I’m guessing that you’re probably painting with a brush and a roller, right? Obviously you’re not painting with a sock…or at least I hope not! Some painters and homeowners use paint sprayers or painting pads but, the majority of folks use traditional brushes and rollers to apply paint to their walls. Have you ever stopped to ask, “why are there so many choices and, what is the difference between them”? The fact is, there are so many choices because there is a tool for every budget and every type of paint available! With paint technology always improving how paint flows, dries and impacts the environment, brush and roller manufactures design different rollers to be used for these paints. Frankly shopping for the correct painting tools can be just as overwhelming as the color gray you pick out to paint with. My advise is this, if you are painting your entire home, or enjoy painting often, it is better to purchase a quality Purdy or Wooster brush for your upcoming jobs. They perform much better than those throw away kinds and, if you wash after each use, these can last almost forever! What about rollers? Same thing! While roller covers won’t last forever, using the correct roller cover for the paint you are using will not only produce a quality finish, it will help you be efficient with your project!

Sherwin-Williams provides the following guideline for choosing your next tool:

A paint brush is a very personal tool. That is why there are many different sizes and styles from which to choose. A brush is an ideal choice when painting trim, corners and small areas. Also, a specialty paint brush should be used for projects like painting furniture, exterior decks and railings. When selecting a brush, you’ll want to consider the following attributes:

Bristle Type

  • Nylon and polyester bristle: These synthetic materials are designed to hold their shape with today’s popular latex paints. A good quality nylon and polyester blended brush is the best choice for all latex paints and coatings. Many painters prefer a synthetic brush for oil coatings as well.
  • Natural China bristle: High-quality natural China bristle brushes have qualities that control oil-based coatings for better flow and leveling for the smoothest finish. A natural China bristle brush is the best choice for oil-based paints, stains and varnishes.

Brush Styles

  • Angle sash: Bristles are precisely trimmed at an angle that allows painters to hold the brush more comfortably while painting trim and corners. Brush ends are rounded for a smooth, gradual paint stroke.
  • Trim: Trim brushes have a straight cut-line and are also used for painting trim and corners. They can also be used for larger areas. Some painters prefer a straight edge versus an angled cut. Trim brushes also have rounded ends.
  • Wall: A wall brush is a larger brush with a straight cut-line. It is better used for larger areas like walls or side paneling. A wall brush has square ends.

Brush Size
Personal preference is always a factor in choosing a brush width, but a good rule of thumb is:

  • 1 to 2 inches: For small spaces, tight trim areas, touch-ups and detail work.
  • 2 1/2 to 3 inches: For any trim and corner work.
  • 4 to 5 inches: For larger areas like walls or side paneling.

Brush Quality
Better brushes bring better results. Sherwin-Williams has continually been at the forefront of brush technology. Contractor Series offers several different product lines:

  • High Production Brushes: These brushes are recommended for painters looking for superior paint pick-up and release. High Production brushes deliver great results in less time. They pick-up and release more than 25 percent more paint than any other brush on the market. High Production brushes are available in a nylon/polyester blend for latex coatings and in a white China/polyester blend for oil-based coatings.
  • Nylon/Polyester and 100% Nylon Brushes: A specific blend of nylon and polyester filaments make this brush a fine finishing tool that is very durable and easy to clean. The white nylon tips are precisely flagged and tapered for a sharp cut-line. These characteristics have made this line the most popular choice for latex paints for the past 15 years. Sherwin-Williams sells 20 different sizes of these Contractor Series brushes.
  • Although nylon is a soft material, it is also the strongest and most expensive material in a paint brush. 100 percent nylon brushes offer extreme durability, even when used on rough or abrasive surfaces. 100 percent nylon brushes are finished using several hand-trimming steps to create a superior cut-in tool.
  • Black and White China Bristle Brushes: By nature, Black China bristle is stronger and thicker coarse hair, which makes it the perfect bristle to use with oil-based paints and epoxies. The highest quality Black China bristles available are used in the Contractor Series line.
  • White China bristle, by contrast, is soft and thin. A white China bristle brush is the perfect tool for stain, varnishes, polyurethanes and all clear coatings. It lays these topcoats on with a glass-smooth finish. White China bristle brushes are also suitable for oil-based paints if a softer flex tool is desired.
  • Black China/Ox Hair Blend Brushes: Ox hair is extremely fine and soft, creating an exceptional tool for fine finish work. Black China/ox hair blend brushes offer a perfect tool for special jobs or to provide a very soft brush feel.

Roller Covers
Rollers help you paint large, flat surfaces in much less time than a brush. They are also excellent for use on all walls, stucco, concrete or any other flat surface. Here are some options to consider when purchasing a roller cover:

Roller Cover Material

  • Nylon/polyester: Synthetic roller covers are ideal for applying latex paints. They resist matting and hold their shape for a smooth finish.
  • Natural fiber covers: Roller covers that are made from natural fiber include mohair and lambs wool. They are ideal for oil-based coatings.
  • Blended covers: Roller covers made from a blend of natural and synthetic fibers are excellent multipurpose covers and can be used with all paints.

Roller Length
Standard roller length is nine inches. For smaller areas, a four-inch or seven-inch roller cover may be desired. For larger area walls and floors, 14-inch and 18-inch rollers may increase productivity.

Pile Depth
Roller covers vary in nap length. The nap is determined by the surface texture to be painted:

  • 1/4-inch, 3/16-inch: For very smooth surfaces like metal doors and plaster.
  • 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch: For smooth and semi-smooth surfaces like drywall.
  • 3/4-inch: For semi-rough surfaces like wood or a textured ceiling.
  • 1-inch, 1 1/4-inch: For rough surfaces like stucco or a heavily textured ceiling.
  • 1 1/2-inch: For extremely rough surfaces like concrete block.

Roller Quality
As with brushes, the initial extra investment in higher quality rollers and covers will pay off in the final look and ease of application. Lesser quality roller covers may leave streaks or nap fibers on the painted surface. Sherwin-Williams Contractor Series line offers five varieties of high-quality roller covers.

  • Polyester Knit: The most popular roller cover sold by Sherwin-Williams. Specially formulated for today’s latex coatings. The highly crimped fibers offer the best protection against matting.
  • Soft Woven: Rivals polyester knit in popularity. Recommended for both latex and oil coatings, they do a fine job with gloss and semi-glass coatings.
  • Wool/Polyester Knit: Fifty percent of the roller cover fiber is natural wool, which allows for greater paint pick up and delivery. Fifty percent is polyester, which helps the roller keep its shape during prolonged use. The blend results in an excellent balance of productivity and low matting.
  • Merino Sheepskin: Pick up and release more paint than any other roller cover. Many painters use Merino Sheepskin exclusively for any type of coating, claiming it lasts a long time with proper care.
  • Mohair: Features a blend of soft natural angora mohair with synthetic fibers to produce the smoothest finish possible with a roller cover. Recommended for use with gloss and high gloss coatings.