Friday, November 23, 2012

Annoyed (A Rant About Brushes)

WARNING: This post is a rant. If you're not in the mood, skip it.

So I was hoping to get the first coat of varnish done on the cabinet today, but it's not looking as though that's going to happen. It still might, but probably not.


Well, I was a bit lazy and I didn't leave the house early enough to get what I needed to do it. I wasted most of the afternoon on the web, and then I left after supper. I needed only TWO things. 1: Varathane satin spray (varnish), and 2: a 1 1/2" natural bristle brush.

Since Wal-Mart is nearby, I thought I could find the Varathane there, but unfortunately they only had the Minwax (no thanks). They also didn't have anything decent as far as brushes. While I was there, I looked around to see if there were any deals on DVDs, etc. By the time I left, it must have been nearly 8:00.

I then walked over to Home Depot (which isn't too far, but it's at least another 15 minutes). I found the varnish there, but here's where I got really annoyed (pissed off, really):

They have probably a selection of about 50 or more different paintbrushes available. At least 4-5 different sizes, some for specialty jobs, and some with angled bristles, and even cheap "throw away" and foam brushes.

But out of ALL THOSE DAMNED BRUSHES only TWO were natural bristle. Two (excluding the super cheap throw-away ones). They were in only one brand, and they had only a size 3", and 2", which were both too big for what I need. I really need a 1 1/2" max. I was pissed. I looked through every damned box, and every single rack on the wall, and that's all they have.

All their brushes are now made with "polyester fiber" or "mixed polyester" bristles, which I absolutely can't stand. I hate the way they feel, I hate how they spread paint, I don't like how rigid they are (natural fibers are much more flexible), I just plain hate them. And it's not that I haven't tried them. I have. I just think that they're garbage. I avoid them like the plague. I know people seem to have a very strong preference when it comes to brushes, and that's fine, but synthetic fiber brushes just don't float my boat. I remember hearing rave reviews about Purdy brand brushes being "the best of the best", and I saw them at Home Depot, and I was not impressed with them. First, they were synthetic (yuck), and second they were very pricey. Now I don't mind paying good money for a quality brush, but I wasn't willing to pay a butt-load of cash for a brush I was very likely not going to like.

So now I'm kind of screwed until tomorrow. The only other natural bristle brushes I have are either too big or too small, and then I have my two good ones that I'm keeping specifically for painting the house trim/floors (brush 5 & 6 below).

Basically, I've used only two brushes to paint everything in the entire house. This includes casings, baseboards, all the coloured walls (cutting in corners), the porch, and even the upstairs floors in oil paint. One is a "30mm" (roughly 1 1/4") for detailed work and touch-ups, and the other is an angled bristle 2 1/2". I've cleaned them well, and I've never had to replace them. They also haven't shed too many bristles, and now that they're "worn-in" they haven't lost any more. Similarly, my Dad has brushes that he's used many times over the years (he's probably had them longer than I've been alive), and as long as you clean them well, they basically last forever.

Since this post got so long, I thought I would add a photo. Here's the bulk of my paint brush collection (NOT counting my 100's of artist's brushes). Not shown are 2 other black-bristle (natural bristle) brushes. One is a 1", and the other, I think, is a 2 1/2" or 3". Both of those are in another box and are used only for paint stripping.

1. This is a very large quality brush that was found at a second hand shop along with brush number 3. I haven't cleaned it up yet, but it's in pretty good shape. I believe I paid less than 1$ for both brushes.

2. 2" angled bristle brush. I had forgotten I had this one, and it would be pretty adequate for my current needs, BUT, it had powdery white residue in it, from some sort of white paint or primer. I could probably clean it, but I'd rather not risk getting white flecks in my clear varnish. :(

3. This brush is probably antique. It looks like it's never been used (but it has), and it's had the owner's name "Alexander" scratched into the ferrule.

4. This is a "Shur-Line" brush that I picked up either at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or Canadian Tire, and it's a Polyester bristle (crap). If you want it, I'll mail it to you.

5. This is my workhorse. The paint brush that has touched nearly every surface in my house so far. I don't remember where I bought it, but for some reason, I think it was from Canadian Tire.

6. This is my second most-used brush (for house painting), and I used it when I did the built-in doors.

So yeah, I guess I'll be heading out again tomorrow, probably earlier, to look for a decent brush.

And since I haven't mentioned it or explained it yet, I want the spray varnish simply to do the door (which would be a headache to do without getting runs and drips everywhere because of the intricate pattern), and to quickly do the door and shelf edges (which are also a pain). Pretty much everything else will be done by brush.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, that probably explains my experience with the wall/ceiling brush I bought last month!

    The classic whitewash/distemper brush in Europe is a hefty 7.5x15 cm beast with almost 10 cm long bristles. We used to have several of them, but one broke and the others disappeared, so I decided to pick up a new one. They ranged from €4 to over €20 in price and I grabbed the cheapest one I could get. Last weekend I first used it for painting and was shocked how stiff the bristles are and how poorly it spreads paint. It's easily the worst paint brush I've ever used! And that includes ancient monsters, bristles worn short and half-glued together with old paint.

    It does hold water nicely... it's an old plasterer trick to dip a brush in water and shake it to mist a wall for small repairs.