In theory, painting is a pretty simple task, requiring only a little effort to spread some paint on a brush or roller and apply it to a wall, ceiling or other surface. In practice, however, it’s a little more complex than that. Surfaces need to be prepped, paint needs to be poured and mixed and brushes need to be cleaned. Each of these activities can be made easier by having the right tool handy. Commonly used paint tools include putty knives, bucket grids, paint mixers, brush combs and more. Keep the following questions in mind as you plan out your next painting project to make sure you have the right tools for the job:
• What types of surface preparation tools are available?
• What kind of tools can help with mixing and applying paint?
• What other tools will come in handy?
• How should you care for and maintain brushes?
• What special features are important to you?
Surface Preparation, Paint Tools, Application and Brush Maintenance
The number of available paint tools may seem overwhelming, but bear in mind that some are used for very specific purposes that may not be applicable to every type of project. Also, multipurpose tools can perform the jobs of five or more different tools, helping to save both money and space in your toolbox. Depending on whether you’re using rollers or brushes to apply paint, you may need different tools. If you’re using brushes, make sure you properly clean and care for them to make sure they’re ready to go the next time you need them.
Surface Preparation Tools: Before you can begin to paint, you need to make sure the surface is ready. Preparation involves scraping off old paint and finish and priming if necessary. Wall scrapers and joint knives can be used to scrape off peeling paint, tape joints or patch holes in plaster walls. Putty knives can also be used to scrape off old paint, grease and old finishes from furniture. Use them to chip out old putty as well. You may want to use disposable plastic knives when working with substances like roof-patching tar. Glass and tile scrapers can be used to remove paint from windows. Use painter’s tape to seal off areas such as window frames and borders that you don’t want to get paint on. If you’re applying it to a delicate surface, be sure to select a tape with a low level of adhesion.
• Scrapers and joint knives range in size from 3" to 12" and may have flexible or stiff handles
• Flexible putty knives are ideal for spreading putty while stiff knives are better for chipping and
• Putty knives typically range in size from 1" to 2-1/2"
• Specialty scrapers are designed for use in corners and hard-to-reach areas
• Joint knives can be used to apply joint tape and compound
Painting Tools: Once the surface is cleaned, primed and ready to be painted, there are a number of tools that will help with the application of paint. Paint mixers help you blend paint quickly and easily while strainers will remove unwanted particles and debris from previously used paint. Pour paint into buckets and plastic containers so that you can dip brushes into them rather than directly into the paint can. By using other containers, you’re less likely to contaminate the primary paint can with brush bristles and other debris. Pouring spouts are available in a few different configurations and make it easier to pour paint into trays and buckets. Some snap into the groove around the rim and have a removable inner cover. Others fit on the outside of the can and feature a spout with a screw-off cap. Air vents allow for smooth pouring in this type of lid. A third type of lid has a collapsible spout.
• Paint pads are ideal for “cutting in” corners and creating a smooth finish
• Bucket grids help with stirring paint and remove excess paint from rollers
• Disposable plastic liners for roller trays make cleanup fast and easy
• Add paint conditioner to reduce the prominence of brush and roller marks
• Collapsible spout lids create a flat surface, allowing you to stack paint cans
Other Tools: Beyond preparation and application, there are a number of other tools that will come in handy in certain situations. If you’ve accidentally painted a window shut, use a window opener to get it functioning again without damaging it or the surrounding trim. Extension poles are essential for painting high ceilings and other hard-to-reach areas. Look for poles that lock into place and feature coarse threads to prevent over tightening. A simple button release for rollers makes cleanup extremely simple and convenient. Once you’re finished painting, use a solvent to clean brushes and then run a brush comb through them. Combs straighten bristles to prevent “fingering,” a term used to describe the clumping of bristles that can occur if a brush is not cleaned and dried properly. Sponges and cloths can be used to touch up spots where you may have accidentally dribbled paint.
• Extension poles are available for both brushes and rollers
• Poles are usually constructed from materials such as steel, aluminum or fiberglass that are both
lightweight and durable
• Extension poles can provide reaches ranging from a few feet to 28' or more
• Brush combs are ideal for cleaning dried paint and other debris from brush bristles
Uses and Points to consider
|Preparation||• Wall scraper/joint knife||• Use to scrape paint and patch plaster|
|• Putty knife||• Use to chip away and apply putty|
|• Painter's tape||• Use to section off areas you don’t want to paint|
|Painting||• Paint tray||• Needed for use with rollers|
|• Bucket grid||• Generally designed for use with 5 lb. buckets|
|• Pouring spout/lid||• Available in multiple configurations|
|• Strainer||• Removes unwanted particles from paint|
|• Paint mixer||• Assures a smooth, even blend|
|Miscellaneous||• Brush comb||• Extends the life of brushes|
|• Extension pole||• Allows you to reach high walls and ceilings|
|• Window opener||• Opens windows that have been painted shut|
Multipurpose Tools: If you don’t want to purchase a ton of different tools, embrace the convenience of a multipurpose tool. Some of these devices can perform the functions of five or six different tools. They usually possess a sharp edge for scraping or applying putty, a point for cleaning out and widening cracks, a hole that can be used to remove nails, a side designed for prying open paint cans and hammering them closed and a curved surface that can be used to remove excess paint from rollers prior to rinsing them.
Rubberized Grip: When shopping for extension poles, look for one with a rubberized grip that allows you to keep a firmer hold, particularly if you’re working outside or on an especially high wall or ceiling.
Power-Driven Paint Mixers: If mixing by hand gets you tired, look for a power-driven paint mixer. Simply attach it to your drill, hit the trigger and let the mixer stir things up. Look for mixers with multiple-blade impellers for thorough, efficient mixing.