Types and uses of Brushes and Rollers for painting

Types and uses of Brushes or Rollers for painting

paint brushes and paint rollers

Types and uses of Brushes or Rollers for painting

The most used tool for painting also has its secrets, and it is necessary to know which one to choose in each case and how to use it to obtain a quality painting job. Brushes (in some countries also called paint brushes) are the most used elements in painting. Their easy use and practicality for painting any type of surface make them indispensable tools.


Paint brushes have a wooden or plastic handle, and a group of bristles at its end. They vary in different widths depending on the needs, generally between 20 and 150 mm. The bristle material can also vary according to the quality of the brush, or the type of paint to be used.


Dark bristle brushes: They are indicated for the application of solvent-based paints, such as synthetic enamels and varnishes. They should not be thick plastic bristles of poor quality, on the contrary, much better if they are natural bristles. Gray or white bristles: find their best use in the application of water-based paints such as latex, acrylic or plastic paints. Good quality for a better finish is also valued.


The paint rollers are ideal tools to paint large surfaces with a great time saving. They also don't leave marks or scratches like brushes might. But in exchange they demand good handling and use the indicated one in each case, and with each type of paint. You must also choose the roller according to the surface that you will paint. For example, if the wall is smooth, the hair should be shorter, while for rough walls the most suitable is a long wool roller.


Here are some of the most common rollers

Long-haired: they are made of natural or synthetic wool (polyester). And they are the most used to paint rustic walls, with porous. Its long bristles penetrate the nooks and crannies more easily, getting the job done faster and loading more material.


Short-haired: made of the same material as the previous ones, they are used to paint smooth walls. The objective is to load enough with the necessary amount of material to cover, but with a better finish than is achieved with long hairs.


Microfiber roller: generally, it is a short fiber that covers the cylinder of the roller, and gives a good finish on smooth surfaces and with synthetic paints and varnishes. The thin layer of material and the texture of the cylinder achieve a good finish with just a few passes.


Polyester foam rollers: Also called foam-rubber rollers, or simply sponge. They are used to paint with synthetic paints and varnishes. They achieve better finishes, although many discards them because they usually leave air bubbles on the surface.


The length of the cylinder ranges between 50 and 250 mm. The synthetic wool cover can vary between 5 and 30 mm in length.


How to use the roller or the brush correctly

Although roller painting is fairly easy to learn, I recommend a few basic steps to master the technique. Once you practice in the less visible areas...


You can paint your house without major inconveniences:

1.First load the paint roller into the tray or bucket, rolling it to wet all the wool or foam

2.Remove the excess paint by reviewing it on the textured part of the tray or on its grid. Then on the surface to be painted… move the roller from top to bottom to unload the largest amount of paint

3.Go over horizontally spreading the material, and lastly again vertically.


The painted site should be completely covered with paint, even if it is semi-transparent, and there should be no dripping or excess bubbles. To paint walls, I recommend that you use the W technique, which is a good way to paint and save time.


An extension (pole, cane, extender or pole) can be added to this tool on the back, which will reach high places on walls and ceilings.



If you are working with water-based paint, you can put the rollers in a plastic bag and close the mouth to keep them moist for a short time while you do the work. When you have finished, wash them with plenty of water until all traces of paint are removed. Store the tools preferably hanging so as not to deform the wool or foam.


It is essential that you master this tool to obtain perfect finishes in your work. When you paint, it is not recommended that you load it too much with paint, but it should not be lacking either. It is convenient that you shake the brush with a couple of blows inside the bucket, paint pot or tray, to discharge the excess and then apply it on the area to be painted. The surface should not be overpainted, a thin layer is better, with a better finish and without dripping, even if you have to apply extra coats.


When painting, spread the material with vertical movements, then “comb” with horizontal movements and again with vertical ones. Do not take too long on large areas because the paint will dry and the "joints" will be noticeable, in this case you can use a roller to save time. In the case of painting or varnishing wood, the final brushstrokes should always be in favor of the grain.


