Painting with brush, roller, or rag

If you're about to reach for a paintbrush, consider what you want it to do before you dip it into the bucket. The type and quality of applicators selected for painting are as important to the finished project as the quality of the paint itself. Applicators should be chosen to suit the surface to be painted and the type of paint to be used.

The National Paint and Coatings Association offers the following guidelines:

* Natural bristle brushes are best when working with varnish, enamel, and shellac. They should not be used with latex paints.

* Polyester and nylon bristle brushes are suitable for latex paints.

Brushes are helpful when painting areas with precision, such as corners and trim. Differently sized and angled brushes available include wall, enamel, sash, and angular sash. A quality brush contains four or more lengths of bristles for better paint retention and coverage. A paint dealer can help you select the brush for a particular project.

* Rollers are excellent for painting large areas quickly. The cover fabric and the nap length should correspond to the type of paint being used and the surface being painted. Smooth surfaces require short naps; rough surfaces need a longer nap.

Synthetic roller covers are appropriate for water-based paint. Solvent- or oil-based paints require either a synthetic or lamb's-wool roller cover. Mohair or lamb's-wool covers should be used with lacquers.

Power rollers that pump paint from the can through the roller are also available.

* Pad applicators cover faster than brushes, and the results are just as smooth. These are especially helpful for painting shingles and shakes.

* Airless spray applicators are most frequently used for hard to reach surfaces such as shutters, louvered doors, wicker furniture, screens, etc.

* Aerosol sprays will also easily cover hard-to-reach areas and are a convenient way to give small household items a new lease on life.

Incidentally, to give an elegant finish to freshly painted walls, you can apply a decorative glaze using rags. Rag-rolling is most effective when executed with soft, subtle colors such as light blue and green, brown, pink, gray, and mauve. A neutral yet stylish finish is achieved when a glaze tinted the color of parchment is rag-rolled over a plain white background.

Begin with the application of a fresh undercoat, preferably a mid-sheen oil-based paint. The overcoat to be rag-rolled should be mixed from either transparent thinned oil glaze or thinned oil-based paint in a flat, mid-sheen, or undercoat finish. Transfer the glaze to a bucket and thin with mineral spirits. Then tint the glaze to the appropriate shade, using compatible colors. Apply the glaze evenly with a wide, soft brush to large sections of the wall at a time.

Use a clean, lint-free rag of gauze, net curtain, sheeting, or burlap, and use the same rag throughout the room. The distinctive rag-rolled pattern is made by bunching up the rag and rolling it around in the glaze with a free wrist to make a random yet even design.

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