My mom, Queen of Bargain Hunting, is constantly finding high quality paint brushes for around 50 cents. One time she had to pay 80 cents, and she almost didn't buy them (true story). Since I paint a lot (way more than is normal), she always picks me up a handful.
I'm really terrible about taking care of my brushes. I usually designate one per paint color and only keep them if they're in really good condition. And if I use oil-based paint - forget about it. The rumor is you can use mineral spirits to clean your brushes after oil paint (says so right on the can), but I can't be bothered to test that theory out. Not for 50 cents (or, technically, free) brushes.
However, with all the painting I've been doing lately, I ran out of stock. So I braced myself and headed to pick up some paint brushes.
The key to a good paint job (especially on furniture) is in the quality of the brush. That's why people spend $15-20 on a brush. But I'll let you in on my paintbrush source and you'll never feel the need to spend that much.
I'm not a HUGE Big Lots fan. Like most other stores, they have their good points and their bad points. Just because it's there, don't automatically believe it's a great deal - because a lot of times their prices are higher than regular stores. But I have gotten good deals there - like my Kodak EasyShare. It was not refurbished (like a lot of Big Lots electronics) and was $15 cheaper than everywhere else I looked. Sure, it can't take a decent picture in my cave of a house, but it takes great action kid shots.
Anyway, they have a paintbrush selection that is super cheap. I've used their paintbrushes in the past and been pleased, so I had no issue with going straight there on the search for cheap paintbrushes for my dining table project. I'm using oil-based paint for super durability, but since I don't clean them - there's no way I was going to spend $15 a brush.
The oil paint I am using suggested that I use a natural bristle paintbrush. That's something I've never tried - so I had no idea what I was looking for. I found this 3-pack for $2. It said it had "Pure Bristles" which I guess means the same thing. For only $2, I figured I could afford to give them a whirl.
Not surprisingly, these brushes were crap. They shed like crazy, got terrible coverage, and left very prominent brushstrokes.
No more "Pure Bristles" for me. Luckily, I had also tossed one of these in my basket.
I used this brand before and been pleased with the results. It's called Painter's Essentials - and it might be a Big Lots brand for all I know. I've never seen it anywhere else and they always seem to have them stocked. I bought the 1 1/2" angled because of the detail on the chairs I was working on - $2.20.
My new, slightly less cheap, brush, worked wonders. Smooth, even coverage - very few brushstrokes. I went back yesterday and bought a couple of more to finish up the project. The 2" brush sells for $2.50 at my Big Lots - in case you were curious.
So, before you run out and spend $15+ dollars on a paint brush, check out Big Lots. You might get a bargain.