19th Aug 2021

In recent years painting technology has changed tremendously. Not only have paints and varnishes improved, but the methods of application, and the tools of the trade, brushes and rollers, have also improved.

There is a huge variety of sizes and shapes, textures and materials to choose from, as well as the consideration of conditions, surface and type of paint being used.  Will it be interior or exterior?

Once you have finalised where you want to paint, it’s time to pick your tools.


Bristling Choices

The first choice to make when choosing paintbrushes is whether to go for natural or synthetic bristle. At Hamilton, we offer both options (you can view our full range of paint brushes).

The first choice to make when choosing paintbrushes is whether to go for natural or synthetic bristle. As a general rule, use synthetic bristle for applying water based paints or varnishes. Natural bristle tends to absorb water based products, which reduces the amount of paint being applied. This also causes the bristles to go limp, reducing the quality of your brushstrokes. On the other hand, natural bristles are ideal for oil based glosses and varnishes, as these are not absorbed by the bristles.

Synthetic brushes:

It is important to consider the size of the area that requires painting. Synthetic brushes can only hold a small amount of paint so these brushes are best suited for smaller areas or sections.

  • Synthetic brushes do not wear as quickly as bristle and therefore last longer, however it is wise to bear in mind, this means they do not ‘break in’ to suit your painting style.
  • Consider the amount of time you wish to spend painting. Synthetic brushes do not spread paint as well as bristle, and need more time for the paint to be worked in.
  • As synthetic brushes do not swell significantly in water, they are less likely to leave brush marks in waterborne paint.
  • Synthetic brushes are easier to clean.
  • There is less chance of bristle loss when painting with a synthetic brush.

Bristle brushes:

When painting large areas, bristle brushes hold more paint which means less time spent loading the brush and more time painting.

  • Bristle brushes, however, are more likely to lose bristles – hence the reason to invest in a good quality Hamilton brush.
  • Bristle brushes tend to spread paint further the first time, which means that the paint doesn’t need to be as worked in, resulting in a better finish.
  • Natural bristle ‘breaks in’ allowing the user of the brush to have better control.
  • As natural bristle swells in water, there is the potential for water marks to be left when using a waterborne paint.
Styles of Brush

For painting smaller areas, such as window frames it is usual to use a brush slightly smaller than the width being painted. This means that your brush does not overhang the edge, which can cause drips. Alternatively you may prefer to use a sash brush which has a rounded tip. These brushes allow you to paint into narrow corners, as the shape of the bristles prevents the brush splaying out and depositing the paint where it is not wanted. As sash brushes are rounded in shape they are easy to turn, and make awkward profiles like spindles easier to reach, while at the same time applying a more even coat than standard brushes.

For fine cutting in on flat surfaces you may wish to consider using an angled sash brush. These usually have a flat handle, with the bristles set at an angle to the handle. The bristles on these brushes are tapered to give you greater control for fine work, and are ideal for skirting boards and panel doors. Many decorators also find them more comfortable to use than standard straight brushes.


Painting with a roller can you provide you with extra speed and versatility and are ideal for painting large areas.

As with brushes, there is a wide range of paint rollers on the market, and again it pays to select the correct type for the job in hand. Generally, the smoother the surface you are painting, the shorter the pile on the roller can be. For smooth plastered internal walls a very short pile can be used, or even a foam roller, which holds more paint, and means less stops to reload the roller. On the other hand, for an external Tyrolean render you will need a very long pile roller. Small, long handled rollers will help you get in behind awkward fixtures for a complete professional job.

Some professionals recommend using paint pads instead of rollers for smooth surfaces. Because there is no rolling action, there is less paint splatter, and the regular shape of the pad means you can paint into corners and edges, so there is less cutting in to be done. However, others suggest that the quality of finish from a paint pad is not as good as a roller. Alternatively, trim rollers can be used to speed up the cutting in around sockets, light switches etc, reducing the time you spend using a brush.

Whichever combination you prefer, it is important not to choose the cheapest brushes and rollers available, as these can leave bristles and lint in the paint you apply, which spoils the finished job.

You can view our full range of rollers.


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