One of the first things you need to learn as a painter is how to clean your brushes. From your very first painting session, keeping that paint out of the bristles is going to keep those brushes in great condition. Earlier this year, we talked about how to look after your brushes between your painting sessions and how to save your brushes if they are looking a little worse for wear but there are a few things you can do to help keep your brushes in tip top condition...
1. Don't leave your brushes in the water for longer than a few seconds - even if it's just to make a cup of tea or to answer the door.
It is so easy for us to get distracted, doing this can end in disaster and the water doesn't actually prevent the paint drying in the brush!
When we leave our brushes in the water what can happen is the bristles can bend with the weight of the brush and become misshapen. In addition, that water can travel up the bristles towards the handle. Let the handle soak up the water and it will swell and may end up cracking the lacquer on your handle. When the handle dries out again, you may find the ferrule (the metal ring holding your brush together) is wobbly.
2. Keep water away from the ferrule and the handle as much as possible
Just like we don't want to leave our brush languishing in water, we also don't want to submerge the ferrule when we are rinsing it. Whenever possible, keep the level of your water lower than the top of your ferrule. Regularly submerging your brush, ferrule and all into the water to rinse the paint out will mean water is getting soaked up by the un-lacquered wood under the ferrule (resulting in the problems listed above).
This also applies to your brush when you have finished cleaning it. When you have washed your brush, instead of storing it bristles up as you do when they are dry, buy yourself a paintbrush rack to suspend your brush in the air to allow the water to drain off the tip of the bristles and well away from the ferrule. To help us do this we have an inexpensive paintbrush holder like this one that allows your brush to dry with a little help from gravity. (There are other styles try searching "Paintbrush holder/washer or make up brush holder). The key is to find something that will suspend your brush while it dries.
3. Don't keep reloading your brush without giving your brush a good rinse regularly.
We know that when we are in the zone, it can be easy to forget about giving your brush a good rinse. When we are constantly reloading our brush though, a few things happen....
Firstly, the paint can dry in the bristles especially if you are painting outside or in a warm room and secondly, the more we load that brush, the higher the paint will travel up in to the ferrule - an area that is difficult to reach and clean.
One thing that can help you as you rinse your brush is a brush pot with ridges along the bottom. Scraping your brush against the bottom of a brush pot like this agitates all the paint out of the bristles regularly so you have less deep cleaning to do after your painting session. Find one on our Amazon Storefront or Google "Brush basin with ridges"
These may seem like small actions but they make the biggest difference to the health of your brush. Take the time and invest in these items and your brushes really will thank you.