How to choose and clean your brushes and rollers

How much does a good brush cost?

Prices for good quality brushes vary between $10 and $25. With so many brushes available on the market, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Selecting the type of bristle, and the size and angle of the brush is mostly a matter of preference. Note that a lesser quality paint needs a good brush – and a good quality paint deserves a good brush!

How often can I reuse my brush and roller?

It depends on the quality of the brush, and how well it is cleaned and stored. A good quality brush can be reused many times for many years. However, the same does not apply to rollers. Every time a roller is cleaned it reduces how well it absorbs paint, creating an orange peel finish on your surfaces.

How should I wash my brush after using it?

Start by squeezing out as much paint as possible against the edge of the paint can. For latex paint, simply clean your brush with soapy water or an appropriate solvent if the paint has started to dry. You can also let your brush soak in a solution of water and white vinegar. Ideally, don’t wait until the paint has begun to dry as this makes the task of cleaning much more difficult.
For oil-based (alkyd) paint, determine the right solvent for the paint you used. Once the brush is clean, reshape and let dry. Because paint thinner is harmful to the environment, never dispose of leftovers in the sink or garbage. Check with your municipality for hazardous waste disposal.

Is a paintbrush comb really necessary?

A paintbrush comb or wire brush makes cleaning your brushes faster and removes excess paint more effectively. Plus, combing your brush helps it keep its shape longer.

How should I store my brush to keep it in good condition?

The best way is to store it in its original wrapping. However, if you no longer have it, wrap the brush in newspaper. Be sure to hang it up or store it flat to avoid damaging the bristles.

Choosing the right roller: what you need to know

The best way is to store it in its original wrapping. However, if you no longer have it, wrap the brush in newspaper. Be sure to hang it up or store it flat to avoid damaging the bristles.

How should I store my brush to keep it in good condition?

Although rollers can make painting easier, the wide range of products available can make the choice difficult. The following practical tips will help you find the right rollers for your project.
As with brushes, the quality of the roller is important. You need to consider the 3 parts that make up a roller: the handle, the cage, and the type of roller cover.

The handle


Handles are made of either wood or plastic, and most are threaded to add an extension. The advantage of plastic handles is that their threads won’t change shape when washed, contrary to wood handles. But regardless of the type of handle, it must be comfortable.

The cage

There exist two types of cages: 4- or 5-wire cages, and metal rods with plastic end plugs or nuts. The 4- or 5-wire cages hold roller covers securely and allow to easily slip them on and off. The metal rod with plastic end plugs is a popular option as it is less expensive while remaining satisfactory. The metal rod with nuts is the cheapest option, but the most difficult to put on or take off roller covers. Above all, make sure the cage rolls easily and gently.

The roller cover

The roller cover is a cylinder with a fibre surface or “nap”. The fibres can be natural: mohair, lambswool, lambskin; or synthetic: polyester, nylon, dacron. Natural fibres are used when applying alkyd paints, whereas synthetic fibres are used when applying latex paints. The type, composition, and density of the fibres affect the outcome of the paint application. It’s not always easy to determine the quality of a roller cover at first, but a poor quality cover will yield poor results.

Nap length and roller width

Roller covers can have short, medium or long naps. The length of the nap depends on the texture of the surface to be painted.

  • 5 to 10 mm (short nap)Smooth surfaces: interior wall, wood paneling, plaster, floor
  • 10 to 15 mm (medium nap)Rough surfaces: stucco, concrete, textured finish, brick and ceiling
  • 20 to 30 mm (long nap)Heavily textured surfaces: irregular surfaces, cinder block
  • Roller widthThe 2 most popular formats are 190 mm (7”) and 240 mm (9”)

Paint tray

A roller should always be used with a tray to allow the roller to adequately absorb the paint. Rectangular in shape, the tray is usually made of metal or plastic. It has a flat bottom to hold the paint and a slanted area to help spread the paint on the roller. Choose a sturdy tray that won’t move around when adding paint to your roller. There exist disposable plastic liners for easy cleaning and recycled plastic liners for a more ecological option. Even better, when using latex paint you can purchase Teflon trays that require no cleaning. Simply leave the paint in the tray and remove the film once it’s dry!

That’s it! You now have the information you need to buy the right brushes and rollers. Happy painting!