8 Tips for Making Your Paint Brushes and Rollers Last Longer

Updated: Apr. 05, 2024

Old paint and paint brushes don't do well together. Follow these secrets from the pros to make painting easier and mess-free.

Brush With White Paint In The Hands Of Someone In Protective GlovesALEKSANDR ZUBKOV/GETTY IMAGES

Unless you’re a professional painter, you probably aren’t doing painting projects regularly. And that means you might not know the best ways to extend the life of your brushes.

While you can buy new paint brushes each time, it’s better for the environment and your wallet to make the ones you have last as long as possible.

How Much Do Paint Brushes and Rollers Cost?

Prices vary, depending on what size brushes you’re looking for and how many you need. But you can often find a variety pack for $10 to $25. Be sure to clean your brushes after you’re finished for the day so you can extend their life. Even $10 at a time will add up quickly if you have to keep replacing them.

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Cutting the Edges of a Paint Roller With Scissor
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Edge-Trim Your Paint Roller

Those ragged edges and tiny beads of dried paint on your paint roller may seem harmless, but they’ll leave ugly tracks in your paint job. Trim them off, leaving a slightly tapered edge, and your roller will be as good as new.

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Cleaning Paint Brush with a Golf Club Brush
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Brush for Cleaning Brushes

Dried paint and paint brushes don’t do well together. An old golf club brush is perfect for scrubbing off that crusty build-up. The plastic bristles scour away most of the crust without harming the brush. The brass bristles will take care of the stubborn spots.

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Cleaning Paint Brush
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Double the Life of Your Paint Brushes

To ensure a lifetime of use out of your synthetic paint brushes, clean each one immediately after using it, before the paint has a chance to dry. Wipe the brush on newspaper to remove excess paint. Then stick the brush into a bucket of warm water and move it around to remove as much paint as possible.

Next, hold the brush under running water. Run a wire brush or a kitchen fork down the bristles to remove dried paint. When the water running off the bristles turns clear, the brush is clean.

Let each paint brush air dry, then wrap it with the cardboard cover it came in or heavy paper, like a grocery bag. To keep the bristles straight, hang the brushes from a nail or hook, or store them flat.

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Removing Lint of a Paint Roller with Lint Roller
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Lint-Free Paint Roller

Cheap paint rollers shed all over the paint as you roll it on, but they’re good because they’re disposable — no cleanup! Before using one, wipe it with a self-adhesive lint roller to remove all the loose fuzz. No more picking it off wet walls.

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Cleaning Paint Roller
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Best Way to Clean Roller Covers

If you do a lot of roll-on painting and use premium roller covers you don’t want to throw away, get a Roller Washer ($15). You’ll be glad you did. It’s easy to use and gets the rollers incredibly clean — a task that takes a long time by hand, and even then you rarely get a truly clean nap.

Just hook up the hose to a faucet, slide the roller cover into the tube and watch the water flush out the paint in minutes.

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Painting Ceiling Edge With Brush
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Brush Ceiling Edges

Cut in the perimeters of ceilings with ceiling white and a 3-in. brush. Don’t worry if you overlap onto the wall. Roll on a second coat of ceiling paint in the opposite direction of the first coat.

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Paint Brush Soaking in a Jar Clipped with a Binder Clip
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Paint Brush Holder

Soak oil brushes in cleaning solvent without bending the bristles and ruining the brush! Affix a medium or large binder clip around the handle of a brush and spread the arms to span a cleaning container so the bristles don’t touch the bottom.

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Paint Brushes Hanged on a thin Rod
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Out-Of-The-Way Paint Brush Storage

Hang your paint brushes out of harm’s way by installing screw eyes or cup hooks on the bottom of a couple of rafters or floor joists. Then thread the brush handles through a stiff wire or welding rod and hang it all up.