How To Select The Right Paint Brush And Roller

Project Overview

Choosing the correct equipment for your painting job can be the difference between a mediocre finish and a fantastic finish. There are many different types of brushes and rollers to choose from and various painting techniques.

Top quality paints not only give you easier and better coverage, but are longer lasting and easier to clean than low-grade paints. Budget for the best  it pays in the long run.

Good advice
Top quality paints not only give you easier and better coverage, but are longer lasting and easier to clean than low-grade paints. Budget for the best - it pays in the long run.


Always keep tools and materials away from children. 
Read the instructions before beginning your project. 
Never pour paint or paint residue down the drain.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Paint brushes and their uses
2 Selecting a brush
3 The right brush for the paint
4 Cleaning brushes
5 Successful roller painting
6 Brush care and storage
7 Selecting the right roller nap
8 Preparing for roller painting
9 Painting action
  • Step 1. Paint brushes and their uses

    The best width brush for the job: 12mm ‐ 25mm: Best for small jobs and touch-up work such as toys, chairs and timber trim.

    38mm: Suitable for furniture, small panels, window frames, trellis, mouldings, shutters and down-pipes.

    50mm: For small to medium size work ‐ doors, screens, table tops, railings and cabinets.

    63mm: A handy size for outdoor furniture, cupboards, gutters, eaves and doors.

    75mm: For medium to large areas. Fence posts and rails, floor boards, skirtings and fascias.

    100mm and above: For all large flat areas. Most suitable for walls, floors, ceilings, roof, fences.

    Long handled cutter brushes: Specially made for door and window frames and ceiling/wall corner sections. Popular brushes for finishing after roller painting. The tapered edged tip ensures accurate cutting in while the long handle helps to control the stroke.

  • Step 2. Selecting a brush

    A professional looking paint job is easier when the right brush is used.

    Avoid cheap brushes with short bristles and insufficient bristle pack. Choose a brush made of full length fine quality hog bristles. Quality bristles provide more efficient pick-up and steady release (lay-off) of paint, resulting in a more even, streak-free finish. A good brush holds more paint, makes paint application smoother and reduces paint splattering. A quick way to check this is to feel the pack of bristle. It should feel full and slightly resilient. The greater the bristle pack, the better the paint holding capacity and the smoother the lay‐off. Although cheaper brushes will not last as long as premium grade brushes they are quite suitable for the occasional job where finish, quality and brush life are not critical.

  • Step 3. The right brush for the paint

    Heavy oil-based gloss and paints, primers and varnishes require a medium bristle length, solidly packed brush for effective control. Brush the final coat on lightly with the bristle tips to achieve an even no-streak finish.

    Acrylic (water ‐ based) paints are best applied with a longer bristle brush.

    Synthetic filament brushes ideal for use with acrylic paint. These brushes wash up easily and give a smooth finish. Be sure to wash out dry paint forming at the heel of the brush - especially in hot weather.

    When applying wood stain to rough sawn surfaces use a shorter bristle brush. For staining fine surfaces always use a better quality brush Tips for better painting.

    Prepare the surface carefully before painting. Thorough cleaning and smooth sanding will ensure a better finish.

    Flick the brush bristles back and forth before use to remove dust and loose bristles.

    Hold the brush like a pencil, using long, steady strokes.

    Dip the brush only halfway into the paint. Remove excess by tapping gently against top of can.

    Paint with the brush tip - not the sides.

    Brush paint on dry area and work into wet area to allow overlap to blend. Start at the top when painting walls.

  • Step 4. Cleaning brushes

    Rinse in the recommended solvent for the paint used.

    Then wash thoroughly in warm soapy water.

    Rinse well, shake out excess water. Comb the bristles straight and hand shape them while still damp. Hang up to dry.

    Wrap bristles in brown paper and store the brush flat and out of direct sunlight. Be sure that when stored the bristles are not in contact with other objects.

  • Step 5. Successful roller painting

    Various types of rollers Universal Covers: Polyester cover suitable for use with ALL paints including full gloss enamels. Can be used on smooth and semi-smooth surfaces and gives a finish second to none.

    Long Nap Covers: Polyester cover suitable for ALL paints on semi rough surfaces such as brickwork and masonry. Has exceptional paint holding capacity so is also suitable for semi smooth surfaces where heavy coverage is more important than finish.

