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Brush care

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#1 Speedfreak


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Posted 19 October 2013 - 02:50 PM

Just wondering if there are things you can do to extend the life of paint brushes. All of my brushes are red sable and camel hair albeit they are quite old (10-15yrs) some of them are starting to look kind of like the hair growing in my ears, lol! So, can I trim them up and, like I said, is there anything I can do for new ones to extend their life? Thanks.  

#2 Scuderia


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Posted 19 October 2013 - 03:15 PM

Great question, as it seems I'm pretty rough on my brushes. Probably too tough during the cleaning process..

#3 Doug Bowen

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 03:20 AM

I have dabbled in "sign painting" for years.  When I have cleaned my brush in lacquer thinner, I always dip it in a little (just a little) clean motor oil prior to putting it away.  Before the next use, just clean the oil off with some thinner.  Always worked for me.  Some of the quills that I have are 25 years old.  D

#4 Skip


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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:46 PM

Mineral oil is a little better on brushes than motor oil, the new oils have detergents that the old ones never had which are hard on the brush. Used Valvoline for years, switched to mineral oil a while back works just as well and I know there are no additives. Lacquer thinner works great for any oil based paints, gets the hair squeaky clean.

If you have a ultrasonic cleaner you can cycle your brush through it using thinner in the well instead of the regular cleaner, you'll be amazed at the old paint that comes out of the ferrule. If you don't then lay the brushes in a flat pan cover with thinner and soak for the afternoon. Pick up and spin the brush by the handle between the palms of your hand, like you were trying to make a fire. Pulls the dried paint out of the ferrule, then gently dry Shape and oil.

If the bristles are really beat I've heard of using hair conditioner on them, never used it, never had to though. Better yet retire it from painting chores a and get a new one.

Bent bristles can be reshaped using artist's brush conditioner soap. Wet the bristles. Work the brushes hair through the conditioner soap bar, shape. Allow to dry for several days, so it takes a set. Throughly wash out the brush soap dry and check the set, repeat if necessary.

Never, ever dry a brush by pulling it through a rag between your fingers, it pulls the hair out of the ferrule. Instead, gently stroke the brush back and forth until dry.

Don't store a brush standing on its bristles, it bends the hair causing it to set that way. Instead store your brush standing up on the handle. Better yet get a pencil box, store your brushes oiled, shaped and laying flat.

Don't buy cheap brushes in the first place, buy the best brush you can afford then take care of it as you would any fine tool.

Use the proper brush for the job in the first place, don't use your good painting brushes for applying liquid cement, white glue, masking fluid.... Those are jobs for either cheap or retired brushes, use your good brushes for paint only.

With proper care your brushes should last you for years, which in the long run is cheaper than buying several inexpensive brushes and not taking proper care of them. I too have quills and stripers that are probably 25 - 30 years old, some of the hobby and watercolor brushes are nearly as old. All of them still work great almost like they did when I got them only better, they are broken in and taken care of.

Edited for spelling.

Edited by Skip, 20 October 2013 - 12:47 PM.

#5 Speedfreak


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Posted 20 October 2013 - 03:23 PM

Thanks a lot Skip. That spells it out thoroughly which is what I needed. Now I know how to keep my brushes for years!