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
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
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
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 choose.
Pro masking tool
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 3M Hand-Maskers at paint stores, home centers and on online.
Handy paint pail
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
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
There are a lot of roller frames on the market, but we like this one the best. Like other premium roller frames, 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 paint stores.
Versatile brush comb
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
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
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.
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 spout.”
Field Editor favorite: Brush and roller spinner
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 paint store.
Field Editor favorite: Most comfortable 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.