Quality Paint Brushes
Quality Paint Brushes are they worth it? Seems like an odd question really, as you would think the answer would be yes. Unfortunately, you will still struggle to find high quality brushes in a lot of UK outlets.
Quality brushes are hard to find off the shelf
You will see Purdy Monarchs, a fine brush, I’ll grant you, but you won’t see other Purdy lines widely on sale on a walk-in-and-buy basis. Wooster and Proform (who produce the excellent Picasso) are all examples of excellent quality US made brushes that are difficult to find unless you shop online. Another example of an excellent US made brush line, Corona, bucks this trend by being available at Brewers.
I feel the answer to this problem lies both with the stockists and, to a lesser extent, some painters’ reluctance to change.
UK stockists sell premium paint that deserves a premium paint brush
All stockists are out maximize profits, that is indeed why they are in business. But what I can’t understand is that whilst they will quite happly charge upwards of £70 for 5 litres of a premium brand paint, they are totally unwilling to sell you the best tools to apply it with. I say tools, because I include roller covers in this as well. No, what they want to sell you is own branded gear that has had none of the product testing that the brands mentioned above have recieved, but they want to sell it to you at a comparable price. Now, this might be OK if the majority of these brushes performed as well as their US counterparts, but they don’t. In fact they don’t even come close.
DDC will order you any Purdy brush from their line that is imported to the UK. I know, as I’ve bought many, but what you won’t see is the full range on the rack next to Purdy Monarchs and own branded gear. It’s like they don’t want us to know about angled and semi-oval brushes. It’s like they don’t want us to know about anything other than the Elite Range (soon to be rebranded the XL Elite, I believe). Why, when Purdy also produce a myriad of styles and ranges of brushes?
I understand space is at a premium in stores, and every brush by every manufacturer would be impossible to sell and display. But what we need is choice, even if it’s a small one.
North American paint stores value premium paint brushes
Walk into a local hardware store in any US or Canadian town or city and you will see a staggering choice of styles of brush. Pro brushes happily hang next to cheaper brushes aimed at the homeowner, and I don’t mean the packs of DIY brushes sold here in the big sheds for under a tenner, with bristles not even fit for cleaning oil and grease off an old car engine. I mean DIY brushes that you can actually paint with.
This is because the North American public are aware of the benefits of synthetic and natural bristle brushes in different types of paint. They are also aware of the benefits of angled brushes, square ferruled brushes, semi-oval and the like.They are aware why some US brushes are thinner or thicker with various types of handles. Here it seems we should have to be content with a thicker fill, flat brush with either a beavertail or kaiser handle.
I won’t, though I could, go on at length about my favourite brushes and what I use them in. But I walked into a small Benjamin Moore store on a freezing cold New York day in 2008. This store only sold Purdy and Benjamin Moore brushes, but the choice was very impressive for such a small shop. I walked out of there with 2 x 2″ Benjamin Moore brushes for under $15. These are, to this day, some of the best brushes I’ve ever used for acrylic trim and emulsion paints.
Do UK painters want change?
Well, it seems some do, but others are not that bothered.
I’ve complained that outlets don’t stock the products, but would UK painters buy them in sufficient quantities to justify them doing so? Honestly, I have my doubts.
With good quality 2.5″ angled brushes costing upwards of £12 each, this is going to put many off. The majority prefer to buy multipacks of standard brushes (usually Purdy) at a heavily discounted price. I have no issue paying £20 for a tool that will make my life easier and the job better. But that’s not the same for everyone.
That we need to educate stockists and professionals alike to the benefits of different bristle, handles and angled brushes in differeent products seems patronising. But that is what needs to happen, if the situation is to change for the better.
Years ago, I would use bristle brushes in emulsion and acrylic primer/undercoat and the finish was universally awful, especially in the acrylic primer. But that was all we had. Now I wouldn’t dream of using bristle brushes in anything other than oil primer. I don’t need to, because the choice of synthetic bristle brush is extensive, online obviously, so I don’t have to.
But some painters will still use natural bristle brushes in water based paint, despite there being better options available. Why, when a good synthetic brush will allow you to apply water based paint easier, faster and leave a better finish?
Best brush for each paint type
Some people will also use the wrong synthetic brush in acrylic, emulsion and oil paints. Synthetic brushes have different bristles for a reason. They are tailored to a specific type of paint or viscosity of paint. For instance a thin US made paint, like Mythic, won’t benefit from being applied with a stiff, thick bristled brush like a Purdy Pro Extra. It will leave far to many brushmarks and a better brush for this, probably the best, would be a Corona Tynex/Orel Ontario, because it is soft and supple. But for a product like Sikkens XD Oil High Gloss the Corona’s benefits in the Mythic would be lost because of the heavy, thick nature of the product. The Purdy, however, would be ideal. 2 synthetic brushes, 2 totally different applications.
As I mentioned, cost is a consideration. Many painters are not as obsessive about brushes as I am (believe me I’ve spent a small fortune over the years) instead, they are just happly to stick with what they know.
Thing is, other brushes will work better. But with a lot of premium brushes only being available online, it limits the opportunity for those who don’t research what is available, on the internet.
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