I research tools and products for specific projects on a regular basis. The category “Tool tips for homeowners” is devoted to providing tips before purchasing and for the use of various tools.
I find that much of the information available on the internet fails to distinguish what is best for the homeowner and what is best for the contractor regarding tools. It is important to know when a homeowner needs to buy professional grade stuff to get the job done right. I am a believer in buying quality serviceable tools, but sometimes less expensive tools are preferred to get the job done.
Tip #1. “Contractor grade” sucks. “Professional grade” is better
Know the difference between the marketing terms “Contractor grade” tools and supplies and “Professional grade”. Yes it is just a marketing label, but I find for the most part there is quite a difference in meanings between these two. Products with the “professional grade” stamp on it are geared towards a brand’s higher end product, which is true sometimes. It may sound silly, but I find items with “Contractor grade” stamped on them are usually made with the intention of providing the bare minimum requirements of whatever it is you plan to do, and more often than not, I regret my purchase because of poor performance form that product…kinda like some contractors are. I have learned my lesson, unless I know what the product is capable of before I buy it, I never buy anything with the “contractor grade” stamp on it.
Tip #2 When to use cheap paint brushes
When using Alkyd paints (oil based), the cleanup involved is very messy. Mineral spirits are required to clean your brushes. I am not going to explain the whole process, but that stuff is nasty, and extremely unfriendly to the environment. After the brushes are cleaned you have to “air out” your brush, letting the mineral spirits evaporate. You also have to store the wasted mineral spirits in a container for future disposal. You can’t pour it down the drain or throw it in the garbage.
So if you have to use alkyd paints, for smaller sized jobs like painting a bench vise or your metal shed, it is a good idea to use foam brushes or cheap china bristle brushes. When you are finished painting, throw the brush in a glass jar (open lid) and let the paint ruin those cheap brushes. After a couple of days, it will harden up. When you consider the environmental factor, it is probably the better choice rather than using mineral spirits with the possibility of spillage, and the future disposal issue IMO.
As an aside, latex or acrylic paints cannot be substituted for some alkyd paint applications. You can’t use those paints on metal. It simply does not adhere properly. I don’t care if the paint can says “exterior” on the paint can. It’s not a matter of latex not lasting as long, it is more that those paints can’t perform all of the necessary painting applications we need as homeowners such as painting my old bench vise (in the above picture). Alkyd holds up better to physical wear, tear and UV light, and I hope they are replaced with more environmentally friendly products in the coming future, but I will not hold my breath for them.
- Be wary of “contractor grade” products
- Disposable paint brushes are good choice if the type of paint you use requires a messy cleanup