First paintbrush I ever honestly wore out!


At the cost of a truly aching back I finished a first coat on all the front-facing new lumber – which if that sounds like it’s weasel-worded, it is: I have to pull the balusters to properly paint the pre-existing lumber, and that’s okay because they could really use another coat of green while I’m here.


The new floorboards have been down for over two months but I never finished properly securing them because I knew all along I’d have to take them up again to paint under them. The current plan is to take them up a little at a time, paint what they cover, then properly screw them down with deck screws. We’ll see if that plan is worth the genuine pain in the ass it will be: I might end up just leaving that part for last and taking them all off at once.


I noticed yesterday, the first time I’ve used my wall brush this year, that it really didn’t want to properly clean. And over the course of three hours’ painting this morning it got stiffer and less cooperative.


Through my married years I confess I negligently destroyed more than a few paintbrushes out of a (in hindsight) childish wish to passive-aggressively express my objection to all that damned evening and weekend painting. I bought this brush and – to my utter astonishment – two cutting brushes after the Great Siding Project of 2015 when I found myself actually enthusiastic about painting and maintaining the finally-completed cabin exterior. Since that time the only brushes I’ve purposely allowed to be destroyed were cheap one-shots bought for using Killz. I still have those three half-decent brushes. But this one isn’t cleaning up the way it used to, and I find myself wondering if it’s possible to honestly wear out a paintbrush.

It’s just a wall brush, it’s not expensive and I’ll need one a lot on this project so I plan to replace it on Monday. But as Glidden is my witness, I never neglected it. 🙁

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to First paintbrush I ever honestly wore out!

  1. William Jeffrey Wiseman says:

    You need a change in technique, a brush comb, and whatever solvent for the paint. You are loading your paint brush too high and paint is drying in top of the bristles and not getting cleaned out. You should only dip 1/2 to 2/3 of the bristle in the paint. Might look here for advice: https://www.purdy.com/painting-resources/painting-faqs/paint-care-and-cleanup

  2. Wolfman says:

    I’ve restored paintbrushes like that with a steel comb and lacquer thinner (not mineral spirits, but the actual high-solvent lacquer thinner). That being said, I already HAD those two things on hand. The cost of obtaining them for what is probably a single application is probably higher than replacing the brush.

  3. Norman says:

    From a technique standpoint, I’m guessing it would be easier standing on the dirt to work than hands & knees on the decking. What if….a few feet of decking were removed, paint applied to the understructure, and that “work window” advanced across the deck as the removed deck boards were re-fastened behind you?

    That would allow either doing it all in one push, or a bit at a time, as time and physical constraints permitted.

  4. Norman says:

    Oh, and RE: brushes – securely and tightly wrapping a paint-damp brush in aluminum foil can buy one as much as 24 hours without having to thoroughly clean it between uses. I’d suggest following WJW’s tip (above) about “1/2 dipping” to preserve the brush, though, unless you used a so-called “disposable” brush intended to be discarded upon completion.

  5. Zelda says:

    I use plastic cling wrap to hold brushes in use instead of foil and brushes will keep for days if you wrap tightly and twist the plastic wrap around the handle Also put a piece inside paint cans to seal the lids. A comb was one of the best clean up tools I bought. And I agree with WJW about paint in the top of your brush because even with a comb it’s tough to get out and will make your brush inoperable and uncleanable.

  6. Spud says:

    I use a Wooster stainless steel wire brush to clean out my brush’s. For the most part they are all Purdy brand and have applied literally hundreds of gallons of paint. I have multiples of each size and type too. Reason being letting them completely dry and rest at least a day between each use and cleaning. Always never dipping more than half of the bristle in paint and wiping one side after each dip in paint (helps keep the paint toward the tip and makes less drippage) . If it happens to run up the bristles to high I immediately stop using that brush and clean it. Or if I can’t get to clean it wrap it in a damp rag to keep the paint from drying until cleaning. I also do this if I take a break and walk away for awhile.
    Another important thing to do is after each cleaning let partially air dry and always put the cover back on the brush ! Helps the brush maintain their shape without flaring out. Most higher quality brush’s come with a factory cardboard type case to do this. With care they will last a long, long time.
    Most of my brush’s are at least twenty years old too.
    Yes I’m anal with my brush’s and yet still once in awhile screw up and ruin one.

  7. terrapod says:

    The lair is looking positively civilized. All that is missing is some white gingerbread trim……;-)

  8. Anonymous says:

    When using disposable brushes for latex paint on multi-day projects, I slip the dirty brush in a sandwich bag and freeze it. After 15 minutes thaw, it’s ready to pick up where I left off (Yea, I know that Joel doesn’t have a fridge…just saying. )

  9. Spud says:

    I do the same thing for my roller covers. I put the whole thing, the roller handle and all into a giant size zip lock and just throw the whole thing in the freezer.
    Never with my brush’s tho.
    Only thing is, doing this that first bit of paint is suspect because it has been frozen. So you’ll want to make sure the roller is fairly dry when putting it in the bag. Then really saturate it for the first bit.

To the stake with the heretic!