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Wallpapering tools in detail: The pasting brush

It is without doubt one of the most important wallpapering tools: The pasting (or painter's) brush It is used to spread the adhesive on lengths or strips of wallpaper, or on walls or ceilings (the term "ceiling brush" is also commonly used). There is a significant difference between the pasting brush and the wallpapering brush, the latter being used on the dry surface of the wallpaper.

Characteristics of the pasting brush/ceiling brush

Pasting/ceiling brushes are all structurally the same. The differences (in terms of length and materials) can be found in bristles and handles. The pasting brush consists of a rectangular, narrow wooden block (body) with bristles at the bottom. The top side is equipped with an ergonomically round handle made from plastic or wood, between 11 and 14 cm in length. A small hole for hanging the tool makes storage easier. At the lower end of the handle is a plastic hook to attach the brush to the paste bucket. Brush widths vary from approximately 15 - 20 cm, depending on model.

The bristles usually consist of solvent-resistant synthetics of about 7 cm length. Alternatively, pasting brushes made with real China bristles are available in specialist shops for painters/decorators, but they are significantly more expensive. "China bristles" come from Chinese pigs. Professionals use pasting brushes with wooden handles and pure China bristles.

The bristles are arranged tightly and densely, thus creating a very flexible, movable and absorptive brush. The colour of the bristles ranges from white to grey or black. Many of these particular pasting brushes have light outer bristles and darker inner bristles.

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Quality and price

Pasting brushes are generally inexpensive with prices starting at €1.50. The upper price limit is in the €10 region. But the price doesn't necessarily indicate the quality - consumers should depend on their best judgement and check the brush thoroughly before buying it. Professional, safe and simple use of the pasting brush depends on the following criteria:

  • The handle sits comfortably in the hand, the gripping material isn't too thin and can sustain a good amount of pressure. Try and squeeze the handle. What you are looking for is strong resistance. Also, make sure the handle is smooth: Whether it is a wooden or a plastic handle, there should be no protruding or sharp bits as these can lead to hand injuries.
  • The bucket hook, too, should be strong and stable, as there is nothing more annoying than having to put down the pasting brush on the (trestle) table.
  • Bristles should be firm and securely fixed. Brushes that shed bristles are obviously no good when it comes to wallpapering. Feel free to give individual bristles or a tuft of bristles a good tug. In a good - or excellent - pasting brush, this will not loosen any bristles.
  • Your eye will tell you if the bristles are arranged densely and in a regular manner. If you find that individual bristles come off (in whatever direction), or stick out, stay well away as they are not fit for purpose.

How to use your pasting brush

Pasting brushes are used to evenly apply wallpapering paste or adhesive (for instance a mix of paste and dispersion adhesive to increase adhesive strength). They are also used to prepare and prime walls. They can be used for applying paste to individual lengths of wallpaper (paper-based wallpapers) or directly to the wall (fleece/non-wove n wallpapers). For applying paste directly the walls and ceilings, paint or paste rollers are also available; they make for easier and quicker work. Paste rollers can be attached to a telescopic rod, dipped in wallpapering paste and rolled along the dry wall/ceiling. These paste rollers are also suitable for applying deep primer and other relatively liquid materials that strengthen and stabilise the surface of a wall or ceiling.

When soaking the rollers in adhesive or primers, less is always more. Otherwise the jelly-like paste will drip onto the wallpaper or floor, and/or the handle will be covered in paste - all in all a sticky situation! When dipping the brush into the viscous liquid, wipe the surplus off on the edge of the bucket to get the "dosage" right - you can always add more if necessary. Apply the adhesive from the middle of the wall to the sides. Move the brush with a flick of the wrist and a bit of pressure along the length of wallpaper or the wall itself and make sure the entire area is covered evenly. Afterwards, the brush rests on its hook in the bucket. Avoid putting the pasting brush down in a random place, as any dust or dirt particles will stick to it (and consequently to the wallpaper or wall!). If you do need to put it down, place it on a large clean piece of cling film.

Should you need to stop your pasting or wallpapering work for just a few hours, you can wrap the brush in cling film, too. This way, the bristles are kept damp and you do not need to go through an elaborate cleaning process. Once you have finished your project (or stop for the day), you need to thoroughly clean your pasting brush, dry it and store it in an appropriate place.

If you want to use your brush for various different materials, i.e. adhesive a well as primers, wash and dry it thoroughly after each use.

Cleaning and storing your pasting brush

As a general rule, it is sufficient to wash your brush under lukewarm running water. Using detergents is unnecessary, unless specifically stated on the packaging of the wallpaper paste, adhesive or primer. Then use a towel to wipe some of the water off the pasting brush and hang it in an well ventilated location so the bristles can drip-dry. Once both the bristles and the wood are completely dry, you can place the pasting brush in a plastic or textile bag. Make sure the hanging hole isn't covered by the bag if you want to keep the brush in a hanging position.

Differences between pasting brushes and wallpapering brushes

The pasting brush is for "wet" preparation work, the wallpapering brush is for dry use on the surface of the wallpaper. Other differences are also present, mainly in terms of appearance. The wallpapering brush should be kept away from adhesive as much as possible. Find out more details in our Guide Blog Wallpapering Brush.