Traditionally, natural paint brushes have always been seen as superior to those with synthetic bristles, however in recent years advances in the technology used to make synthetic brushes has meant that they are now often the superior option.
Unlike natural brushes, those made with synthetic materials will not absorb water and swell, which makes them ideal for working with water-based paints, including emulsion and water-based gloss.
All paint brushes, including synthetics, are made from the same basic components. A carefully aligned bundle of bristles makes up the head of the brush and these are held together tightly by epoxy glue within the metal ferrule. A spacer plug is placed at the handle end of the bristles, which provides a space to store paint that can then flow down to the tip of the brush. The handle, made from either wood or plastic, is added last and firmly secured to the ferrule. Good quality brushes, available from Hamilton, will usually feature tapered bristles thicker close to the ferrule, which gives more control for the user. Another sign of quality is the amount of resin in the ferrule. If you can squeeze your fingernail in between the bristle and the ferrule, so the pain can too, leading to loss of shape and bristle loss. The ends of the bristles are also often split to enable them to pick up more paint, lay off better and help reduce brush marks.
Hamilton Perfection synthetic brushes and Prestige synthetic brushes are made from 100% solid polyester filaments. To ensure the highest quality possible, the filaments used are chemically tipped and flagged, rather than mechanically. This is done to avoid damaging and blunting the tips.
It is important to consider than synthetic brushes require a different working approach than natural bristle. Not only is the paint drying quicker (when using water-based), but the slippery synthetic filaments are not able to offer the same exceptional paint hold and spreading rate as a natural bristle brush. Though a synthetic brush will require you to work in smaller areas, the slippery surface means you aren’t needing to squeeze the paint out of the brush as much with your strokes.
Cleaning your brushes
Doing this well is essential if you want them to have a long and productive lifespan. If you'll be using them again soon synthetic brushes used with water based gloss can be left overnight in a jar of water - ensuring that the water level is above the paint line on the brush - which will make sure the paint doesn't harden on the bristles. If you have been using oil based paints, then you can wrap in cling-film overnight. For a more careful, final cleaning the first thing to do is to remove any excess paint with a brush comb, then if using water based gloss, wash thoroughly using warm water and washing up liquid. With oil based paints, you will need to use proper mineral based solvents for removal. Then rinse the brush well to ensure that all the paint has been removed, then soak up any excess water on the bristles with a paper towel.
Remember: The softer it feels, the finer the tip. The finer the tip, the finer the finish!
View our range of synthetic paint brushes, perfect for water based gloss.
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