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Types of Paint and Paint Brushes

Types of paint and brushes

In this blog post we will discuss the types of paint as well as the types of brushes that work best with these types of paint to ensure that you get the best paint application every time.

In essence, there are two main types of paint. Traditionally paint was either whiting (glue-based) distemper or oil-based. Whilst distemper has more or less disappeared, oil-based paints are still around in varnishes, stains, shellac, polyurethane, and enamels. But the tendency is more and more towards water-based paints such as latex and acrylic paints.

Oil-based paints are mostly thinner and require brushes made with softer filaments. Before the use of synthetic filaments, brushes were made with natural hair from a variety of animals but mostly bristles from pigs. In the wild, pigs would grow hair up to six inches long so this material was used in all types of brush sizes and thicknesses. Bristle is very absorbent and so is an ideal material for oil-based paint (which is not so absorbent) allowing it to be picked up without effecting the bend recovery of the hair.

Bristle comes in two colors; white and black. White is usually softer than black which is due to the climate in which these pigs live. Whilst synthetic equivalents have, by and large, taken over from natural bristle, we do still use it in some ranges with the white bristle brushes for smooth surface painting and the black for more textured surfaces.

As stated above, synthetics have though replaced natural bristle to a wide extent as it is possible to manufacture filaments from nylon and polyester to have the same softness and paint pick-up characteristics as that of natural. Nylon was the first synthetic filament to be used.

This was developed in the 1950s by companies such as Dupont in response to a trade embargo on Chinese goods (the main producer of pig bristle) during the Korean War. Nylon is a durable filament which is also soft and has some absorbency. It works especially well at higher temperatures.

The other main synthetic filament and more recent than nylon, is polyester which comes in two main types; PET and PBT. Polyester is seen as being stiff (which is good for thicker paints) and this is indeed the property of PET. But polyester also comes in PBT form and this mimics the softness of nylon. At Pioneer we do use nylon but prefer to use PBT polyester as it is more flexible and reacts less to heat.

Water-based paints are thicker than oil-based and require stiffer formulations. For these, polyester filament is ideal. At Pioneer, we will mix PET and PBT into one filament, thereby regulating the stiffness and softness to produce a filament that can work even the thickest resin-based acrylic paint around any surface without flicking.

This is achieved also by blending different filament diameters and lengths to create a tapered effect to the brush head that gives a smooth flow of paint to the painting area, using thicker filaments and higher ratio of PET at the base to give strength and stiffness and thinner filaments with more PBT in them at the top to give flex to the brush stroke.

Peter Samuel has been in the brush trade since 1985 where he has been active in markets such as Italy, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. As a result of his involvement in mold injection and brush-making machine companies, he gained comprehensive knowledge of brush-making, not only understanding filaments but all other aspects of the product, including how to manufacture it. With his extensive knowledge and experience, he has built a company that produces high quality paint brushes and paint rollers and is at the forefront of technological advances in filament performance.

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