    Wall Cover: Ideal for all interior broad wall surfaces.

    Ceiling Cover: Ideal for ceilings providing a smooth thick paint film.

    Mohair Blend Covers: This cover gives the ultimate finish to full and semi gloss enamels on smooth surfaces. The most suitable cover for applying polyurethanes, epoxy resins and fibreglass coatings.

    Lambswool Fabric: 100% lambswool specially processed for applying paints. Ideal for PVA and acrylic paints.

    Coarse Texture Foam Cover: Specially designed loops in this cover lift texture paints into peaks for a rich stucco look. Applies all texture finishes in one step. Clean by simply hosing out excess material.

    Medium Texture Foam Cover: Specially woven loops lift texture paints into peaks for a medium texture finish. Applies all texture finishes in one step. Clean by simply hosing out excess material.

    Fine Texture Foam Cover: A very fine foam material gives a fine textured finish. Applies all texture finishes in one step. Easy cleaning by simply hosing out excess material.

    Gloss Foam Rollers: For use with full and semi-gloss enamels on smaller areas such as kitchen cupboards where a mirror finish is required.

    Corrugated Rollers (foam): For use on 75mm corrugated roof and wall sheeting. Fits standard cage frame. Ideal for use with full and semi gloss enamels and roofing paints.

  • Step 6. Brush care and storage

    A quality brush will last year after year and can continue to apply paint smoothly if it is looked after. There are some things you should not do: Never stir paint with a brush.

    Never let a brush soak in water for a prolonged period - it will become floppy.

    Never use a wide brush to paint pipes or narrow strips. This causes the brush to "fishtail".

    Never leave a brush to harden. Clean immediately after use.

    Never rest a brush on its bristles. The weight will curl them, ruining the flagged tips.

  • Step 7. Selecting the right roller nap

    Roller sleeves are sold in short, medium and long nap lengths.

    A short nap, usually about 5 to 8mm deep, does not hold as much paint as the others, but is the best kind to use with glossy paint since it leaves a thin, very smooth coating. The all‐purpose medium nap, about 8 ‐ 12mm deep, holds any type of paint well and produces a soft‐looking stippled effect. The pile of a long nap, about 20mm, works a heavy load of paint into the irregularities of a textured, damaged or extremely porous surface, and can create a deeply stippled effect on any surface.

  • Step 8. Preparing for roller painting

    Rollers need no special preparation unless you are using gloss paint and a new, fluffy short-nap roller. In that case, prime the roller by sloshing it in soapy water to remove loose strands of material. Rinse thoroughly and make sure the nap is dry before you begin. For most rooms, a 1.2 metre extension handle is all you will need to reach high places. Loading the roller with paint Use a roller tray. Crimp a sheet of aluminium foil securely round the rim of the tray.

    Half fill the well of the tray with paint and dip the roller in. It should be a little less than half submerged.

    Lift the roller and roll it down the sloped grating two or three times - but not back into the paint.

    Dip the roller into the paint once more and roll it on the grating until the cover has been evenly saturated. Do not overload the roller or it can drip and slide, producing an uneven coat.

  • Step 9. Painting action

    Painting ActionPainting ActionPainting Action

    Start with a Zig Zag: To paint a ceiling, begin about 1 metre from the corner and roll towards the corner - the first stroke with a newly loaded roller should always be away from you. Without lifting the roller from the surface, continue to make a "W" pattern about 1 metre square (Fig 1).

    To paint a wall, push the roller upwards on the first stroke ‐ away from you ‐ and complete the "M" pattern (Fig 2). The initial strokes spread the heaviest part of the paint load evenly over the section.

    Filling in: After completing an "M" or a "W", begin filling in a 1 metre square by criss-crossing strokes of the roller without lifting it from the surface (Figure 3). Each stroke should be about 450mm to 600mm long. Use even pressure to avoid bubbles and blotches, and stop when the entire section is evenly covered with paint.

    Moving your roller in one direction may produce more of a stippled effect than moving it in the other . Bear this in mind when doing your final strokes. Move along to the next section, load the roller again and repeat the sequence.

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions which came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings team member.

Top of the content