Fix-It Chick: Be sure to choose the right paintbrush

Having the right tools will make any job easier. Having the right paintbrush will make the job easier and smoother.

l For oil-based paints and finishes, choose a natural bristle brush, such as a camel hair or china bristle brush. The split ends of the natural bristles are great for picking up and releasing oil-based products. Natural bristle brushes should not be used for latex paint or other water-based products. Natural bristles will absorb water and go limp.

l For latex paints and other water-based finishes, choose a synthetic bristle brush. Polyester brushes stay stiff and hold their shape well. Polyester/nylon-blend brushes last longer and tend to apply paint more smoothly than other synthetic brushes. Nylon brushes are best for nonpaint applications, as their smooth bristles allow most everything to simply slide right off.

l When it comes to paintbrushes, price matters. More expensive brushes are made from better materials. They hold more paint and apply it in a smoother, more consistent manner. Higher-quality bristles will remain stiff and hold their shape better, making it easier to lay down product where it belongs. Inexpensive brushes will leave brush strokes, and sometimes even their bristles, behind.

l Choose a wide brush when painting larger surfaces and a smaller brush for more detailed work. Angled sash brushes help to push paint into corners and along edges. They are perfect for painting woodwork and thinner areas. 4″ wall brushes work well for big surfaces, and 4″ deck brushes have a removable handle that can be replaced with a broom handle for deck and floor applications.

l Thicker brushes have more bristles and hold more paint, making large jobs go much faster. Choose a thinner-profile brush for more precision painting.

l Before purchasing any brush, take it for an imaginary test spin. Brush handles come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Shorter-handled brushes are perfect for tight spaces, while longer-handled brushes work well for cutting in ceilings and walls. Thinner handles held more like a pencil will apply paint entirely different than a thick-handled brush held by a tight-fisted painter. Wooden-handled brushes work well for most people, but a sweaty-palmed painter may need a bit more texture for a firm grip.