Close Give Feedback
Resene Paints - home page
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Pinterest Follow us on Instagram Follow us on YouTube

getting started with paintbrushes

It takes time to become good, accurate and fast with a paintbrush. Have patience with yourself if you’re just starting out. Work on your quality first, then on speed. This way you will speed up your quality work rather than start and speed up sloppy work.

Brushes vary greatly in quality and are available in two types – traditional hog hair bristled and synthetic bristled brushes. Resene has selected medium to high quality brushes for our core paintbrush range. Our ultra premium brush – the PAL Legend – is a synthetic brush that is available in an oval shape for general use (ovals hold good quantities of paint so you don’t need to dip the brush as often and have a brush tip configuration that helps when cutting-in). The Legend is also available in three square ended or flat brushes, which have been developed for large weatherboards and trough sectional roofing and three cutting-in brushes, which have an angled brush tip to make cutting-in corners and edges easier. They are ideal for window joinery.

Our premium offer consists of the PAL Basil, which is a synthetic brush, the PAL Basin Hog and the Haydn Premier Oval, which are traditional hog bristled brushes. In the mid range we have the versatile PAL MacGyver brush.

The traditional hog bristled brushes are ideal and recommended for solventborne (oil-based) enamels, varnishes and stains, while the synthetic brushes are able to be used with both waterborne and solventborne paints. Synthetic brushes are especially recommended for waterborne enamels – Resene Lustacryl, Resene Enamacryl and Resene SpaceCote.

FIVE points...

Critical to consider when selecting a paintbrush

  1. Your strength and experience. Using a large (88-100mm) brush or a heavy PAL Legend flat brush for extended periods will be tiring and put a lot of strain on your brush arm, so you may wish to select a smaller brush (63- 75mm). More experienced painters will select larger brushes for cutting-in.

  2. What sort of brush do I need? There are three types – Oval brushes, which are good general purpose brushes for cutting-in, flat brushes, which hold more paint but are less accurate and specialist cutting-in brushes, which are ideal for cutting-in and fine finishing but do not hold as much paint.

  3. The project. If this is the start of a major repaint or refurbishment project it makes sense to invest in top quality brushes that will last well. If this is just a one-off project you may decide to choose a cheaper brush that will not last as long.

  4. The surface you are planning to paint, and

  5. The type of paint being used.

Refer to the information on the Resene brush stand or Resene ColorShop or Reseller staff to determine the right paintbrush for your project.

It is generally best to use a variety of brush sizes – you will get better results and save time and effort. For example:

Applying paint by brush

While the paintbrush is still clean, work it back and forth across your open fingers to remove any dust, dirt, loose bristles or unwanted particles. Lightly moisten a natural bristle brush with water before applying waterborne paints to help you apply the paint more evenly.

Hold your paintbrush like you would a pencil, near the base of the bristles, for a comfortable, controlled grip. Many painters prefer to extend the grip over the top of the ferrule. Dip one-third to one-half the length of the bristles into the paint container, then tap (not wipe!) the paintbrush against the side of the paint container.

If you are working with a full paint container, pour part of the can of paint into a Resene paint pot and work from that. Seal the original container for use later. You will find applying the paint and tapping the paintbrush much easier using a Resene paint pot.

Paint with the tips of your paintbrush, not the sides. Hold the paintbrush at about a 45° angle to the surface and work mostly with your wrist rather than your arms and shoulders. Apply the paint in long light vertical strokes, lifting the brush up gradually at the end of each stroke. When stains or polyurethaning timber, always paint in the direction of the wood grain. Ideally stain one board at a time and work in the same direction. Paint exterior surfaces from the top toward the ground.

How to hold your paintbrush

Use paint from a paint pot

Pour part of paint into a Resene paint pot and work from that.

To avoid lap marks, brush towards the unpainted area and then back into the just-painted surface. This technique (brushing from ‘wet to dry’) will produce a smooth uniform appearance.

Avoid excessive re-brushing when using waterborne paints, especially semigloss or gloss finishes. A few strokes per waterborne paint brushload will achieve a thick paint film with good hiding.

If your brushing strokes become stiff, sticky or non-flowing, you may need to thin the paint a little. Use the thinner recommended on your paint containers or Resene Hot Weather Additive for most waterborne paints.

Wrap the bristles and ferrule in a piece of plastic cling wrap while you take breaks and cover the paint container. This will keep the paintbrush moist and ready to use after you have rested.


