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How To Choose The Right Paint Brush For The Job

Everything You Need To Know About Selecting Paint Brushes


Having the right tools ready for any home improvement job is vitally important. This is also true for items we may not automatically think of as tools. For example, a paint brush is as much a tool as a hammer. There are a number of different types of paint brushes, and each one has a particular use to which it is most suited. The right paint brush will allow you to apply paint more quickly and efficiently, as well as give you better results. No complete paint job was designed to be done with a “One Size Fits All Paint Brush.” There are a number of ways to determine how to select the proper paint brushes for your job.

Size and Shape – Size Matters!

Despite what may be true in other cases, when it comes to paint brushes, But – Bigger Is Not Always Better! Paint brushes come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and materials. Each combination is suited to painting a different surface or be used with a different coating. Although bigger brushes carry more paint from the can to the surface, it is how they release the paint that determines the quality of the paint job. It’s also impossible to put a wide brush in a narrow can. That’s why we carry a wide assortment of

{category_img id=47349 type=small align=right link=yes}Wall Brushes

A wide, flat-tipped wall brush is best suited to wide, flat surfaces. Choose this brush for painting interior or exterior walls and ceilings, broad-board fences, masonry, and other wide surfaces. Wall brushes are usually 4 inches wide, usually a minimum of 7/8 inch thick and less tapered than what has been known as in the paint industry as varnish or enamel brush. Wall brushes normally have a thick Beaver-tail handle with a firm grip and balance.

{category_img id=51080 type=small align=right link=yes}Stain Brushes

A wider flat-tipped stain brush is best suited to wider, flat surfaces to be covered with stain. Choose this brush for staining cedar shakes, siding, exterior plywood, decks, and other wide surfaces. Normally 3 to 6 inches wide and built on a block type handle designed to carry stain over a larger surface. Some stain brush handles can be unscrewed to be replaced with poles.

{category_img id=47347 type=small align=right link=yes}Varnish and Enamel Brushes

Varnish and enamel brushes feature a straight flat bottom tapered to help apply a smooth coating on smaller surfaces. They range from 1 inch wide to 4 inches wide, with 2 and 2-1/2 inch sizes being the most popular. Their handles can be a beaver-tail shaped medium weight handle designed for comfort, a Kaiser design for extra control, a thick shasta handle or a Dowel shaped round handle. Many 3 inch and most 4 inch widths are considered to be Wall Brushes.

{category_img id=47363 type=small align=right link=yes}Angle Sash and Trim Brushes

An angled sash and trim brush normally comes with a thin and long handle to aid in maneuvering and features an angled edge, best suited to painting trim and along corners (such as where walls meets ceilings), painting trim moulding, and performing other paint jobs that require a greater degree of precision. This brush provides better control and allows for an improved line of sight while painting. Angled sash brushes vary in width from 1 to 3 inch wide, with 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inch being the most popular. Professionals may opt for the wider widths. Angled sash brushes come with a slim long handle such as a rat-tail or pencil handle.

{category_img id=47365 type=small align=right link=yes}Straight Flat Sash and Trim Brushes

A sash and trim brush normally comes with a thin and long handle to aid in maneuvering. A small, square-edged or flat sash brush works best for painting thin objects such as the thin pieces of wood that separate individual panes of glass in doors or windows. Straight sash brushes vary in width from 1 inch to 3 inch with 1-1/2 and 2 inch being the most popular. Professionals may opt for larger sizes. Straight flat sash brushes come with a slim long handle such as a rat-tail or pencil handle.

{category_img id=47351 type=small align=right link=yes}Oval Sash Brushes

An oval sash brush is shaped similar to an round artists brush only crimped flatter so it is wider not round. It is designed to work with the intricate designs in carvings, scrolls and wrought iron railings normally with oil based paints. It features a tapered handle design.


Handles are constructed of wood, plastic or other synthetic materials. A good handle will provide comfort, and good balance. Despite their raw look, all better wood handles are sealed and finished before brushes are assembled. Naturally a low priced “Chip” maintenance brush is not. Some better synthetic handles are produced from elastomeric materials for increased comfort.

Ferrules, Spacers and Epoxies

Ferrules are the metal band that holds the filaments and handle together. They are usually attached by nailing, stapling or crimping. The nails vary from threaded and hardened steel to wire staples.

  • Tin Plated Steel – This economy ferrule is bright in finish but built more for quick utility or maintenance tasks.
  • Brass Plated Steel – This mid line ferrule is somewhat durable but far from professional.
  • Brushed Steel – This semi pro allow coating resists rust, but not as well as others.
  • Rust Resistant Steel – Coated for rust resistance and anti-corrosion, this material is normally a matte finish.
  • Stainless Steel – The most durable professional quality rust resistant dent resistant ferrule material. It may be plated, copper for instance, to enhance its appearance.

Spacers and Epoxies

Behind the ferrule is an epoxy or adhesive that locks the filaments or bristles in position. There are also strips of spacers that help create the reservoirs to carry paint.

  • Aluminum inserts have the maximum strength and are virtually indestructible. They are built into some of the finest professional paint brushes.
  • Wood inserts are durable and fuse well with the epoxy resins.
  • Plastic inserts do not absorb moisture and work well is some brushes.
  • Cardboard is an economy filler used for most economy and utility grade brushes.

Synthetic Filament Paint Brushes

Paint brush filaments or bristles can be made of a vast quantity of different materials. Different synthetic filaments have different characteristics and therefore produce a different brush, suited to different types of paint and different temperatures of the surface.