Once you have finished using the brush, you must remove the remains of paint so that they do not dry, and thus keep the tools in good condition. If you have used water-based material such as plastic paint, latex, lime paint, sealant fixative or other, it will only be enough to wash with abundant water, until it comes out totally crystalline.


Otherwise, if you have used a solvent paint, such as synthetic varnishes or enamels, you will have to wash them with mineral spirits or the solvent used with the paint. If you have worked with plasticizers or lacquers, wash them with the same thinner used for this type of material.


Cleaning and Maintenance of Brushes and Rollers

Once we finish our work, after painting a piece of furniture or a room in the house, it is time to save the leftover paint for another occasion, and also save the tools so that they can be used again. Proper cleaning of these tools will keep them in good condition for longer and also the finish of our paint jobs will be better.


Washing brushes and brushes

First you must remove all traces of paint, draining the brush on the edge of the can, or with the help of a spatula to remove the material that is trapped between the bristles.


Then wash the brushes with the intention of removing as much paint as possible. In the case of plastic, acrylic, vinyl or latex paints, you can wash them in a container with water; the result may be better if you use warm water. Repeat the process until you see that no more comes out of the tool.


In the event that the brush or brush has a solvent paint, such as synthetic enamel, oil, varnish or lacquer, dip it in a small container with the appropriate solvent, which is usually white spirit, turpentine or universal solvent. If you still notice that the bristles have adhered paint, repeat the washing process renewing the solvent. To remove all traces of it, which may affect the bristles, wash with soap and water, and finally rinse with plenty of water.


If you are not going to use the tools for a long time, store them in a container with the bristles facing up or hanging from the hole in the handle. This is to prevent the bristles from bending or warping.


Roller Washing

To remove the paint from the paint rollers you repeat the same steps as with the brushes:

1.Remove as much paint as you can

2.Wash with proper thinner

3.Wash with soap and water or detergent

4.Let dry and store them hanging


You can remove the cover or liner from some rollers, so the job is done much faster and with less waste of water or thinner. But due to the amount of paint they absorb in many cases, especially with synthetic paints, it is better to throw them away and buy a replacement or a new roller for each use.


Retrieve a Brush or Brush with Dried Paint

When a brush has been stored with paint and it is strongly adhered to the bristles, it is very difficult to remove it, it has also surely lost its shape and the bristles are crooked, which is not convenient to work with. If you still want to recover the paintbrush, you must submerge it for several hours in hot water in the case of water-based paints, and in thinner or some universal solvent in the case of solvent-based paints. White spirit usually doesn't work.


If you still can't soften the adhering paint, soak the bristles for just a few minutes in chemical paint stripper, also known elsewhere as paint remover. Once the paint softens it can be removed with a steel brush or comb. Then wash with water or solvent, according to the type of paint.


Overnight maintenance

If the day is over and you still haven't finished a painting job, you don't need to wash the tools, you just have to keep them wet so the paint doesn't harden. To do this you can submerge brushes used with plastic, acrylic or latex paints in water, and in solvent what they contain solvent or synthetic paints, and varnishes. The next day before using you should remove as much liquid as possible so that when painting it does not drip.


Remember that, although they are not too expensive, through good care painting tools can have a long life. And if we keep them in good condition, this will also be noticeable in the works.

Some rollers for special tasks

There are rollers on the market that can make the task easier and faster. Precise tools for painting columns, railings, borders, or for use with special paints or decorative finishes. The roller is an essential tool in painting jobs, especially for painting walls. Almost nothing escapes from the paint if we have a good roller and a good brush. These are rollers for specific tasks. You may not get all these rollers in the stores in your city, some are even for sale only in some countries, and only for online resellers.

Roller for tubes and curved surfaces

Roller for tubes and curved surfaces

If you want to paint a cylindrical shaped concrete pipe or columns, you may need this roller which can do the job much better and faster. The roller does not have one cylinder, but three or more, which rotate independently, and the axis that supports them adapts to the curve of the object to be painted.

