Choose the best applicator for every job
A new coat of paint or a beautiful stain can make an old room look new or turn
a few pieces of simple wood into an heirloom. Whether you’re painting walls or
varnishing a craft project, you must always start with the right applicators
to ensure a high-quality finished product. Different applicators are suited
specifically to different mediums and surfaces, and it is likely that you’ll
need more than an applicator to complete most tasks. Before you learn about
your options, use the following questions to start assessing your project
Types, Applications and Care
When it comes to shopping for applicators, you’ve got choices of all shapes, sizes, speeds and prices. Believe it or not, selecting the right applicator is just as important as selecting the right paint, stain or finish. Using the correct tools for your project will help save you time and effort while achieving professional-quality results.
Rollers: Standard rollers are great for painting or staining large surfaces quickly, such as walls. Smaller sized rollers and specialty rollers are also available for hard-to-reach areas, corners and rounded or unusual surfaces. When used correctly, rollers will yield a smooth, uniform finish. Roller covers are available in a wide variety of materials and naps for help in achieving different effects. A longer nap holds more paint but yields a rougher finish. A longer nap is also capable of getting into cracks and crevices on rough surfaces, such as stucco. For a smooth finish with semi-gloss paint, a short nap is recommended.
Power Rollers: Power rollers carry their own paint supply and
continuously pump paint into the roller for a fresh supply with every
application. If you have large areas to cover with a single color, a power
roller is likely to save you a lot of time and effort. Power rollers require a
little more hands-on care and need to be disassembled and cleaned prior to
switching colors or before you store them away. Since the cleaning process can
be time consuming, they are best suited to bigger jobs.
Sprayers: Most sprayers are designed for large jobs and can usually be
used with any type of paint or stain. Sprayers create a uniform coating with a
smooth finish for professional-looking results. These too are recommended for
larger, single-color paint jobs due to the required care, setup and
maintenance involved. Paint sprayers make it easier to get into cracks and
crevices, so they’re ideal for fences, decks, siding and more.
Pads and Edgers: Like rollers, pads are available in 9" widths to cover
large surfaces. Pads eliminate the splatter associated with rollers, but they
also don’t hold as much paint. This means you’ll have to make more frequent
trips to the paint tray. Large pads are good for making straight edges along
baseboards and ceilings, as well as painting wall corners. Smaller pads
designed specifically for edging often have guide wheels that run along the
adjacent surface to create clean, even edges. Pads are also useful in staining
floors and other flat surfaces.
Foam Applicators: Brush-style foam applicators can be very precise in
painting details and edging, as well as staining. They’re inexpensive and can
handle water- or oil-based paints and stains. Because of their extreme
versatility, foam applicators are always good to have around. Brush-style foam
applicators are designed for covering smaller areas and for more detailed
finishing. Roller covers are also available in foam and perform very well for
large surface coverage.
Brushes: Depending on the bristle type, brushes may be better suited to
certain applications than others. Natural bristles are recommended for
oil-based paints and stains and should never be used with water-based paints
or stains. Most brushes with synthetic bristles can be used with both
water-based and oil-based paints and stains, but brushes with nylon bristles
are not recommended for use with lacquer or shellac.
Rags: Rags are the traditional tool used to apply stains. Rags aren’t
as fast as brushes or foam applicators, but they do produce a more even
finish. You’ll probably need to apply stain in multiple layers when using a
rag. This produces a uniform look and gives you more control over how dark the
color turns out. You don’t need a special rag to apply stain, just a clean,
lint-free rag. Rags are also used to apply penetrating oil for a traditional
Textured Applicators: Textured applicators are used to help you create
interesting effects with your paint on furniture, walls, ceilings and more.
Textured applicators can take the form of rollers or pads. Texture kits offer
multiple tools with the same texture effect, so you can cover large surfaces,
edges and trim work
|Painting Edges and Corners||
|Painting Furniture and Trim||
|Painting Large Surfaces||
|Staining Furniture and Trim||
|Staining Large Surfaces||
Maintenance and Care: High-quality applicators usually yield better results, producing a smooth, even finish in less time. Low-quality applicators are slow, frustrating to work with and cost more to replace in the long run. When properly cared for, high-quality applicators can last for years to come, saving you money over time and making your projects more enjoyable and better looking. Read the manufacturer recommended cleaning and storage instructions for each of your applicators as they vary for different types and brands. Brushes for example, should be stored in their original packaging to help them retain their shapes.
Threaded Handle: Rollers and pads with a threaded handle allow you to attach an extension rod to them, making it easier to stain floors, paint ceilings and more with less bending, climbing and reaching.
Comfortable Grip: Look for applicators that feel well-balanced and are comfortable to hold. This will enhance your control and reduce fatigue, especially on longer painting jobs.
Purchase the right cleaning solvents to keep your brushes and other applicators clean and ready for use.
Storage hooks allow you to hang your paint applicators to help keep them looking like new.