Having paintbrushes in a range of widths means you can always lay your hands on a paintbrush to suit the job. Paintbrushes come in a range of sizes, and a standard kit of brushes 25, 50, 75 and 100 or 125mm (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5in) wide will cover all painting jobs around the home. Use a narrow brush for painting fiddly areas, such as short sections, mouldings, or the glazing bars on windows. For whole walls, one of the larger sizes will cover a greater area per stroke. The sizes in between are for doors, skirtings, window sills and so on.
You might want to add a couple of special brushes to your collection. A cutting-in brush has bristles cut at an angle for painting window frames without smudging the glass. (The alternative, unless you have a very steady hand, is to cover the glass with masking tape.) This type of brush comes in widths of 12, 18 and 25mm. A radiator brush has a long handle for reaching down behind radiators, so they don’t have to be taken off the wall. A paint kettle allows you to decant large tins of paint.
Most paintbrushes are made of natural animal bristle. Treated with care, these will last forever. They are the professional’s choice – in fact I feel that, like men, they improve with age, giving the smoothest possible finish.
Brushes made with synthetic fibres are fine for water-based paint. The bristles of the most expensive synthetic brushes are made from polyester and nylon, and produce a better finish than cheaper types. Since they hold oil-based paint less well, synthetic fibres are only for rough work.
A paint roller consists of a handle and roller cage fitted with a sleeve, which applies the paint. Most sleeves are about 180mm (7in) long, though you can get wider ones which require more elbow work to drive them. Fibre sleeves may be natural or synthetic, but the type of fibre is less important than the length of pile, which is chosen according to the surface. Short pile sleeves are for smooth surfaces, medium for slightly textured surfaces and long pile for uneven and deeply textured surfaces. Plastic foam sleeves are cheap but absorb a lot of paint and can cause splashes. You also need a roller tray into which you pour the paint. Load the roller by running it backwards and forwards in the paint.