Foam brush and roller?

chris pearson

Michigan Canoe Nut
What size and brand foam brush and roller is best for a paint job. I've always just used a brush but want to try foam. I hear they work good but are there different levels of quality?:confused:
You'll like them, they do a great job. I brush then tip with foam, you'll know if they are the proper high density ones because they others will start to disintegrate in the middle of a job:mad::mad:
Just do a test, but you'll get a feel for the proper ones right away. I get them in multi packs for $9 from the hardware store, 1", 2", 3" assortment.

IMO, the only foam brush to use are the Jenn brand "brushes", Menard's carries them.

Use the 4 or 6" hi density closed cell foam rolllers for putting it on.

I often use a brush to tip it on paint, as the hair brush seems to work better then the foam brush.

I've had great luck by applying the paint with a 4" foam roller followed by tipping immediately with a dry bristle brush to get rid of the bubbles. I never paid attention to what kind of roller since our hardware store only carries one kind. I believe the ones they carry are a more expensive type. This technique leaves no brush marks and levels the paint out beautifully.
I've been painting and varnishing for decades and still can't do anything respectable with a foam brush, and not for lack of trying. I pick one up a few times a year and practice on my build up coats. They just don't work for me. They have a tendancy to "plow" through the finish leaving a heavy build up near the ends. The only use I have found for foam brushes is applying oils or sealers, especially in tight spots where you can jam the thing in and let the stuff ooze out. As far as rollers, I've probably used most of them and they all seem to do about the same as long as the packaging says they are intended for what it is you are applying. Roll &'s the only way to go. But I'd use a bristle brush.
on foam

I noticed a big difference in foam brushes. High density is the best by far. The cheap ones are tempting but are a waste of money in small amounts at a time. If you look closely at them you will see the little holes. The smaller the holes the better. Jamestown had some good ones. Home Depot has pretty good one's. Dollar store and other discount outlets seem to have a source for really bad ones. I do not have experience rolling and tipping but plan to try it someday. I actually prefer a good foam brush over a bristle brush, but I have to warn you, I am still striving for the perfect paint job.
This is a very interesting topic for me, since I hope to be applying paint to a new canvas some time soon.

I sent off an order to Northoods Canoe last weekend, for most of the materials for my project boat, and can hardly wait to get started !

I have never used a roller for anything other than interior latex in a house. Never even thought about using one for gloss enamel paint, so even though "roll and tip" sounds self explanatory, I am not real sure my guess is accurate about what it really means, so if someone wants to explain a little more I will appreciate it.

I always had good results using a top of the line horse hair brush with high quality oil based paints. I never added anything to speed drying, and I always felt the slow drying oil paints allowed what few brush strokes a good brush leaves to level out better. That said, it has been more than 30 years since I last painted a canvas canoe, and I don't remember any foam brushes or rollers even being available back then. A top quality hair brush has never been cheap, so if I can get as good of a result with a foam roller, I am very interested.

I am an old dog, but not against learning new tricks.

I am also interested in suggestions for paints. I painted, or touched up the paint, on the canoe I had years ago almost every Spring. I just always bought a good oil based enamel from the hardware store. I even used Rustoleum once with good results.
For me, the basic reason to use a roller is that it gets the paint or varnish on faster and more even then a brush can.

When I brush on either paint or varnish, I can't move fast enough to keep a wet edge, with the roller, I can.

I use a bristel brush for paint, a foam one for varnish, for me it just works better that way.

I haven't much experience with paint, I have either used Interlux enamal or Kirby's. I don't use enough to make trying other brands worth the effort.


Oh, I've never seen a good foam brush at HD, (or much else for that matter) if you can't find the Jenn brand locally, order them from Jamestown, and make sure they don't just throw the brushes in a bag, they should be packed so they stay straight and don't take a set, ie, have a bend in the edge. The last batch I got they shipped them in the original packaging, layered in light cardboard to protect the brushes.
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In a nutshell, here is how I roll & tip. Keep in mind that there are a lot of variables and personal prefferences to this method.
With everything clean, clean, clean, I roll on a section no bigger than what I can keep wet before moving on to the next section. Depending on temp, humidity, air flow, type of paint, and thickness of the coat, this can vary, but is rarely larger than 2 square ft., usually smaller. Roll it on with a foam roller, I like 3" or 4". Then immediately brush it out with a fairly dry brush, I like a 2" for canoe work. Always brush in the same direction and always brush into your work, never away. If your brush drags significantly when you hit the previous section, start making your sections smaller so you maintain a wet edge. Brush in one hand and roller in the other. No need to rush, but don't stop to answer the phone either.
I usually tape the centerline of a canoe and do one side at a time to avoid rushing from side to side. Don't take a break, but pull the tape immediately and continue with the other side. Unless you have real fast dry conditions, the tape line will meld into the finish becoming virtually invisible. Of course, if you have a keel, this isn't an issue.
My personal prefference is Pettit Easypoxy for paint. Hope this helps. My paint jobs are never perfect, but they ain't bad.