Picking The Right Tools For Your Interior Home Painting Project

Jeremy Holderness

Bucket of brushes for home paintingHave you ever looked at the selection of painting tools and accessories at your local paint department and wondered why in the world there needs to be sooo many choices?

Rather than writing a whole book to try and navigate all of the latest gimmiks and gadgets available, I'm going to help you narrow down your choices to the tools that the pros use every day to get the job done.  

Below is a list of a few of the necessary items you'll need to successfully tackle your next interior home painting project.


Paint Brushes

If you intend to do more than one painting project in your lifetime, brushes are not a place where you want to skimp on cost.  A good paint brush will make the job go faster, give you a better looking finish, and - if you take care of it - last you for a very long time.

For the purpose of this article I will break brushes down into two main categories: natural bristle (or china bristle) and synthetic bristle.


Natural Bristle - If you're using an oil-based paint, the preferred tool would be a black china bristle.  If you're applying an oil-based stain or oil polyurethane then white china bristle is a better choice.


Synthetic Bristle - Of the synthetic options available, Nylon/Polyester and Chinex are the two preferred kinds of brushes to use in most applications.  They are ideal when applying latex-based paints because they tend to hold a lot of paint (which means less dips in your bucket).


A 2-1/2" - 3" flat or angle-sash brush will handle the needs of most of the interior painting projects that you'll get into.

The prices on brushes will range anywhere from $1 to over $30.  As a rule of thumb, quality brushes start at $8-$10 and up. But if you clean it well using a brush comb and the appropriate cleaner to remove all of the paint from the bristles, spin all of the excess liquid out by hand or with a brush spinner, then hang it upside down wrapped in its cardboard ferrule or craft paper to hold its shape - it will last for years.


Rollers & Covers

Just like brushes I'll break roller covers down into two general categories as well:  knit and woven


Knit Covers - These covers work great when you're applying flat and satin/eg-shel finishes.  Knit covers are available in both wool and polyester fabrics, however, the pure wool and 50/50 wool-polyester blend covers will hold more paint and shed less.


Woven Covers - Are ideal for use with semi-gloss and gloss sheens because they give you the smoothest finish.  The only drawback to them is that they don't hold nearly as much paint as their knit counterparts.  So expect to be dipping into your roller pan often.


Micro Fiber - One special mention I'll make is for microfiber covers.  These are a great specialty cover for use with a 4" mini roller frame to make short work of doors and trim.


Roller frames and covers come in varying widths, from 3" - 18" wide.  The most commonly used are the 4" mini roller for doors and trim, and 9" or 18" widths for walls and ceilings.

9" rollers are popular among do-it-yourselfers, but if you have a large open area to paint and you really want to increase your production like the pros do, try stepping up to an 18" frame and cover.  You'll cover twice the ground in half the time...as long as you don't mind a little arm fatigue at the end of the day.


Paint Buckets & Paint Pans

Using the right container to hold your paint is another great way to reduce your painting time.


Cut Bucket - A cut bucket is a small hand-held paint pail that you can easily carry up and down a ladder with you to dip your brush and mini-roller in.  The best types are usually made out of plastic with an ergonomic handle and a built-in grid for your 4" roller.  If you can't find one with the built-in grid you can pickup a disposable mini plastic grid that will fit nicely in your cut bucket.


9" Roller Pan - When most people think of a roller pan they think of a metal tray with the disposable plastic liners.  In my humble opinion, these things are a terrible waste of time.  

If you're going to use a 9" roller, do yourself a favor and fill a 5 gallon plastic paint bucket about a third of the way full with your coating, drop in a hanging metal bucket grid, and go to town.

You'll spend much less time filling up your tray and you won't have to worry about accidentally stepping in your paint pan.


18" Roller Bucket - If you're taking my earlier advice about using an 18" roller you'll need a special wide bucket for dipping.  They're usually made out of plastic and have the built-in grid like the cut buckets.  If not, you can purchase a couple of the hanging metal bucket grids I talked about and hang them side-by-side in your bucket.



Extension Poles

If you want practice in stretching up high and down low, go buy a yoga video.  If you want to save your back when painting a wall buy an adjustable extension pole and attach it to your roller frame.

Extension poles come in varying sizes from 2'-4', 4'-8', and so on.  Don't waste your money on a non-adjustable version because you won't be able to use it in tight spaces without hitting the wall behind you, or extend it to reach high walls and ceilings.

Your back will thank you for not having to do all of that bending and stretching, and your legs will thank you for not having to climb the ladder so much.


Drop Cloths

Most do-it-yourselfers buy plastic drop cloths to protect their floor from paint spills and spatters.  I'm personally not a fan of plastic on the floor because invariably when you have a spill, someone steps in it and tracks it into the next room.

Save your plastic to cover up your furniture and pickup a canvas drop cloth like the pros use.  They're sold in many different sizes to accommodate small and large areas.

They do a much better job of absorbing any paint spills and keeping them from becoming larger messes.  Some also have a built-in butyl or plastic backing to prevent any major spills from leaking through.


Misc. Accessories

Of course you'll need some other miscellaneous items like painter's tape, a step ladder, spackling, etc., etc.

I'll go into more detail about these products in a later blog or in one of our upcoming ebooks.



If you're like many other homeowners, you'll probably tackle lots of painting projects around the house.  But chances are, if you don't do it for a living, you don't want to spend any more time doing it than is necessary.

I hope some of these tips will help save you some time on your next project so you can get back to doing what you love.


When you're planning your project, check out our blog on some of the most common interior house painting problems


If you're weighing the decision of doing it yourself vs. paying a pro to complete your project and you'd like a free consultation and quote, click below.




Photo by:  nomadic lass / CC BY 4.0



Contact the Pros

Ready to get started with your next painting project but unsure if it is in your budget? Reach out to the expert painting team at ImageWorks Painting to schedule a free consultation today. Give us a call at 724-898-2446, or request a visit online.