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Old 10-12-2015, 02:52 AM   #1
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Foam vs Bristle brush - trade off between Time vs Results


This is not a pressing question and I hesitated before asking. But I am about to paint my exterior windows and was considering using a foam brush with the expectation it would provide 'better' results. Has anyone tried that before? I suspect using a foam brush would take a lot longer to complete and thus make the job too frustrating, especially since it is an exterior finish that no one will look closely at. But I am considering that approach even it meant the job took twice as long to complete if it achieved significantly 'better' results.

By 'better' I mean ending up with a smoother surface that will shed water faster, therefore dry off quicker and be less prone to picking up dirt and mildew. Making future window cleanings easier and/or less frequent. Much like a good car wax and rain-x on the windshield makes the surface smoother and less prone to picking up dirt.

I may try a hybrid approach, of using a quality brush on the top sash and sides, and a foam brush only on the window sill. But wondered if I was over thinking this? My home is a bit too shaded, so frequent cleaning is needed.

For some background, while priming after some wood repairs before this big paint job I noticed that two coats of primer laid down with a cheap bristle brush looks a lot rougher (many brush marks) compared with doing the initial coat with this same brush and a second coat with a foam brush. The foam brush laid down a thicker layer which probably had a lot to do with the smoothness. The biggest negative is the foam brush will not hold much paint before dripping and has a lot less backbone. (Primer was Zinsser 123; future paint job will use Sherman-Williams Ovation semi-gloss)

Last edited by RustNeverSleeps; 10-12-2015 at 02:56 AM.
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Old 10-12-2015, 03:39 AM   #2
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I would forget about the foam brush all together and go with something like this Purdy Pro-Extra Glide , also, one coat of primer is all you need, ever.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:03 AM   #3
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what you are describing is just some not so good technique used by the previous painter, not really a result of the brush that was used. A foam brush will not last very long, and you will actually get more brush marks from having to constantly reload the brush. Use a quality brush, the previously mentioned Purdy Pro-extra glide being one of my personnel favorites for exterior painting. Just take your time and you will be happy with the results.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:10 AM   #4
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For what you describe a GOOD brush such as Purdy or Wooster and a good paint. Use an enamel in semi gloss for clean ability and the smooth look. The only thing I have got foam to work for is clear finishes on small projects.
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:10 AM   #5
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Appreciate the feedback about brush selection. I will probably get some Purdy brushes from big box store since they come as a package deal.

I expect the 1.5 angle sash brush to be the main workhouse on these outside windows.

I understand the comment about prior paint jobs leaving brush marks/imperfections, but I believe some of what I am seeing is also the wood grain showing through, by raising up a wood grain pattern underneath the existing paint. Not sure if the windows are built from yellow pine or spruce or something else but there are definite signs of the wood grain in places that have not been repaired or repainted.

The mildew may be highlighting this wood grain pattern, but it is my belief these slight ridges are leading to water clinging a bit longer, thus leading to more mildew growth. This is after power washing just a few months earlier. I neglected to take some pictures today of a window that I first cleaned before re-caulking that would better show what I am trying to describe.
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:47 AM   #6
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I would NOT buy my brushes from the big box store, I don't think they are the same as from a real paint store
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RustNeverSleeps View Post
but I believe some of what I am seeing is also the wood grain showing through, by raising up a wood grain pattern underneath the existing paint.
Unless the wood used in manufacturer is quarter sawed there will be a good side to accept and retain paint and a poorer side to accept and retain paint, with plain sawed wood being the example of having the good side and the poorer side. Plain sawed, that which was the interior of the tree sometimes tends to grain lift and shows as a poor paint job which it really wasn't the paint at all that causes this appearance.

Being you didn't have any control in the manufacturer the best you can do is paint again to make the best of the situation.
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:53 AM   #8
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@SeniorSitizen . Interesting information, I did not understand what quarter sawed really meant until after researching based on your response. From what I have seen with my windows, they were constructed from finger jointed wood, some joined sections only a few feet in length. Maybe that is an indication that the quality of wood was not very good.

Also I could have been more specific in my original background post (the last paragraph written in small print, where I felt my initial question was getting too long)...but in addition to some rotten wood repairs I used paint stripper to remove the existing paint directly underneath the lower window sash. Removed due to having mildew problems to the point where the paint in this area seemed to always remain sticky (very difficult to raise window and too much mildew in any case.) I was so determined to get rid of the mildew that I stripped the paint back down to bare wood to reprime/paint, and while removing the paint I saw many finger joined sections of window sill.

For clarification and to satisfy curiosity, if possible I will try to get a photo of a window that I did not strip existing paint from to show the "graining".
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Old 10-14-2015, 12:11 PM   #9
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It is recommended not to use those foam brushes. Usually, it doesn’t last very long and you will be left with brush marks and you will have to reload the brush over and over again. With Purdy or Wooster brush, one coat of primer will work ideally for you. As far as foam brush is considered, it is ideal for small sized projects.
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Old 10-15-2015, 12:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RustNeverSleeps View Post
...For clarification and to satisfy curiosity, if possible I will try to get a photo of a window that I did not strip existing paint from to show the "graining".
A couple of examples of wood grain on my windows. In one sense it adds character so I do not mind seeing the texture. But as shown in the 2nd photo, it collects mildew faster on horizontal surfaces. That is the issue I want to minimize to the extent possible in the repainting effort.

As a side note, these windows were power washed with a light bleach solution about 4 months ago by someone I hired. Mildew stains remained on the caulk lines afterwards, so I feared that mildew was growing in the caulk. But upon closer inspection and some scrubbing with a toothbrush and bleach solution I think (hope) it is mainly surface mildew. ...as I would dread having to rip and replace all this caulk to achieve a proper paint job.
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Foam vs Bristle brush - trade off between Time vs Results-window-wood-grain-0513.jpg   Foam vs Bristle brush - trade off between Time vs Results-window-wood-grain-0516.jpg  
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