6 Must-Have Painting Tools

Chances are you’ll never swap out a toilet yourself; but sooner or later you’re going to paint, stain, or plastic-coat something. Here are the painting tools you’ll need in your home maintenance toolbox.

A brush with painting tools

Paintbrushes are like shoes–you’ve got 50 pairs, but you always wear the same two. The go-to paintbrushes are a 3-inch flat brush for cutting in trim and a 1 1/2-inch angled brush for details. Brush handles are a matter of comfort–wood, plastic, wood-plastic–but brush filaments should match the job.

1. Natural bristle: Made of hog or ox hair, these are good for applying oil-based paints, primers, stains, and polyurethane varnishes and shellacs. Cost: $11 for a 3-inch flat brush; $7.50 for a 1 1/2-inch angled.

2. Synthetic bristle: These are good for applying latex and acrylic primer and paint, and water-based wood finishes and stains. Cost: $8 for a 3-inch flat brush; $6 for a 1 1/2-inch angled.

Paint roller derby

Paint rollers cover walls and ceilings quickly and seamlessly, and are essential painting tools.

If you’re a once-in-a-blue-moon painter, pick a disposable roller set. You’ll get a 9-inch plastic frame, synthetic cover, and plastic paint tray for about $5. If you plan to be the touch-up artist in your home, invest in a good roller set. Here’s what you’ll need.

3. Frame: For walls and ceilings, select a 9-inch metal cage with a plastic or wood handle, threaded to accommodate extension poles. Cost: $2.50.

4. Paint bucket and grid: Instead of tripping over gallon paint cans and upturning metal trays, fill a 5-gallon paint bucket halfway and slip in a 9-inch metal or plastic grid, which loads rollers with the proper amount of paint. Cost: $6 for a bucket; $2 for the grid.

5. Cover (sleeve): Lambskin or mohair covers are long-lasting and perfect for oil-based paints. Synthetic covers are better for acrylics. Covers with ½-inch naps are the most versatile. Cost: $7 for lambskin 9-inch ½-inch nap; $1.75 for synthetic.

6. Extension poles: Buy 2 ft.-4 ft. or 4 ft.-8 ft. aluminum extension poles that screw and lock into the frame handle. Cost: $18 for 2-4 ft.; $22 for 4-8 ft.

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