The most common types of brushes include paint brushes and wire brushes. In this lesson, you will learn about different types of brushed and their uses. You will also learn how to select the right brush for the job, use various types of brushes, and provide the proper care of the brushes to keep them in good working condition.

When you have completed this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. Identify the different types of brushes.
  2. Determine the proper uses of brushes.
  3. Recognize the safety precautions that apply to brushes.



Review Questions


Types and Uses

The types and general use of the most frequently used brushes are listed in Table 1.

Table 1 -- Types of Brushes

The most useful paintbrushes are the flat brush, the oval sash, and the trim brush. A skillful painter using a flat brush an paint almost anything. Flat brushes are wide and thick, carry a large quantity of paint, and provide maximum of brushing action. Sash brushes are handy for painting small items and those hard-to-get places and for cutting in at corners. These brushes and some others common types are shown below.

Common paintbrushes.


The paintbrush is made up of a handle that holds bristles, which are made of natural or synthetic fibers, and comes in various sizes and shapes. A paintbrush is used to apply paint to a surface. Paintbrushes in construction are generally used to paint the interior and exterior of houses.

Wire Brush

The wire brush is a tool consisting of a handle and a brush made up of a large number of steel or brass wire bristles. It is an abrasive tool, used to clean rust and remove paint from surfaces. It can also be used to clean wire rope and chain. Wire brushes will leave marks on soft surfaces and can transfer oil and dirt if they are not kept clean between uses.

Wire brushes can be attachments to power tools, such as drills and grinders. The attachments are available in wheel-type and cup-type styles.

Acid Brushes

The acid brush is a tool approximately 6 inches long with a tubular handle and horsehair bristles. This brush is used for gluing, pasting, soldering or acid application, and hard-to-reach areas. Cut the bristles shorter for a stiffer brush. This type of brush is popular where one-time usage is necessary, or it can be cleaned for multiple uses.

File Card Brushes

As you file, the teeth of the file may clog up with some of the metal filings and scratch your work. This condition is known as pinning. You can prevent pinning by keeping the file teeth clean. Rubbing chalk between the teeth will help prevent pinning also, but the best method is to clean the file frequently with a file card or brush. A file card has fine wire bristles. Brush with a pulling motion, holding the card parallel to the rows of teeth.

Flap Brush

Paint can be mechanically removed with a flap brush. The brush consists of many nonwoven, nonmetallic, nylon flaps bonded to a fiber core. The brush assembly is made up of a flap brush, flanges, and a mandrel. It should be operated by a no-load, 3,200 revolutions per minute, pneumatic drill motor. The direction of rotation is indicated by an arrow imprinted on the side of the core. When a flap brush has been worn down to within 2 inches from the center of the hub, it should be replaced. Continued use beyond this limit may cause gouging due to loss of flexibility of the fiber. When using a flap brush, apply minimum pressure to remove the maximum amount of paint and the minimum amount of metal. Excessive pressure will cause some paints to melt, gum up, and streak.

Using a Paintbrush

The following steps describe how to use a paintbrush properly:

  1. Hold the brush firmly but lightly in the position shown in. Do not put your fingers on the bristles below the ferrule. Hold the brush in a way that will permit easy wrist and arm motion.

Proper way to hold a paintbrush.

  1. When you are using a flat brush, do not try to paint with the narrow edge. Using the narrow edge will wear the corners down and spoil the shape and efficiency of the brush.
  1. Work the paint well into the brush before you start to apply paint to the surface.
  1. When applying paint, dip slightly less than half of the bristles into the can. Draw the brush lightly against the inside of the can, and then apply it to the surface to be painted. Be careful not to overfill your brush; if it is too full, paint will drop all around the work area.
  2. Hold the brush at right angles to the surface being painted, with the ends of the brush just touching the surface. Lift the brush clear of the surface when you are starting the return stroke. If the brush is held obliquely and is not lifted, the painted surface will be uneven, showing laps and spots and a “daubed” appearance. Also, a brush that is held at too great an angle will wear away the ends.

