Rounding-up the best painting tools
Here at The Family Handyman, we spend
a lot of time painting—on the projects
you see in the magazine, at job sites, in
our own homes. And nobody spends
more time (or money) looking for better
ways to paint: Whenever we see a new
painting gadget, we buy it and try it, and
we’re always pestering painting pros for
their recommendations. And this year we
asked our Field Editors to pitch in from
across North America. We added up all
that effort and experience and came up
with this collection of painting gear.
Sturdy aluminum bench
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This bench is lightweight, sturdy and tall enough for most homeowners to reach the ceiling.
Everyone who tries this sturdy aluminum bench wants
one. We use it as a temporary paint mixing and pouring
platform, stand on it to cut in along the ceiling, and sit on
it during coffee breaks. It's lightweight and folds up flat for
easy storage. It's a good value, too. You can pick one up at home centers for about $45.
Easy-clean Chinex brush
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Cut your brush-cleaning time
in half. A quick rinse is usually
all you need to get these brushes
The editors here love
Chinex bristle paintbrushes.
But it’s not just
us. Our set builder doesn’t
use anything else. And the
pros we talked with agree
that paintbrushes made
with Chinex bristles are
nearly perfect. They work
equally well for oil-base
and water-base paints. But
the best feature of Chinex
bristles is how easy they
are to clean. Many of the
new formulations of water-base
paint dry quickly and
stick tenaciously to other
types of synthetic bristles,
leaving you with a tough
cleanup job. Chinex bristles
solve this problem. Paint rinses out easily, giving
you a brush that’s “like-new” clean. Corona, Wooster
and Purdy make brushes with Chinex bristles. Expect to
spend $15 to $20 for a 2-1/2-in. Chinex bristle brush.
A better edge-painting tool
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Edge-painting tool in action
Connect a pole to the ceiling-edging tool and you can paint along
the ceiling without even getting on a ladder.
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Close-up of edge-painting tool
A small brush on the tool cuts a clean paint line.
If you don’t paint every day, “cutting-in” a room can be frustrating.
It’s no wonder there have been so many attempts
over the years to make a tool that simplifies the task. The
Accubrush edge-painting tool is one of the best we’ve tried.
It makes cutting-in quick and easy. With just a little practice,
you can paint perfectly straight lines along ceilings and
moldings. You’ll still have to finish some areas
with a brush, though, since the tool can’t paint
right up to adjacent edges. Go to painthelpers.com to see a video of how it works and
to purchase the tool. Prices range from
$40 to $125 depending on the kit you
Pro masking tool
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Masking tool in action
Mask off baseboards quickly with a hand-masking tool. It applies
the tape to the paper and cuts it to the right length with a twist
of your wrist.
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Close-up of masking tool
Load this tool with rolls of tape and paper and apply them simultaneously.
The 3M Hand-Masker is popular with painting contractors
because it provides a fast, affordable and convenient
way to cover trim or walls with masking tape, paper and
plastic to keep the paint off. But these masking machines
aren’t just for pros. If you do a lot of painting and are looking
for a quick way to protect woodwork, doors, windows
and cabinets from paint spatters, check these out. The
least expensive version (shown here) costs about $20. It
comes with a 6-in. blade that can be extended to 12 in.
These Hand-Maskers hold a roll of masking tape and a roll
of paper and apply the tape to the edge of the paper as you
pull it out. You use the blade to cut the paper and tape to
the desired length. You can even buy a roll of super-thin
plastic sheeting and use that instead
of paper to cover walls or other
large areas. You’ll find
at paint stores,
Handy paint pail
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The Handy Paint Pail is easy to hold without hand fatigue.
We tried all kinds of paint containers and came to a
unanimous conclusion: Nothing beats the Handy Paint
Pail because it has a comfortable, stretchy rubber handle
that makes the pail easy to hold with one hand. Better
yet, a magnetic brush holder lets you suspend the brush
in paint when it’s not in use so the bristles don’t dry out.
And disposable liners are available so you can avoid the
messy job of cleaning the paint pail once you’re done.
You’ll find the Handy Paint Pail ($10) at home centers,
hardware stores and paint stores.
Hot paint stripper
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Infrared stripping tool
Remove old paint with heat instead of chemicals. Soften the
paint with the infrared stripping tool. Then remove it with a sharp
scraper while it's still warm.
Stripping paint is tough work no matter how you do it.
But we like this tool because it eliminates nasty chemicals
and dangerous dust. Old-timers may remember using
torches to loosen paint for scraping. The Speedheater
uses infrared heat to do the same thing, but at a lower,
safer temperature. You don’t have to worry about burning
down your house or breathing dangerous fumes caused by
vaporized lead in the paint. It does get hot, so make sure
to follow the instructions and safety precautions carefully.
A Speedheater kit ($473—ouch!) that includes a case and
scrapers is available online at speedheaterstore.com.
