How to clean Hammerite off brushes

by Sam Wood | Last Updated: 24/03/2021

Hammerite has a reputation for being really hard to clean off your brush after your done painting. But is this reputation justified anymore, or is it leftover from a different era when Hammerite had a much different formulation?

Is Hammerite hard to clean off a paintbrush?

The simple answer is no, not anymore. It is no harder to clean than most oil-based paints. But the reputation Hammerite has for being hard to clean is not unjust, it is simply outdated. You see, Hammerite did use to be incredibly hard to get off a paintbrush, to the point where most users would simply throw the brush away or buy the expensive official cleaners.

This is down to the fact that Hammerite used to be a xylene paint, so you needed xylene thinners to thin and clean it. The problem with this is xylene isn’t cheap, leading to the thinners being almost as expensive as a tin of paint. So users would often use cheap brushes with the intention of simply throwing them away when done.

The Easiest Method

Brush cleaner is by far the easiest method to clean Hammerite off a paintbrush.

Really Easy To Use
Polycell Paint Brush Cleaner, 500 ml
£4.50
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09/23/2021 04:36 pm GMT

You can use white spirit to clean Hammerite or the official thinners and cleaners, but what I have found to work best is brush cleaner. 

Brush cleaner is easier to use than Hammerite as it binds with the paint better. All you need to do to clean Hammerite off a paintbrush is simply dip it in the cleaner and brush it around.

Black hammerite paint on a brush

Black Hammerite paint on a brush

Here we have some Hammerite on a paintbrush, lets try cleaning it with paintbrush cleaner.

Brush Cleaner in a plastic tub

Brush Cleaner in a plastic tub

I put some of the cleaners into a plastic tub ready to use.

You can see the hammerite binding to the cleaner

You can see the hammerite binding to the cleaner

You can see how the black paint has “stuck” to the brush cleaner and come completely off the brush. This happens in a matter of seconds and all you need to do is swirl the brush around a little.

Nice and clean

Nice and clean

Now the brush is nice and clean.

White Spirit

Newer Hammerite however does not seem to be xylene based anymore, probably as a move towards being a more environmentally friendly paint. What this means is that with the new Hammerite you can simply use white spirit to clean. I will demonstrate this for you in the video below, cleaning some smooth black Hammite off this brush using good old white spirit.

As you can see there is nothing difficult to it and it is really no different from cleaning any other oil-based paint. In fact, this brush cleans up really well to say I was using black paint. So any paint thinners or brush cleaners for oil-based paints will work well with Hammerite on most paintbrushes.

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Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!