For complete coverage, lay on first, then lay off. Laying on is applying the paint first in long, horizontal strokes. Laying off means crossing your first strokes by working up and down. By using the laying on and laying off methods, you distribute the paint evenly over the surface, completely covering the surface and using a minimum amount of paint. A good rule is to lay on the paint the shortest distance across the area and lay off the longest distance. When you paint a vertical surface, lay on in horizontal strokes and lay off in vertical strokes.

Always paint overhead first and work from the far corner. By working the overhead first, you can keep the vertical surfaces free of drippings by wiping up as you go along. To avoid brush marks when you finish a square, use strokes directed toward the last square finished, gradually lifting the brush near the end of the stroke while the brush is still in motion. Every time the brush touches the painted surface at the start of a stroke, it leaves a mark. For this reason, never finish a square by brushing toward the unpainted area, but always end up by brushing back toward the area already painted.

Care of Brushes

It is important to keep all brushes clean and dry when they are in storage. Brushes are only as good as the care given them. The best brush can be ruined very quickly if not properly treated. Use the following guidelines when working with brushes:

• To prevent eye injury, always wear eye protection while using brushes.

• To prevent inhalation of paint fumes, wear a respirator while working in an enclosed area.

• After using your brush, clean it in warm, soapy water (for water-based paints) or solvent (for oil-based paints) until the water or solvent runs clear.

• The bristles could bend if the brush is left soaking in the cleaner.

• Spin the brush to remove excess cleaner; comb the bristles with a brush comb.

• Store brushes in their packaging to help them retain their shape when not in use. If the original packaging is not available, wrap each brush with waxed paper to retain its shape.

• If you can, hang your brushes; otherwise, lay them flat. Methods of cleaning paintbrushes depend on the type of paint for which they are used. The proper cleaners for brushes used with different finishes are listed in Table 2:

Table 2 Proper Cleaners for Finishes


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Review Questions

 1. In addition to the flat brush oval sash, which of the following brushes is the most useful?

A. Acid
B. Dusting
C. Trim
D. Varnish

2. What type of brush is wide and thick and can carry a large quantity of paint?

A. Acid
B. Flat
C. Lettering
D. Sash

3. What type of brush is made up of a large number of steel or brass bristles?

A. Acid
B. Flap card
C. Pastry
D. Wire

4. What type of brush is approximately 6 inches long with a tubular handle and horsehair bristles?

 A. Acid
B. File Card
C. Flap
D. Wire

5. What brush is used to clean the teeth of a file?

A. File card
B. Flap
C. Flat
D. Lettering

6. The flap brush should be operated with a pneumatic drill motor with what number of revolutions per minute?

A. 2,030
B. 2,300
C. 3,020
D. 3,200

7. A good rule for using a paintbrush is to lay on the paint in which of the following directions?

A. A circular pattern
B. Diagonally across the area
C. Longest distance across the area
D. Shortest distance across the area

8. When painting, which of the following areas should you painted first?

A. Floor
B. Overhead
C. Trim work
D. Vertical surfaces

9. Which of the following personal protective devices should you wear while using a brush?

A. Eye protection
B. Hearing protection
C. Hard hat
D. Steel toe sandals

10. Which of the following personal protective devices should you wear when painting in an enclosed space?

A. Eye protection
B. Hearing protection
C. Respirator
D. Steel toe sandals

11. After using a paintbrush with an oil-based paint, what substance should you use to clean the brush?

A. Diesel fuel
B. Nitrogen
C. Soapy water
D. Solvent

12. If a brush is left soaking in a cleaner, what action will occur to the bristles?

A. Bending
B. Breaking
C. Shrinking
D. Swelling

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Answers to Exercises

1. C
2. B
3. D
4. A
5. A
6. D
7. D
8. B
9. A
10. C
11. D
12. A


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