07-19-2018, 01:53 PM
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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Gotcha!  This topic is not about shaving brushes.  If you are disappointed, I apologize.

Our house is getting a L―O―N―G overdue paint job this summer.  We last had the house properly repainted in the 1980s, and, although we had the trim (very badly, unfortunately) repainted by a professional once in the interim, we have had to do with very amateur (-moi-) patchwork in the three decades since.   (In the meantime, my bride and I have painted and wallpapered several rooms of the interior of the house, so we are not completely ignorant of painting.)   The main impediment is ladders.  My rule of thumb is that on any ladder I will not set foot on any rung above the third rung up from the ground, and I very very strongly discourage my bride from going any higher than that, either.  We have a two-story house, with an attic, and the ceilings of the first and second floors are 9½ and 8½ feet, respectively, so three rungs on a ladder do not begin to approach adequacy for accessing the height of the exterior walls for painting.  

For reasons of thrift and loyalty, we engaged the general handyman who has done many small projects around our house the past 15 years or so to paint the walls of the house, and in a separate contract, to paint the window frames above the first floor, but my bride and I have reserved for ourselves the job of repainting the doors (there is a surprising number of them) and the window frames of the first floor, garage, and the exterior stairwell down to the basement.  In so doing, I have caught up with long-forgotten Things I Knew Before, and have learned twice as much as I ever knew there was to be known about the tools of painting.  

Did you know that there are on-line forums where professional house painters debate passionately about various kinds of primers?   You probably know about the differences among oil-base and shellac-base and water-base primers, and about the great Zinsser vs. KILZ debate, but have you ever heard of Mad Dog primers or California Paints (based in Andover, Massachusetts) Trouble Shooter?  I never had.  

But the debates about primers pale in comparison to the debates about brushes:  Purdy vs. Wooster vs. Corona (in which Corona generally scores a technical knockout) and about the Wooster brushes sold in big box stores vs. the Wooster brushes sold exclusively by Benjamin Moore affiliates.  That is where the discussion really gets hot.  

The upshot is that we have found ourselves purchasing a half dozen mid-to-high-end paint brushes in the past month or so, to address specific tasks in our exterior trim repainting.  I had not realized, for instance, that natural bristle brushes are generally considered de rigueur for oil-based primers and paints; all of the eight or nine non-disposable brushes that had accumulated in our house over the past couple of decades have synthetic bristles, but I could not have told you whether they were nylon or polyester or Chinex.  Wait:  “Chinex”?  Chinex is a proprietary duPont synthetic fiber engineered to mimic the behavior of a China fiber; a China fiber, in turn, is a specific kind of boar hair that is naturally “flagged,” a verb that I had not encountered outside the context of certain sporting contests, where it is performed by a referee or umpire.  

With that long prelude, I ask if others here have been drawn into the arcania of brushes.  What have you learned that you previously had not known was there to be learned?  Any insights as to what to look for and what to avoid?  Any special favorite brushes that should get more notoriety?  Any carry-over to your appreciation of the differences among shaving brushes?

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