Brushmate

Brushmate is a convenient storage system for paint brushes that have been used for applying solvent-based (oil-based) paints, or other decorative coatings such as varnish or woodstain. Basically after using a brush, you simply hang it on a little brush hook inside the Brushmate, and days, weeks, or even months later, you can simply take it out and it’s still moist, and ready to use. If this doesn’t sound exciting enough, the guide below explains why this system not only saves an incredible amount of time, but also an awful lot of money, so read on to find out why a Brushmate is a fantastic piece of kit for keen DIY enthusiasts.

Brushmate sizes and system

Paint brush storage

The Brushmate Trade 4+ is ideal for DIY.

Brushmates come in two sizes, the Trade 20 which stores up to 20 brushes and the Trade 4+, which stores, yes you’ve guessed it, 4 brushes and maybe a couple more. The Trade 20 is really for the pros, but the Trade 4+ is I think the perfect size for DIY, and the model that I’m demonstrating in this guide.

From the outside, the Brushmate is little more than a box with a tight fitting lid, but the secret comes on the inside with the system used for keeping your brushes soft and moist.

Traditionally, brushes have been kept ‘stored’ in white spirit, but the Brushmate, rather than suspending the paint brushes in a liquid, uses a vapour to do a similar, but much more efficient job.

Setting up your Brushmate

It couldn’t really be simpler, but always remember to read the instructions for use that come with your Brushmate. The following sequence shows how you set up the Trade 4+ ready for use.

Vapour Mate 1. Open up your Brushmate and take out the package containing the fluid impregnated Vapour Mate pad. Cut out the panel as directed.
Inserting Vapour Mate 2. Position the pad in the side of the Brushmate as shown, and now you’re ready for use.
Brushmate hooks 3. Inside the Brushmate you can adjust hook positions for the paint brushes accordingly.
Brushmate hooks 4. After using a paint brush, simply suspend it on a hook inside, and it’ll be ready to use the next time you need it. One last thing – make sure that you keep the lid on at all times. Only remove it when taking paint brushes out, or putting paint brushes back in.

Brushmate limitations

Brushmate does have a few limitations which I’ve outlined below, so just be aware of these before you start using one.

  • You can only store paint brushes used with conventional oil-based paints – in other words, ones that you would otherwise clean with white spirit. You can’t store brushes used with water-based paints in the Brushmate.
  • You do have to replace the Vapour Mate pad periodically, although it can last up to six months if you keep to the rules in making sure the Brushmate lid is tightly on. But as long as you do change the Vapour Mate when indicated (by one of the stars on the ‘cut-out’ panel fading), brushes can literally be stored indefinitely.
  • You can’t store brushes with brass or copper ferrules and rivets in their handle construction.
  • Some paint brush handles may loose their surface coating, or slightly soften. Personally I’ve never found this to be an issue.

Savings

The initial saving you make is time. No more cleaning out brushes, they’re ready for use as long as you don’t have to change colour. However, typically, most of us use oil-based finishes on woodwork, which for the most part is white. Therefore my Brushmate has two or three ‘white’ brushes in it of slightly different sizes, and maybe one or two ‘coloured’ brushes. The ‘whites’ are obviously the most used, and if I do need a colour change with the others, occasionally cleaning a brush is less of a chore than always having to clean them!

Equally as important is the money-saving situation. Since having a Brushmate, my white spirit use has dropped nearly to zero and also, I don’t need to buy anywhere like the number of new paint brushes I used to, as they no longer get damaged by constant cleaning, which can fairly quickly damage the bristles.

Buying a Brushmate

As mentioned earlier, I think the Trade 4+ is more than sufficient for DIY use. As far as I know, you won’t find Brushmates in the regular DIY outlets, and so you’ll need to go to a trade outlet like a Dulux Decorating Centre to buy one. However, another option is to buy the Brushmate Trade 4+on Amazon at a very competitive price.

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