Easy-off roller frame
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Quick cover release roller frame
Rap the frame against the edge of the laundry tub or the lip of a
5-gallon bucket. The roller will pop off.
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Close-up of roller frame
Springs release the roller cover with a simple rap on a bucket.
There are a lot of roller frames on the
market, but we like this one the best. Like
it’s sturdy, so it
doesn’t bend when
you apply pressure. And
it has better bearing surfaces
than cheap frames for easy, squeakfree
rolling. But the feature that really sets this roller
frame apart is the quick-release springs that hold the roller
cover firmly in place while you’re rolling and yet release
easily when you want to remove the roller for cleaning. You
simply rap the metal frame against the edge of a bucket or
laundry tub and the roller cover pops off—no more struggling
to get a slippery, paint covered roller cover off the
frame. Sherlock frames also have a hexagon recess and holes
in the bottom of the handle to accept a matching Sherlock
extension pole (see “Quick-Connect Paint Pole” below).
You’ll find Sherlock frames (about $8) at home centers and
Versatile brush comb
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Keep your brushes in top-notch shape by combing the
bristles before you wrap them for storage.
A brush comb is an essential tool for keeping
your paintbrushes in top-notch shape. This
Warner version adds a few features that make it
our top pick. In addition to two brush combs, it
has a semicircular cutout you can use to squeegee
excess paint from your roller prior to cleaning,
and a nub on the end to clean paint can rims.
Check your local paint stores and home centers
or search online for Warner No. 279 Brush and
Roller Cleaner (about $3).
Speedy roller cleaner
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Roller cleaner in action
Cleaning roller covers couldn't be easier.
Just slip them into the tube and turn on
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Close-up of roller cleaner
This cleaner saves high quality rollers for frequent reuse.
The Rejuv-a-Roller is so easy
to use that we don’t mind
cleaning roller covers. Instead
of buying cheap roller covers
and throwing them away, we
can buy top-quality covers
and reuse them. Here’s how
it works: Slip the roller cover
into the tube and plug the
end. Then connect the hose
to a faucet and turn on the
water. When the water runs
clear from the bottom holes,
the roller is clean. If you own
a roller spinner, you can speed
up drying and fluff the roller
nap by giving it a quick spin.
But it’s not necessary. For more
product and ordering information
go to timelessinnovations.com or search online for
Rejuv-a-Roller (about $25).
Quick-connect paint pole
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Paint pole in action
Clip on the roller frame, adjust the length
and go. In seconds, you're rolling walls
or ceilings with a pole that’s the perfect
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Close-up of quick-connect feature
The quick-connect eliminates the screw-on/screw-off hassle when attaching the roller handle.
When it’s time to paint, this is the
extension pole we fight over. The
quick-connect feature allows you to
easily connect and disconnect the
roller frame without having to screw
and unscrew the pole. In addition,
the pole is hexagon-shaped to prevent
it from spinning, and is super
easy to extend. Just push the button
to release. Then pull in or push out
the top section until the spring-loaded
pin drops into a hole in the
pole to lock it in place. The Sherlock
GT Convertible shown here (the 2-ft.
to 4-ft. size; about $28) includes a screw-in
adapter that stores in the handle
and allows you to convert any roller
frame into a quick-connect version.
Find Sherlock poles at paint stores, some home centers and online.
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Paint spout in action
Easier pouring; no drips on the can.
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Close-up of paint spout
The plastic spout flexes and snaps into the paint can rim.
How can you go wrong
spending less than a dollar
for a tool that simplifies
paint pouring and reduces
the mess? This handy
spout snaps onto the rim
of a gallon or quart can and
directs the paint where you
want it. Plus it prevents
paint from running down
the side of the can and creating
a mess on the floor or
drop cloth. You’ll find these
at home centers and paint
stores, or search
online for “snap
on paint can
Field Editor favorite: Brush and roller spinner
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Brush and roller spinner
A few quick handle pumps is all it takes.
But be sure to keep the roller in a bucket
or deep sink to avoid a mess.
We asked our Field Editors to send in
their choices for the best DIY painting
gear. Their picks ranged from battery-powered
sprayers to favorite putty
knives. But there were a couple favorites
that stood out from the crowd.
Our Field Editors don’t like cleaning up
painting gear, so it’s no surprise that this
brush and roller spinner is one of their
choices for best painting gear. You’ll find
roller spinners ($15 to $25) at any good
Field Editor favorite: Most comfortable brush
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Getting into tight spots is easy with this
compact paint brush.
Our Field Editors loved this little brush
from Wooster because it's so darned
comfortable to hold. But they also liked
being able to get into tight spots where
the long handle of a conventional brush
would be in the way. You'll find Wooster
ShortCut brushes (about $5.50) at paint stores
and home centers. Purdy's XL-Cub (about $10)
is a similar small-handled brush.