How to Choose the Right Wire Brush for Professionals

Wire brushes are the ideal choice when trying to remove rust and oxidations, paint, slag, weld spatter and other unwanted surface contaminants without removing any base material. But with so many options available, how do you choose the right wire brush for the job? Let's review the four main factors to consider when choosing a wire brush:

  1. The type of wire
  2. The diameter of the wire
  3. The filament configuration
  4. The trim length


1. The Type of Wire

Wire brushes are available in carbon steel, stainless steel, brass and nylon. Brass and nylon are fairly versatile and can be used on most any workpiece, while carbon steel and stainless steel are best paired with specific material types. Selecting the right one is as easy as choosing the right wire type to compliment your workpiece material. Use our handy guide.

  wirebrushes-nylon wirebrushes-stainless wirebrushes-brass wirebrushes-nylon
Workpiece Material Carbon Steel Stainless Steel Brass Nylon










Carbon Steel/Metal


Stainless Steel



2. The Diameter of the Wire

A good rule of thumb to follow would be to select very fine to fine wire for light-duty jobs and medium to coarse wire for heavy-duty jobs. If you need more specifics, here's a map matching wire diameter to grade.

Wire Coarse Medium to Coarse Medium Fine Very Fine
DIA in IN .032 .020 .020 .015 .012 .0104 .010 .008 .006 .005
DIA in MM 0,80 0,50 0,50 0,37 0,30 0,26 0,25 0,20 0,15 0,13

3. The Filament Configuration

Wire cup, wheel and end brushes come with three options for filament configurations and each has its own benefits.

  1. Crimped Wire Brushes - Individual filaments are supported only by each other, creating extra flexibility. Ideal for work on irregular surfaces, finer surface finishing, and light- to medium-duty contaminant removal.
  2. Standard Twist Knot Wire Brushes - Made with straight wire filaments that are twisted together to make more rigid rope- or cable-like pieces. The choice for more aggressive applications requiring higher-impact action and a rougher surface finish.
  3. Stringer Bead Twist Knot Wire Brushes - Filaments are more tightly twisted to the end of the knot compared to standard twist knot brushes, creating a narrower face and highest-impact action. The choice for tough weld scale cleaning, removing the bead scale that occurs at the initial joining of two sections of pipe, root and hot weld pass cleaning, and the most aggressive brushing applications.


4. The Trim Length

Trim length equals the amount of usable filament on your wire brush. To choose the right trim length, these best practices will come in handy:

  • Irregular surface - choose longer trim lengths for more flexibility
  • Sever applications - choose shorter, more rigid trim lengths for faster action


Wire Brushes from Norton

Check out our full selection of wire brushes for professionals and don't hesitate to contact us if you need further assistance.