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Wall that has been painted red
It’s not just about the paint – choosing the right painting tools is essential for a top-quality finish.

Smooth operators

You’ve decided on colour, bought the paint and got your drop sheets ready, but have you given serious thought to your painting tools and decorating supplies? If you want to paint like a pro and get the best finish on your walls, choosing the right brushes and rollers will save you from D.I.Y. regret later, says renovation expert and interior designer Naomi Findlay (naomifindlay.com).

“If you don’t have the right tools, more often than not you’ll end up having to do it again, because you won’t be happy with the result and, generally speaking, it’s less effective,” she says. “So, for me, the right paintbrush, the right roller – it’s essential to have the right equipment.” For a home makeover project you’ll be proud of, here’s a list of key house painting supplies to have at the ready.

Pick the right paint brush

There are two main types of paint brushes: wall brushes, which are best for large surfaces; and cutter brushes (also known as detail brushes), used for cutting in and for getting precision coverage on trim areas such as skirting boards and window and door frames.

While wall brushes are cut straight across, cutter brushes are either straight cut filament or angled cut filament, says professional painter Mark O’Connor from Monarch. “Both styles are designed to help you cut in walls and ceilings easily and quickly, to deliver a beautiful and professional finish.”

For getting paint into small areas on finely detailed projects, Naomi recommends using oval brushes, as these tend to hold paint in the centre.

The quality of the brush is just as important as the shape, so choose your painting tools wisely. “The perfect rule of thumb is the softer the paintbrush feels, the better the quality of the brush – the smoother it is, the smoother it puts paint on,” says Mark.

And the difference between coarse and fine brushes is in the finish. “A cheaper brush will not feel as soft and therefore it doesn’t hold its shape well, it leaves brush marks in the paint because it’s too coarse and it’s harder to get a professional finish,” he explains. Brushes with stiff filaments may also be inclined to flare at the end, making it harder to cut a straight line. “When you use a quality soft filament brush, the end of the brush goes to a precision point, which makes cutting in easier,” Mark adds.

What to look for in paint rollers

Nap length and material are the important considerations when painting with a roller. Nap length (the length of the roller fibres) determines how much paint it will hold, so you’ll want to add the right one to your decorating supplies toolkit.

Using a roller with a longer nap on a smooth surface could mean you end up with too much paint, creating ‘stipple’, an orange-peel effect. “The ideal nap when trying to achieve a silky smooth finish on doors is 4mm – this puts on the thinnest film of paint with minimal imperfections,” says Mark. “A 12mm nap is best for ceilings and walls, as it gives a smooth finish but with greater coverage, so you can do two coats instead of three; while a 20mm nap roller loads enough paint to get into nooks and crannies on rough surfaces.”

The best roller material for a general D.I.Y. painter is microfibre, advises Mark. “It gives a smooth finish without losing fluff and is easy to use,” he says. More experienced painters could try polyester or lambswool rollers. “These hold more paint and get the job done faster – but you need to know how to use them,” he warns. To achieve a good finish with polyester or lambswool, you’ll need to roll over the surface once, then go over it lightly a couple of times to smooth the paint.

Person using roller to paint yellow onto a wall

Painting tool tips

1. Invest in good-quality painting tools and equipment that will last longer, saving you money over time.

2. Clean your brushes thoroughly after use and store them in their original packaging or in a jar (with the brushes facing up) so they go the distance. Store paint rollers on their ends so the fibres don’t get crushed.

 

Keen to update your home’s colour palette?

Take on a paint project with our helpful tips and inspiration.

 

Photo Credit: Dulux/Lisa Cohen, Cath Muscat

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.