, easier and doesn't have that smell that lingers.... :)
  • 2612805 2612805 on Oct 14, 2015
    Try this and never clean the brush at all ;)
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    • 2612805 2612805 on Oct 15, 2015
      @Shari Its great that you are a neat painter. The My Paint Saint brush is quite different than any other brush on the market. I had to make the bristles extra long so that the container could hold a lot of paint. When the bristles are wet with paint the end of the brush comes to a fairly fine point. The brush appears quite a bit bulkier when it is dry. Although, it may still be bigger than your looking for. The inside diameter of the cup in the picture is 3". Happy painting!
  • Wendy Johnson Wendy Johnson on Oct 14, 2015
    very useful, thanks