Purdy’s Guide to Brushes and Rollers

Purdy’s Guide to Brushes and Rollers

Mick Bowler, Technical Manager at Purdy, explains why choosing the right kind of tools is a must and outlines how far brush and roller technology has come. Here he talks natural, synthetic and handmade materials, highlighting the benefits of each.

Achieving the perfect decorating finish isn’t always easy – especially when projects can include different rooms and substrates, all of which require a different treatment.

Woodgrain, plaster and stone all need careful handling, while clients may also be keen to see softening, blending, combing, sponging, stippling and stencilling. So building and maintaining a professional toolkit, will help contractors be ready to deal with any kind of surface or decorating requirement.

Natural Fibres

Brush technology has developed immensely since Purdy first started handcrafting products in 1925. Historically, natural animal hair was the weapon of choice when it came to coating any surface. Hog and ox hair were the most commonly available so most likely to be used and rollers were usually crafted from sheepskin.

Purdy Contractor Lifestyle 17Although these products still perform well with solvent-based products, as paints have developed, brush and roller materials have needed to adapt too. As water-based, rather than solvent-based products have become more prevalent, and better finishes were demanded, more innovative technology was required.

Enhancing Performance

One of the drawbacks of natural hair is that it doesn’t perform as well with water-based paints. The fibres can take on water and can cause splay out, which leads to less control and ultimately, a poorer finish.

The development of synthetic filaments – made from nylon or polyester – has led to real improvements in this area. These man-made fibres perform much better in both water and solvent-based paints.

Roller technology has benefited from the addition of new materials too – usually seen in fabric form rather than extruded filament.

The way man-made fibres are combined is also of interest here. Often nylon and polyester filaments will be used together in professional brushes. Nylon is an extremely durable material so tools will last longer and help painters and decorators achieve a quality finish that stands the test of time too.

Tomorrow’s Tools

The changing shape of brushes is the next key area for development. New designs are being created to allow greater pick up and release, for a better quality, smoother finish. The challenge is achieving all of the above while maintaining control in application.

We are now starting to see new shaped filaments in brushes and the development of quadrilobal or trilobal, rather than just solid round tapered elements.

With rollers, the change is more about material make-up and new combinations of nylon and polyester in sleeves and fabric densities. Developments in the way sleeves are made will improve bond strength – bonding fabric to the core – making them much less prone to de-laminating during use.

With an improved and refined choice of tools on offer, every decorator should consider investing in high-quality nylon and polyester-based brushes and roller sleeves, including different pile heights for different surfaces.

For us as developers, the future is all about sourcing quality materials, identifying and exploring new technologies as they become available, then testing to assess performance benefits.


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