New Paints Need New Brushes

Wooster Paint Brush

Picking the Right Brushes and Roller Covers for No VOC and Low VOC Paints

So you want to use No VOC or Low VOC paints. Good for you – and the environment. But you’ll want to pay special attention to the brushes or rollers you use to make sure your project looks as good as you feel.

“As soon as you take the VOC’s, the glycols, out of paints, what happens is the speed in which they dry has increased,” says Steve Lincowski, who has been selling Wooster brushes for 35 years. That means picking the right brushes and roller covers for No VOC and Low VOC paints is crucial, because the brushes and rollers will streak or clump with the new paints. In fact, Lincowski says Wooster changed many of its brushes and rollers to work better with the new products.

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For brushes he has these tips:

  • Use softer tips to avoid leaving brush marks. “We have a much finer tip on the tools we recommend for those paints,” says Lincowski. “When I talk about much finer, I’m talking about the facial brushes women use with makeup, that’s how soft they are at the tips.”
  • You still need a strong brush to “push” the paint, he says, so look for firm bristles. “So the filament needs to be strong enough to shove paint down the wall, but they very tips have to be much softer.”
  • Use 100% nylon brushes instead of polyester. Lincowski says the new formulations are much more difficult to clean out of brushes, and they really seem to stick to polyester.

For cleaning brushes, Lincowski recommends using hand cleaners instead of the traditional soap and water. He the citrus-based hand cleaners used in the auto industry to to clean greasy hands work best. “We’re recommending using those kinds of cleaners for brushes,” he says, because of the lanolin contained to protect hands. “That lanolin is actually absorbed in the filament and it actually makes the brush easier to clean the next couple of times.”


No and Low VOC paints also require different rollers covers. “The coatings have a tendency to stick together,” says Lincowski, “so the paint wants to come out in one big blog.” Wooster came out with two roller covers to prevent the problem, labeled Super Fab FTP (For Today’s Paints) – in both their knit and woven covers. They use a patented Hydro-Flow technology keep the paint from clumping, sagging, or running as it comes off the roller.  This video shows how:

Lincowski says even professional painters had to switch from their favorite old brush and rollers to deal with these newer, greener paints, so they have now posted handy charts at all Hirshfield’s locations to help painters make the right choice.
You can buy Wooster rollers and brushes and a wide variety of No VOC and Low VOC paints at all Hirshfield’s locations throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and North Dakota. And be sure to ask questions, we love to talk about this stuff.

Since Frank and Elizabeth Hirshfield opened their first store in 1894, it has been our mission to do the best job possible meeting customer needs and solving customer problems. Hirshfield’s. People and products you can trust.

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