I am an artist who is always exploring different materials, tools, and processes.
What Are Foam Brushes Used for?
You find them in virtually every store that sells craft or paint supplies. Cheap and single use, most people think they are only for trim work or where brush marks would be objectionable. But they are good for so much more. Also, I can get 2 or 3 uses or more out of them before I toss them and buy more. This article will document some not-so-obvious applications for foam paint brushes.
A selection of uses for different creative pursuits such as sign making, wood staining, metalworking, artistic and decorative painting, and unusual cleaning methods are covered here.
6 Lesser-Known Foam Paint Brush Uses
- Applying Wood Stain
- Cleaning Automobile AC Vents
- Applying Acid Pickling Solution to Clean Metal
- Foam Brush as an Improvised Stencil Brush
- Painting Raised Lettering on Signs
- Painting Plants
1. Applying Wood Stain
The foam brush makes it easier to apply stains to wood projects evenly. Either dip the brush into the prepared stain and apply in even strokes or drizzle a little stain on the wood and quickly spread it in long, even strokes, preferably along the wood grain. A rag can be used to wipe off excess stain or flip the brush over to remove excess.
In my other article, “5 Ways to Stain Wood in the Studio,” I used foam paint brushes in every stain I personally applied. It was nearby, and the results were good.
2. Cleaning Automobile AC Vents
This is a very simple hack for foam paint brushes. The pointed end of a one-inch foam brush easily fits between the vents on most automotive air conditioners. Not exactly a heavy-duty use, the foam brush will last quite a long time just removing a little dust.
3. Applying Acid Pickling Solution to Clean Metal
Most paint brushes can not withstand strongly acidic or corrosive cleaners and rust removers. That is because the bristles might be nylon, which is attacked by acids, or the metal ferrule would be damaged.
Not the case with a foam paint brush. I'm not sure what polymer the foam is, but I suspect urethane. In any case, I have used them to sponge on 15% hydrochloric acid to steel that I have braze welded. It makes the removal of flux and heat scale so much easier.
4. Foam Brush as an Improvised Stencil Brush
When a simple stenciled image is needed, the foam brush can serve well here. Just carefully dip the end into desired paint and wipe the excess off, then gently blot through stencil pattern. You don’t want paint that is too thin or runny, or it could run under the stencil pattern.
5. Painting Raised Lettering on Signs
Just like the stenciling technique mentioned above, the foam brush can easily do the opposite: The foam paint brush can be used to apply paint to raised letters on a sign.
Air brush, spray guns, and spray paint cans require extensive masking to do this job effectively. If there is overspray or related errors, sanding or application of solvents might be needed. Bristle brushes have the disadvantage of the bristles bending and applying paint to unwanted areas.
Foam brushes are relatively flat and have no bristles, so they can apply paint strictly on the top if so desired. It is for this reason that they are recommended for painting raised letters on signs.
6. Painting Plants
As the video below shows, it is easy to paint plants using the chiseled edge of the foam brush. Watching this video should open you to endless decorative possibilities. The foam brush would be great for abstract work or to soften the edges of a color or image on a painting.
Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on September 20, 2019:
Your welcome I may add to this list when the need arises.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 20, 2019:
Some very useful suggestions about using the foam paint brushes.
I liked your videos and would refer to them again.
Thanks for sharing this useful information.
RTalloni on September 12, 2019:
Oh ho! Clever post here. I've used foam brushes in alternative ways for painting as you've described but the cleaning is a why-didn't-I-think-of-that moment. I'm now going to keep a stash in cleaning supplies.