Nylon is a very durable filament that resists wear on rough surfaces. Nylon filaments last much longer than pure bristle and considerably longer than polyester. Nylon tips precisely for a smooth professional finish. Nylon cleans completely and easily. Nylon softens in hot weather and with prolonged use with latex paints. Nylon was developed with latex paint in mind, but is often blended with other filaments to enhance a brushes properties. For the professional, there are some advanced nylon filaments that maintain stiffness better as well.

DuPont Chinex®

DuPont Chinex® Lasts 7 times longer than bristle. It maintains its stiffness for control, even at higher temperatures and increased humidity. It was developed because with Today’s Low VOC coatings, it’s stiffness became a necessity. It is properly tapered, narrows down as it gets longer, tips well and offers the perfect balance of paint pickup and release. Chinex cleans completely and easily.


Polyester can vary greatly in quality and durability. While some can be chemically tipped, others do not tip well. Some are tapered, others are straight and some are hollow. Very thin polyester filaments virtually eliminate brush marks, but do not carry or release a lot of paint, therefore take more time to get the job done. Polyester is more difficult to clean and takes some time. This results in lower production.

Natural Bristle Paint Brushes

Brushes constructed with natural bristle, the best of which comes from China, should only be used for applying oil-based paints or for oil based clear finishes such as varnishes. Avoid using natural bristle with latex-based or water thinned paint products because it will absorb up to 40% of its own weight in water, causing it to be too soft to paint well. Rough surfaces break the tips off natural bristle so it will not produce a smooth glass like finish. Nylon is five times more durable than bristle so use a synthetic for painting rough surfaces, even with oil based paints.

Black Natural Bristle

Black bristle is slightly stiffer than white bristle. The tips have thicker flags than white bristle. It is excellent for high productivity in oil based interior and exterior applications.

White Natural Bristle

White bristle is softer and more flexible that black bristle. It has thinner feather like flags on the tips. It is excellent for fine finishing on the interior with oil enamels, urethane and varnishes. It is also used for fine finishing on exterior high gloss smooth surfaces.

Gray Bristle

Gray bristle is a cost effective blending of bristles that are unsorted and is fine for maintenance grade utility work with oil and rust resistant primers and enamels. It is softer than black bristle, and stiffer than white bristle.

Blended Paint Brushes

Nylon and Polyester Blends

Combining the positive qualities of both nylon and polyester can produce quality paint brushes. Polyester is used in the shorter lengths to add stiffness and control. Nylon in the longer lengths adds precise tipping and a smooth finish. Depending on the polyester content, nylon polyester blends can be more difficult and time consuming to clean.

Bristle and Nylon Blends

Combining the positive qualities of both bristle and nylon can create a brush with a super smooth finish and fluid glide. Nylon adds durability and improves cleanup. Designed for all paints, this blend works best in oil based coatings and high quality acrylics.

Bristle and Polyester Blends

Combining the positive qualities of both bristle and polyester creates added durability and stiffness for improved control. The finish created is smooth, but not as smooth as bristle alone. Can be used in both water based and oil based paints and wood finishes.

Foam Paint Brushes

An alternative to the traditional bristle brush is the foam paint brush. Rather than bristles, this brush is comprised of a shaped sponge. Foam brushes offer an affordable alternative to traditional bristle brushes. However, foam brushes do not last as long as traditional brushes and may not provide the thickness of paint coverage your project requires. They must not be used with shellac based or lacquer based coatings.

Firmness Matters… When It Comes to Paint Brushes

Soft Paint Brushes

Soft Paint Brushes flex better and create a smoother surface. Soft Paint Brushes are great for fine finish interior painting. Soft Paint Brushes work best in low humidity and cooler temperatures. They perform best with clear finishes, stains, lightweight paints, primers and fast drying coatings.

Firm Paint Brushes

Firm brushes are designed for a firm touch and glide and all purpose interior and exterior painting. They afford extra coverage and work best with medium weight coatings like acrylics and enamels.

Extra Firm Paint Brushes

Extra firm brushes offer a solid response and extra stiffness. Extra firm brushes are durable for exterior use and ideal for rough surfaces. Extra firm brushes perform well in heat and humidity. Extra firm brushes are best suited for thicker paints, low VOC and fast drying coatings.


Brush quality can vary greatly. A good quality brush should be springy, not stiff, when pressed against the palm. Individual bristles are split at the ends to hold more paint and should be of varying lengths. Taken as a whole, the bristles should form a tapered or chiseled point at the end of the brush. If you hold the brush so you see the side at eye level with the handle pointing down and the bristles aiming up you will be looking at the working edge of the paintbrush. It should be tapering down on both sides. A low quality brush, on the other hand, comes to a blunt end. The bristles will lack the tapering of a high quality brush and it may not have properly split ends that allow a good quality brush to carry more paint and deliver it to the surface better. After all you would not like the job you get if you paint your door, for example, with a whisk broom, but some cheap utility brushes are closer to that than properly designed painting tools.

Making the Decision

Selecting the correct tool for the job is simple. All it takes is a bit of forethought. When planning your project, take care to note what you are painting, the type of paint you are going to use, and the scope of the project. Match the brush to the needs of the project. If you are using latex paint on your barn, choose a wide brush with synthetic bristles. If you are applying a clear finish to the thin, wooden slats of a chair, choose a small brush with natural fibers. It’s that simple.

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One Comment

  1. Maryam Farmani Reply

    Dear Export Manager ,

    Good day

    Please kindly note that we are intrested in your paint brushes and rollers products , so it would be highly appreciated to send us your products catalog and price list to have an idea about positioning of the product in Iran market and doing a market survey .

    Best Regards
    Maryam Farmani
    Managing Director
    Nadin Tejarate Nami
    Mobile : 0098-9125455117
    Tel :0098(21)66085619

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