Corner Paint Roller

Corner Paint Roller

 Very similar to a wheel, it is special to fully reach the corners without any hard part of the tool rubbing against the wall.

 You can paint faster than with a brush and without leaving marks. Not suitable for clipping.

 You can find other corner rollers with a polyurethane foam wheel.

Trim Roller

Trim Roller

It is a very useful tool to paint next to areas that will not be painted, for example next to baseboards, the ceiling, and in cuts or color changes. In all these cases it is customary to use a brush, and place paper tape to avoid staining.

With this roller, the work should be done much faster as well as not leaving streaks or brush stroke marks, very evident in satin or glossy paints.

Roller to Paint Bars

 Roller to Paint Bars

 To paint a fence you need to work on one side and the other of the iron with which they are built. With this roller, you could paint both parts at once, since it has two cylinders facing each other that paint simultaneously in the same pass.

Mini Rollers

Mini Rollers

You can also find rollers with a small barrel. These are very useful for painting in nooks and crannies and in hard to reach areas. They are special working on intricately shaped objects, for example a radiator.

You can also get them with a handle (stirrup, end, rod) of different sizes, in the same way the length of the cylinder.

Facade Roller

 Facade Roller

A roller for painting walls outdoors should be long-haired, to store a large amount of paint and thus cover the largest amount of surface with a single load in the tray. On the other hand, the length of the wool makes it penetrate into the gaps if the wall has an irregular texture. The ends must also be rounded, so as not to leave marks and reach the corners.

Glazing rollers

Glazing rollers

Glazing is a technique that consists of painting a wall with a traditional roller, and before the paint dries, pass it with a sponge or cloth which uncovers the previous paint color, leaving a quite decorative textured effect. This roller is used as a replacement for the sponge or cloth.

Electric Paint Rollers

If you want to speed up the work of painting the walls, an electric roller may be a good tool, especially on large surfaces. These are some of its features.  The main feature that differentiates an electric roller from a conventional one is that the paint load is done automatically, avoiding dripping, spilling paint, and theoretically making the job faster. It is clear that it also requires practice and getting used to the tool in order to achieve good results. If you are already used to the traditional trainer, you have solved the problem.

Electric Paint Rollers

SMART Flow Efficient Electric Paint Roller

The system of an electric roller basically consists of: a pump, a special roller, and two hoses (one that goes from the paint container to the pump and another from the same to the roller). The pump simply sucks the paint from the bucket and sends it steadily into the roller cylinder. The energy source used is batteries, or a connection to the electrical network.

This system allows the paint to be applied in a controlled manner, covering surfaces faster, and avoiding splashes and drips, as well as making work more practical. It is not necessary to recharge it, but the paint absorbs it from the container on its own.

Power rollers are used with plastic and latex paints and are suitable for painting large flat surfaces such as walls and ceilings. Many manufacturers add other accessories to improve the performance of their electric rollers, for example a paint quantity regulator, or an extender to reach higher areas - SMART Flow Efficient Electric Paint Roller -Transform a Room the Easy Way and Get Your Project Done Quickly. 

K Brand Smart Power Paint Roller saves time and energy when painting walls and ceilings, allowing you to spend more time enjoying your new, freshly painted room! Our smart power paint roller holds paint directly in the handle, eliminating the need for messy roller trays, dripping paint, and constant trips back and forth to the paint can. 

With this paint stick roller, you’ll have your project done more quickly. This painting tool is battery powered to provide further ease and efficiency when painting a home. Use the power controls to automatically feed paint to the roller without manual.

Popular Science: What is the Composition of Paint

Most of the paints used to paint a house, and the different constitutive materials, are made with compounds that give them special characteristics according to their application. All paints have some basic components which make them have unique qualities and properties. For example, a certain consistency, or special characteristics such as adhesion, finish and color. Basically almost all paints are composed of pigments, fillers, binder and solvent.


