I expect a lot from my paintbrushes. They have to be soft enough to give a smooth finish, but also strong enough to do detail without going to pieces. Painting furniture is a game of two halves and a bit like driving a car. You have the long straight and flat bits (the motorways), where you can pick up speed and rhythm, covering a lot of ground quickly, then there’s the edges and nooks (the country lanes, with hairpin bends), where you have to slow things right down and maintain control. My paintbrush needs to do both types of painting because furniture consists of flat bits and awkward bits.

A while ago, I bought a 2.5″ Wooster Silver Tip paintbrush. It looked a bit big, bigger than my usual 2.5″ brushes, so I bought another in a smaller (1.5″) size. I’d heard good things about the Silver Tip, so had high expectations. As I’m re-painting my kitchen at the moment, it seemed like a good time to give the new paintbrush a test drive.

The Silver Tip is liked in the painting and decorating trade because (allegedly) it is capable of carrying more paint than other brushes, so on a straight run, you don’t have to leave off to re-load with paint so often. I’d agree with that, the brush has plenty of ‘stretch’ in it, but it comes at a price. I’m used to working with a soft brush, that I can form into a chisel shape for accuracy. Although I’ll switch to an art brush for the very fiddly bits on furniture, it’s more usual for me to turn my brush sideways and use the narrow chisel shape to push the paint into awkward corners and edges. I can usually do this with accuracy, and more or less without really thinking about it, not because I’m clever, but just because it’s what I do, day in day out. But I found that the Silver Tip didn’t like being pushed around and when using it sideways, it did the splits.

On the flat bits it was okay, the finish was fairly smooth, but the paint deposited a bit too thickly for my liking, and the brush doesn’t like being put under pressure. I find that if I want a really smooth finish, a little pressure is needed, to make the paint stretch further. I nearly always paint with diluted paint, to minimise brush strokes, so my brush needs to cope with the less viscous consistency. The Silver Tip didn’t cope too well at all. I found that there just wasn’t the control there that I usually have and take for granted.

Where the Silver Tip let me down most was on the mitred corners to the kitchen cabinets; I found that I couldn’t push the paint into the corners without having to overload my brush, but then ended up having to mop up the excess with my paint brush. I finished up using an art brush to do the corners, even though they aren’t that recessed or fiddly. You can see what I mean on the photo below. I’ve gone over the edges, onto the glass quite a lot, simply because as soon as I pressed the brush into the grooves, the bristles splayed. I seldom use masking tape on glass because my usual paint brushes allow me to be quite accurate:

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However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Silver Tip is really comfortable to hold and to work with and I will use it from time to time when my wrists get a bit achey, but for day to day furniture painting, I need a bit more control than the Silver Tip can offer.

Here’s the first 3 cabinets:

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The colours aren’t accurate on the photo due to the poor light. The cupboards will be left to cure for a day or two before varnishing and knob replacements.

Pics to follow…