Painting with a brush comes into play when you need to coat trim molding, doors and windows, or when you need to do around the corners between walls and ceilings, known as "cutting-in", when painting a room with a rollers. Using a brush can get a bit messy if you're careless while loading it or when you need to set it aside to do other things. Below are some tips and techniques for handling a brush and applying paint to get good coverage and a professional looking finish with minimum mess.
Hold the brush as you would a pencil or pen, grasping around the ferrule and pointing the bristles toward the work surface to apply the paint. This techniques will give you maximum control and help in keeping your hands or the brush handle clean. Keeping things clean will improve the overall results and make the job go more smoothly.
When working with a brush use a small pail to hold the paint and fill it with only enough to cover about 2/3 of the bristles. Load the brush by dipping it partway into the pool and then tapping the bristles on the side of the pail to work the paint in and blot any drips. Avoid overfilling the pail so when you set the brush down it won't get paint under the metal ferrule between the bristles and the handle. This will ruin a brush in short order as the paint dries under the metal band and clogs things up, making the bristles stiff and useless.
When you need to set it down as you work, set the bristles down into the pail and lean the handle against the rim. Cover the whole thing with a damp rag to keep it from drying out if you will be away for an extended period.
It will take some practice to gain control and get clean, straight lines when painting freehand. If you don't have the time to devote to becoming skilled with a brush, masking tape can be used to get straight lines around a white ceiling or along trim moldings.
But if you do want to get good with a brush here are some tips for learning to do it like a pro. For improved control over a standard straight cut brush, use a sash tool for cutting-in. Hold it as described above and load it with plenty of paint. Work the excess onto the surface just next to the line before moving to cut it in. Point the bristles into the corner and press down so they spread out just a bit. Draw the brush along slowly, keeping the bristles evenly spread out. To keep the line straight as you go, focus your attention on the point where the flatten bristles meets the corner. Don't try to force the paint to cover all at once, if it gets spotty just go back over it again until you get it right.
When you just need to get the paint on to cover a bare or rough surface load the brush well and apply the paint to the surface with short back and forth strokes. Reload again if necessary to saturate the surface with a thick coat of paint. Then smooth it out with long, light strokes that blend the finish together into a solid coat.
To smooth out a paint coat start at one end and brush in long, easy, back and forth strokes. Don't try to spread it out too far before reloading, if it starts to drag, stop and reload right away to keep the coating smooth. When you've done one section, start the next a little out from the end of the first and stroke back into the wet paint to blend the two together into one, cohesive coat.