For a painting to have color and opacity, it is necessary to add substances, generally in the form of powder. These make the material white, or of a certain hue, and allow it to cover the color or the surface on which it is applied. Not all paints have pigments, and in this case the result is a transparent product and it is generally used to apply on materials that need to be protected but not changed color. Some of these transparent "paints" are varnishes or certain waterproofing agents.


These substances give the paint certain characteristics, such as a greater body or thickness (for example in one coat paint), greater resistance (in floor paints), or a certain finish gloss (matte, satin and gloss).

The Binder

Also called binder or resin, it is the material that, once dry, will form the layer of paint adhered to the painted surface. Over the years, natural and synthetic resins have been used, the latter being the majority of paints today. There are some that do not have a binder, such as home paint with lime, or watercolors used in art.

The Solvent

Most resins are solid or highly viscous, so they need a substance to dissolve in to become malleable during application, this is where solvents come in. With them, a certain consistency is given to the paint, but during the drying process it evaporates. The solvent does not generally determine the particularities of the paint.


Finally, some paints have added compounds that improve their common properties, or add totally new ones. This is the case of aromatic paints with perfumed additives that are released during painting and for a few more days, anti-fungal paints with fungicidal additives that prevent the growth and spread of fungi, and anti-corrosion paints that prevent the rust development on metals. Not all products and coatings for painting are composed of all these elements, but there are many that lack some of them, and in this way they carry out their purpose.

Types of paint thinners or solvents and what they are used for

The solvent is a fundamental element to give the right viscosity to the paint to obtain a good finish, when and how a solvent should be used. Types of common solvents. All paints that are in a liquid state are largely composed of a special solvent for that specific type of paint. This evaporates during drying, so that only the solid elements remain adhered to the painted surface. But in addition, a percentage of extra solvent can be added just before using the material, with the aim of regulating the viscosity of the paint according to the ambient temperature, or the type of tool used.

When and why to add solvent

For example, in winter the paint becomes thicker, making the finish less neat: the scratches of the brush are more noticeable, or the roughness if it is painted with a roller. In this case, a small percentage of solvent must be added so that the paint, more diluted, improves its self-leveling property.

Another is the case if you intend to paint with a pneumatic spray gun, here the proportions of solvent must be higher and it may not be the same as for painting with a brush and roller. For example, to apply synthetic enamel with a gun, thinner is usually used, whereas with conventional tools, white spirit is used. Solvents are also useful for cleaning tools, there is no better option than removing material remains from them with the solvent used to dilute the paint.

A solvent for each type of paint

Each paint needs a special solvent, you need to consult the paint store or read the instructions on the container to find out which is the most suitable.

Water: Acrylic or plastic latex paints, water-based enamels or tempera paint use water as a solvent. In this case it is indicated to regulate its viscosity and wash the tools.

Vegetable turpentine or turpentine: it is made through the distillation of an oleoresin extracted from some species of conifers. It is a very common thinner for varnishes and synthetic paints with favorable properties to improve their consistency and drying.

White spirit or mineral turpentine: It is a derivative of petroleum, and one of the most used solvents for all types of synthetic paints such as enamels and varnishes. Very useful in the application with brush and roller, and for the maintenance of the tools.

Alcohols: There are different types of alcohols that are used as cleaning products, to remove glue and also waxes. But also as solvents, both in the manufacture of paints... and in their application. Some of the alcohols used are methanol (or methyl alcohol), ethanol (or ethyl alcohol), propanol (propyl alcohol), and isopropanol (or isopropyl alcohol).

Nitrocellulose solvent: One of the most outstanding properties of this solvent is its rapid evaporation in contact with air. This quality makes it perfect for applying synthetic paints with a spray gun or torch.

Universal solvents: Generally these solvents are made up of a set of alcohols, ketones and other hydrocarbons, which achieve a good and homogeneous dissolution of paints of different types. Some of the products in which a universal solvent can be used are synthetic enamels and varnishes, nitrocellulose paints and varnishes, epoxy paints and polyurethanes.

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