Rollers and sprayers may be fast, but fine woodwork deserves the attention that only a brush can give. The slight imperfections left by each pass of the bristles give the job a warmer, richer feel.
Brushes are a necessity on most paint jobs for their ability to reach tight corners and cut in along trim. Moistened by a dip in fresh paint, good bristles line up to form a sharp tip that traces around sash and sill, defines the edge of the wall and ceiling, and lays paint over a window muntin without spattering the glass.
Only a quality brush can pull off such feats. So return the favor by cleaning and combing it out after every use, then wrapping up the bristles in the clever origami-like keeper they come in.
Acrylic paints, which account for more than 90 percent of sales, go on best with a synthetic brush (right) of nylon and polyester filaments. Approximately $17,
Natural-bristle brushes (left) have traditionally been used to apply oil paints, polyurethanes, and varnishes, although a new class of oil-friendly synthetics is now challenging bristles' dominance in this realm. Approximately $22,