‘Cutting-in’ refers to the application of paint to areas where one area of paint meets another, such as where the walls meet ceilings or floors. As rollers cannot reach into these areas, brushes (generally 38-63mm) must be used. The angled cutting-in brushes, as their name suggests, are designed to make cutting-in easier and achieve a better finish. The most confident you are at painting the longer the brush you could select for cutting-in.

To cut in, paint the edge of the area you are painting with a brush, then roll the large surface area taking the roller as close to the edge as possible to minimise the difference in appearance between the brushed and rolled area.

If you are new to DIY, it is a good idea to mask off the edge of the adjacent area with low tack masking tape to avoid painting the adjacent area or you can hold a straight edge where the two areas meet and cut in to the edge of the straight edge. Make sure you remove the masking tape before the paint dries.

Mastering skirting boards

Apply low tack masking tape to the edge of the skirting that meets the flooring to protect carpet/flooring from undesirable paint drips. If needed, apply low tack masking tape above the skirting board to avoid overpainting onto the wall area. Alternatively a stiff piece of card may be used to protect the flooring.

Using a 25mm-50mm brush, cut in approximately 30cm along the top edge of the skirting board, then cut in the bottom edge by the same distance. Paint the middle then lay-off left to right. Remove the masking tape before the paint dries. The middle portion of the skirting board may be painted with a small roller if preferred. If right handed it is generally best to work from right to left, if left handed, work in the opposite direction.

Skirting boards can be painted using the same colour and paint as the wall, especially if Resene SpaceCote is used. However this look doesn’t always suit the aesthetics of the house and frame the wall colour well, particularly if larger skirting boards are used. Ideally the skirting boards should be completed in the same colour and paint as the window and door frames. We recommend Resene Lustacryl (semi-gloss waterborne enamel) or Resene Enamacryl (gloss waterborne enamel) are used or Resene Super Gloss or Resene Lusta-Glo (semi-gloss) solventborne enamels.

Creating feature walls/areas

Mask off the adjacent walls/areas with low tack masking tape. Cut in with a brush then apply the product by roller, taking it as close to the edge as possible to minimise the difference between the brushed edge and the body of the coating that has been rolled. Remove the masking tape before the feature wall paint is dry.

View the Resene how to videos and project sheets.

Brush care

A top quality brush will give you a long life of excellent results, provided you take time to clean and store your brush properly. Never store a brush that has any wet paint left on it.

Don’t soak brushes in water, commercial cleaners or paint for an extended period as they will lose their shape and it may destroy the bristle setting.

Use Resene Brush Cleaner or the recommended solvent for industrial paints to assist in the cleaning process following the instructions on the product label.

Bristle brushes

Clean as soon as possible after use. Follow the instructions on the paint container to select the correct cleaning solvent, then:

  • Work the cleaning solvent through the bristles, dipping up and down to the ferrule.

  • Remove excess cleaner out of the brush after the final rinsing. This is best done by ‘spinning’ the brush between your hands in an empty can.

  • Dry the brush with paper towels to remove as much thinner and residual paint as possible. Use a brush comb to remove stubborn paint residue and straighten the bristles.

  • Dry the brush thoroughly. Allow solvent soaked rags to dry before disposing of. This helps to prevent spontaneous combustion.

Painting tip - wrap paintbrush between sessions
Wrap the brush between painting sessions

Nylon/polyester brushes

These are usually used with waterborne paints (when used with solventborne paints, follow the cleaning directions outlined under Bristle brushes).

Resene Brush Cleaner should be used occasionally, followed by washing in warm soapy water and rinsing in clean water. Misshapen nylon/polyester brushes can be reshaped by hand after soaking in very hot water. Wear protective gloves. Store brushes by hanging them. Never store a brush on its tips as this damages the bristles.

General advice

Resene paint labels carry full instructions on surface preparation and advice on paint application. Please read these instructions carefully before commencing work. Always stir the paint thoroughly before use. The Resene website also has useful project sheets and how to videos to guide you in your project – or your local Resene ColorShop or Reseller if you need further advice.


Order online now:
Testpots | Paints | Primers and Sealers | Stains | Clears | Accessories

Get inspired Get inspired ! Subscribe      Get saving Get saving ! Apply for a DIY card

Resene Paints Ltd

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask us!

Resene Paints Ltd   –

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Pinterest Follow us on Instagram Follow us on YouTube
Videos on how to paint and stain your house

Welcome to our World of Colour!™
Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.

What's new | Specifiers | Painters | DIYers | Artists | Kids | Sitemap | Home | TOP ⇧