Painting - How to Choose the Right Paint Brush

Choosing the right paint brush has a big impact on the finished look of your paint job

Choosing the right paint brush seems like a simple decision, but the type of brush you choose has a big impact on the finished look of your painting job. Everything from the type of paint you use to the type of job helps determine which types of paint brushes work best.

Type of Bristles

The choice between natural and synthetic bristles is an important one. Natural bristles have a flagging or splitting at the tips, which helps produce a smooth finish and holds plenty of paint. Natural-bristle brushes are better suited for oil-based or solvent-based paints. The natural bristles are stronger, so they stand up to the chemicals and let you apply the paint without leaving marks.

Synthetic brushes come in different materials, such as nylon, polyester and a blend of nylon and polyester. These brushes are easy to use and clean up well. Synthetic brushes work best for water-based paint. Natural-bristle brushes draw moisture out of the water-based paint, making it difficult to apply properly.

Paint Brush Types

Paint brushes are available in angled and flat styles. Angled brushes work well for cutting in along edges and getting straight lines. Choose a thin angled brush when you need a particularly crisp line. A thicker angled brush holds more paint and works well along ceilings and for painting trim.

Flat brushes work well when painting a large, flat surface. Some flat brushes are designated for use on trim or for use on walls, with designs specific to those uses.

Choosing the right paint brush has a big impact on the finished look of your paint job

Bristle Ends

The bristle ends affect how well the paint brush picks up paint and releases it onto the painted surface. Flagged or exploded bristles on higher-end brushes let you pick up more paint with each dip. The split ends also help the paint go on smoothly without brush marks.

Brush Sizes

The size of the brush affects how well-suited it is for a particular job, including both the width of the bristle area and the thickness of the bristles. Thick brushes hold more paint to cover more ground before you need to reload, while thinner brushes are lighter and offer better control.

Choose a brush that is wide enough to cover efficiently, yet narrow enough for control over the paint application. If you're painting narrow trim, a wide brush doesn't work well. A 2- to 2-1/2-inch brush is a good general size that works for a variety of projects.  If you're painting narrow trim or small spaces, opt for a 1-inch brush. Large, flat areas work best with a 4-inch brush so you can cover the surface faster.

Paint Brush Quality

No matter what type of paintbrush you choose, focus on the construction quality for the best results. Look for dense bristles throughout the ferrule. Test the brush by bending it back near the base. A solid paint brush springs back. A tapered design with a slim profile at the end and flagged tips allow for excellent control and even coverage.

Reach for a brush with quality construction and the type of bristles best-suited to your specific project. When you do, your clients get smooth, quality finishes that make them come back to you over and over.