I’ve become either smart or lazy with my paint brushes. I used to wash my brush, roller cover, and paint tray after every use. Not anymore.

Water-base paint, primer and stain, with one exception, are what I use. If I’m priming, and know I will be again within a few weeks, I no longer wash the brush or roller cover. Instead, I wrap the brush in a damp rag and place it in a plastic bag. My roller arm is quick-release. This makes it easy and mess free to knock a wet roller cover into a plastic bag. I’ve been painting the interior of my current build, a bit at a time, for the past few weeks. I have active brushes and roller covers wrapped for primer, ceiling white, trim coat, and the kitchen cabinet coat. I make sure to label the wrapped brushes and roller covers.

To keep an entire paint tray, roller arm and cover active, I first pull the roller to the top of the tray, out of the paint. I drape the paint-laden tray and roller with a damp rag, then place all of it in a plastic bag.

The one non-water base product I use is white pigmented shellac. I use this to spot prime knots and sap streaks. Pigmented shellac has some amazing properties. It dries to the touch in 15 minutes and is ready to recoat in less than an hour. Its working range is from 0 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It acts as its own solvent. If you’re spot priming knots and put your brush down when you hear Led Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song” for the first time in 20 years and you want to remember the chord progression, by the time you pick that brush back up, it’s solid as a rock. A few minutes working it in your cut container of pigmented shellac will get it back into shape.

Cleanup of pigmented shellac is with either household ammonia or denatured alcohol. I use ammonia since it’s more commonly at hand. During a job I keep my brush in a yoghurt container half full of ammonia. An X sliced in the lid will push over the brush handle and close the container. It will also keep the brush upright and keep pressure off the bristles.

When the entire painting project is done, all brushes and roller covers get a good cleaning. Everything is packed in the paint kit until needed again.