House Painting Tools


No matter what the surface, a an essential tool in any house painting project.
No matter what the surface, a an essential tool in any house painting project.

You can spend weeks, even months, poring over paint chips, trying to find the perfect shade to liven up your home. However, if you don't have the proper house painting tools, you're only halfway done.

The previews at the bottom of this page will take you to articles that will show you the different house painting tools available, and help you to choose the right one by answering key questions. What kind of material are you painting? How big an area to you need to cover? How much time do you want to spend painting? When you know your considerations, you'll quickly find the right painting tool for the job at hand.

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When the time comes to dip into the paint, you'll most likely choosing among these house painting tools:

Paintbrushes

Whether you're painting an entire wall or looking to create some fine details, you should find what you're after on this list.

Paint Rollers

For large, flat surface, this is a tool that is efficient and easy to use.

Airless Sprayers

They're a little bulkier and a little more difficult to use, but to deliver the greatest amount of paint in the shortest amount of time, these are the way to go.

For more painting and home improvement information, see:

  • Room Painting Techniques: Brush up on how to use your painting tools properly.
  • Interior Paints: Find out which paint is best to use for your inside painting job.
  • Exterior Paints: If you're painting the outside of your house, see this guide to exterior paints.
  • House Painting: For all things related to improving your home with paint, visit this page.
  • Home Improvement: After you're done painting, learn how you can make other fixes in all parts of your home.

Paintbrushes

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Most paintbrushes have bristles, but some use a foam head.

With few exceptions, paintbrushes fall into two camps: natural bristle brushes, made of animal hair, and synthetic bristle brushes, usually made of nylon. At one time, the naturals were considered the best, but today the synthetics are every bit as good. Besides, you can't use a natural bristle brush with waterbase latex paints because water makes the bristles limp. Consequently, if you're painting with a water-thinned paint, your brush selection is already 50 percent easier.

Buy the best brushes you can afford. If you have to spend a few dollars more for top quality brushes, it will be worth it in the long run. Quality brushes make any painting task go more easily and quickly, and they can be thoroughly cleaned to look like new for the next job. With a little care, good paintbrushes will last for many years of home maintenance.

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Regardless of price, you can distinguish between a good brush and a bad one by examining them closely at the store. Spread the bristles and inspect the tips. The more flags, or split ends, the better the brush and its paint-spreading capabilities. Rap the brush on the edge of a counter; a good brush may lose a few bristles, but a bad one will lose many. Find a brush with long, tapered bristles, particularly on narrow brushes. As a general rule, the bristle length should be about one-and-a-half times as long as the width of the brush (the exception is with wider brushes, often called wall brushes). A 11/2-inch-wide brush, for example, should have bristles about 21/4 inches long. Bristle length gives you flexibility to paint into corners and around trim. Finally, choose smooth, well-shaped handles of wood or plastic that fit in your hand comfortably.

Paintbrushes come in a wide variety of sizes and types and are necessary for those hard-to-reach spots a paint roller can't reach. Here are some of the main types of paintbrushes:

  • Wall. This type spreads the most paint over the most surface. A 4-inch-wide brush is a good choice, though 31⁄2- and 3-inch wall brushes may be easier to use.
  • Trim. A 2-inch-wide trim brush is ideal for woodwork and for "cutting in" around windows, doors, and corners before painting walls with a roller.
  • Sash. A sash brush has an angled bristle end. Available in 1-, 11⁄2-, or 2-inch widths, the angled sash brush makes close work easier -- especially when you're painting around windows. Used carefully, it reduces the need to use tape to protect window panes.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Paint Rollers: Find out when a paint roller is the best tool for the job on this page.
  • How to Use a Paintbrush: Now that you have a good-quality paintbrush, learn how to use it properly, only at HowStuffWorks.

Paint Rollers

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Paint rollers, pads, and trays are essential parts of the painting toolkit.

For large, flat surface areas like walls and ceilings, paint rollers will help you get the job done in about half the amount of time it would take with a paintbrush. Most painters use brushes for trim work and around windows and doors, then turn to rollers to fill in the big blank spaces. Rollers for painting flat areas come in varying widths -- from 4 to 18 inches -- but the two most common sizes for interior jobs are 7 inches and 9 inches wide.

Paint rollers intended for wall or ceiling painting have handles made of plastic or wood that may have been hollowed out and machined to accept an extension handle. They also have a metal or plastic frame that is slipped inside a roller cover. Of the two types, the metal-rib version (also known as a bird cage or spring-metal frame) is best because it's easier to clean and less likely to stick to the inside of the roller cover.

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The type of roller cover you should buy is largely determined by the kind of paint you'll be using, but they are all fiber-covered or urethane-foam-covered cylinders that soak up paint from a tray and then release it when rolled over a flat surface. The rolling action creates a vacuum that actually pulls the paint off the roller. Made of lamb's wool, mohair, Dynel, acetate, or polyurethane foam, most rollers are labeled with the kind of paint for which they are intended to be used. Choose your roller cover accordingly.

The roller package will also identify the length of the roller cover's nap, or pile, which can vary from 1⁄16 inch to 11⁄2 inches. For rough surfaces, use the long naps; choose short ones for smooth surfaces. The pile is attached to a tube that slips over the roller's plastic or cardboard frame.

Paint trays are made of aluminum or plastic and come in standard 7-inch and 9-inch versions. The 9-inch size is most popular because you can then use either a 7- or 9-inch roller. Some trays come with hooks that allow you to attach them directly to a ladder. The trays, of course, are washable and durable. But to make cleanup even easier, buy some disposable plastic tray liners or line the tray with aluminum foil.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Paintbrushes: Learn about the variety of paintbrushes available for all different types of painting jobs on this page.
  • How to Use a Paint Roller: Once you've determined which type of paint roller would be best for the job at hand, learn how to use it properly on this page.

Airless Sprayers

An airless sprayer is a fast and efficient way of putting paint on a surface.
An airless sprayer is a fast and efficient way of putting paint on a surface.
Fix-It Club

For small painting jobs around the home, an airless spray painter makes sense because it is less expensive to buy than a separate air compressor and spray painter.

An airless paint sprayer uses a small electrical pump motor that forces paint through a small hole or orifice to beak it up into a fine spray. The shape of the spray cone can be adjusted for various patterns to match the job. Parts of the typical airless sprayer include the electric pump, power cord, handle, on/off trigger switch, paint nozzle, spray controller and paint container. Some airless sprayers draw paint through a tube from a paint bucket or can instead of an attached paint container.

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Refer to operating instructions included with the sprayer to use it properly. High-pressure sprayers can be more dangerous than those with smaller hydraulic pumps. With the sprayer cord unplugged, remove the attached paint container and pour in the paint; sprayers without attached containers run the tube directly to the paint can. Practice painting on scrap wood or other surface to adjust the spray cone and your technique. For even coverage, spray from side to side overlapping the edge. For even application, move your hand parallel to the surface rather than in an arc.

Maintaining an airless sprayer requires careful cleaning of all components before the paint can dry. Be especially careful to thoroughly clean the paint nozzle. Refer to instructions on the paint can to learn how best to clean sprayers and brushes.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Paintbrushes: Learn about the variety of paintbrushes available for all different types of painting jobs on this page.
  • How to Use an Airless Sprayer: If you've decided that spraying the paint directly onto the surface is your best bet, learn to do it right on this page.