Tools that stop working are the most costly tools to have around. In 2013, for us, it wasn't the expensive tools that stopped working. It was tools in the under $20 price range that bit us. Here is a run down on some of the disappointments of 2013. We suspect that you will see a common theme.

  • Shame on you ...
    Shame on you ...
  • Shame on me ...
    Shame on me ...

Wooster 9" Roller Frames

Yep, the old saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Well, it's on us, Wooster. You made a nice looking frame with a sweet handle at a great price point. The only thing missing was the stamp that should say: "One time use only." Thanks for just about nothing. Twice. We purchased both of these in professional paint stores that serve contractors. Clearly, not a contractor grade tool.

Purdy: A couple of Things

Purdy is still on our short list as a brush manufacturer, but we have some issues in other categories.

  • Great concept ...
    Great concept ...
  • Not quite there yet ...
    Not quite there yet ...

1. The whole 9? roller thing. While we love the idea of the solid plastic cylinder to eliminate the cage and make the frame easier to clean, there were two problems here. First, only Purdy roller covers fit on this. We don't buy Purdy roller covers and we don't want to have to buy them in order to check out a better frame. Second, the frame had a habit of getting loaded and caked in places that can't be cleaned, causing the roller to bind up, and, well…not roll. Further, taking it apart to clean is not an option. Nor should we even have to consider that. Keep it simple. Don't over engineer.

Launch Slideshow

Jumbo Mini Coater

Jumbo Mini Coater




    Nice handle and feel ...




    Problem area …




    End cap stayed right in the nap … not good




    Not part of the plan …

2. Speaking of roller frames, the Jumbo Mini Coater left quite a bit to be desired. At best, they were difficult to clean. At worst, they totally fell apart.

3. And finally, this was great…right up til it wasn't.

Again, we hold Purdy paint brushes in very high esteem. We purchase and use a lot of them. Some of our favorite brushes for certain applications are made by Purdy.

Don't change your paint brushes.

Maybe let some of these other categories go, or put a little more R&D into them. Send them to us prior to launch.

Again, don't mess with your paint brushes.

  • Well that didn’t go as planned …
    Well that didn’t go as planned …

And The Jekkyl and Hyde Award goes to:

For profound lack of consistency ... Proform Picasso brushes.

  • When they are good, they’re great.
    When they are good, they’re great.

This one is a real mind game. A game with no middle ground. The brush is either dynamite, or falling apart junk. No in between.

It's a home run or a strikeout, every time up to bat. While we love home runs, we can't be striking out half the time.

Brush work is too important.

Figure it out, Picasso. Unlike Purdy, please, mess with your brushes. Make them consistent.


From all this you'd imagine that there must be something learned…

These are just a scoop of "on the job" failures we experienced this year. Everyone of these tools is put out by brush or applicator manufacturers and costs less than $20. As a group, applicator technologies can't be falling behind what other paint industry tool manufacturers are producing, and we hope to see them all step it up in 2014. The tools that broke remind us that no one has time for nuisance failures that stop production, especially when they are under $20 items.

We have said it before, and it bears repeating: It's not the elephants that'll kill you, it's the mosquitoes…

What tools landed on your junk pile in 2013?

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Topcoat tests and reviews new product technologies, in many cases, months in advance of their release to the public. Our projects and state of the art shop facilities are the testing grounds for our paint tool reviews. For more information, visit