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Keep your active brushes and rollers fresh

Paint roller and brush wrapped in aluminum foilOne of my readers asked me if it was a good idea to put their wet paintbrushes and rollers in plastic bags to keep them fresh when you need to stop painting.

Early on in my career, I wrapped mine that way when I had a delay in continuing the paint job.  Well, I was surprised to find that the brushes were pretty dried out in spots and the roller cover was hopelessly stuck to the frame! Was I mad! Did I do something wrong?

Plastic wrap or plastic bags are not the ideal brush and roller wrapping material!

Plastic doesn't work well for a couple of reasons:

  • It's hard to seal a plastic bag well unless you put the entire roller or brush inside.
  • Even then, the excessive air in the bag still allows drying to take place.
  • Wrapping a brush or roller in plastic wrap gives a better seal but is messy to deal with.
  • Thin plastic wraps can be slightly porous, allowing moisture (from latex paints) or solvents (from oil-based paints) to escape, hardening the paint on the brush/roller.

My solution?  Aluminum foil instead of plastic!

Why foil?  Aluminum foil is virtually airtight when folded around a brush or rolled onto a roller and conforms to the shape perfectly, leaving minimal air for drying. A standard width piece cut about 12" long will cover a standard size brush or roller.

Be sure to leave lots of paint on the roller or brush before wrapping to get the longest storage time!

How well does it work?

I have wrapped rollers covered with Kilz fast drying primer and had them still useable for a few days.  I prefer to use thicker heavy-duty foil, which is less likely to tear. It is only a few cents more per roll than regular foil but well worth it.  If you think your rollers will be in for some abuse once wrapped double-wrap them! 

Want your brushes and rollers to last even longer?  Refrigerate them!

If you want those wet brushes and rollers to last even longer, throw… sorry… place them in the refrigerator. Then their useful life can increase by weeks! In fact, I have found month-old rollers still useable, buried behind the veggies in my fridge. Not that it makes my wife very happy… but that's another story!

The freezer?? Not for latex paints!

Some folks think putting brushes and rollers in the freezer is even better.  For oils, it doesn't seem to have a negative effect.  But for latex paints, freezing can cause the paint to become stringy and semi-solid.  These little bits of clotted paint will transfer to your work, leaving little lumps on the surface and making a general mess. Stick to the refrigerator!

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Jerry Alonzy, the founder of Naturalhandyman.com

Written by Jerry Alonzy

Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.

As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+.