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Home Improvement

Best Paint Brush

Selecting the right paint brush goes a long way towards ensuring a good paint job. Many people try to use cheap brushes and wonder why they have trouble keeping the paint application looking neat. Others try to use the same type of brush for every type of paint and find the finish doesn't come out smooth. Picking the right brush means taking a number of different aspects of the brush's design into consideration, the type of paint you are using, and what you are going to paint with it.

If properly cared for, good paint brushes will last for years; I myself have some paint brushes I've used for well over 20 years. While I don't use every brush every day or even every week, they all get plenty of use.

The trick to making brushes last is to buy good brushes and take proper care of them. The biggest thing is to avoid allowing the paint to settle into the ferrule as this is what usually ruins brushes. When you dip the brush, only dip about 1/2" to 1" of the tip of the bristles; this way you’re much less likely to get the paint into the ferrule. When you’re done, be sure to clean it thoroughly before storing.

We've prepared a paintbrush buyer's guide below that will tell you everything you need to know about what kind of brush suited for the paint project you’re preparing for.

Proform PIC1, 2-1/2” Picasso Oval Angle Sash Brush

I had never even heard of Proform paint brushes a few years ago, but they have really come up with some innovative products, that have taken the market by storm. Their commitment to quality is impressive as well; with their brushes all being made of top quality materials. This brush is one of their angled oval sash brushes. It combines the benefits of an angled sash brush with those of an oval brush. That allows the brush to accept a charge of 30 percent more paint, reducing trips back to the paint bucket and saving time. The oval shape works out extremely well for a sash brush as well. It’s much easier to get the brush to lay up against an edge or corner, than it would be with a standard rectangular brush. That makes it easier for you to get a quality finish, without having to struggle. Your paint job will look better and more professional, even if you aren’t highly experienced.

Purdy 140080325 2.5-Inch XL-Dale Paint Brush

Purdy has long been considered the number one choice of painting professionals. Almost all of the brushes I mentioned having for over 20 years are Purdy brushes, and they certainly haven't compromised that quality in recent years. A Purdy brush bought today is identical to the same model bought 20 years ago.

This brush is a 2-1/2 inches wide 1/2 inches thick angled brush with flagged bristle ends. The ferrule is made of copper to prevent rusting. It comes with an overlong handle, which is nice when one needs to step back from their work to see how the light is affecting it or to look for spots that don’t have sufficient paint.

Of all the brushes in a painter’s kit, this is the one that will get used the most, warranting the purchase of the best quality brush that you can buy.

Shur-Line 55535 2 1/2' Angle Sash-Poly Premium Select Brush

Shur-Line has come out with an innovative line of paint brushes, as they are the only manufacturer to make their brushes with Teflon™ coated polyester bristles. This is advertised to reduce painting and clean-up time by 30% over standard nylon bristles. The handles of the brushes are also Teflon™ treated. Satin-nickel ferrule resist rusting. While Shur-Line hasn’t had the reputation of Purdy or Wooster in the past, this new line of brushes could make their name for them.

Proform P2.5AS, 2.5 Inch Ergonomic Handle Paintbrush

This is another innovative price from Proform. It’s not another oval sash, like the one I picked out for the number one slot; this one is unique because of its ergonomic handle. Let’s face it, paint brush handles haven’t changed for a couple of centuries. You live with them the way they are. Proform broke from that mold, providing a much different handle design. While it takes a little getting used to, you’ll find that the ergonomic handle makes it much easier to hold the paint brush in a natural angle for cutting. That will save you fatigue, especially on a long day of painting.

Wooster Brush 4154 2.5" Ultra/Pro Extra-Firm Willow Sash Paint Brush

Wooster Brush 4154 2.5" Ultra/Pro Extra-Firm Willow Sash Paint Brush

This brush is the same size as the Purdy brush I selected as number one. Wooster uses two different types of nylon bristles, mixed together; which they claim provides for maximum paint pickup and easy cleaning. It comes with a steel ferrule, instead of copper; however, the steel has been treated to prevent corrosion. Wooster brushes have an excellent reputation for quality products that provide years of trouble-free service. Typically running a shade cheaper than Purdy, Wooster is the biggest runner up for number 2 as an overall company.

Proform PIC1, 2-1/2” Picasso Oval Angle Sash Brush

I had never even heard of Proform paint brushes a few years ago, but they have really come up with some innovative products, that have taken the market by storm. Their commitment to quality is impressive as well; with their brushes all being made of top quality materials. This brush is one of their angled oval sash brushes. It combines the benefits of an angled sash brush with those of an oval brush. That allows the brush to accept a charge of 30 percent more paint, reducing trips back to the paint bucket and saving time. The oval shape works out extremely well for a sash brush as well. It’s much easier to get the brush to lay up against an edge or corner, than it would be with a standard rectangular brush. That makes it easier for you to get a quality finish, without having to struggle. Your paint job will look better and more professional, even if you aren’t highly experienced.

Purdy 324330 3" XL Pip Brush

Purdy is still considered by most professional painters to be the top name in professional paint brushes, being trusted by more professional painters than any other brand. This oval paint brush is from their top of the line XL series; the “PIP” designation is the name that Purdy applies to all their oval brushes. The bristles are a unique combination of Satin-edged Nylox and Orel Polyester for maximum paint capacity and “no-drag” application. This brush is usable with all paints, but will probably work best with water based paints. A copper ferrule to eliminate rusting finishes off this high-quality brush.

Purdy 324730 3" Pro-Extra PIP Oval Wall Brush

Another Purdy brush; there's no denying that they are the best of the best. The major difference between this brush and the Picasso Oval Angle Sash Brush is in the bristles; they are both longer, and a different material mix. This brush is designed for use with oil based paints, especially oil based enamels, which are of a thinner viscosity than other paints. The longer bristles work especially well with these thinner paints. The stainless steel ferrule is impervious to rusting.

Wooster Brush 4235-3 Alpha Semioval Paintbrush, 3-Inch

Wooster produces a high quality, professional paint brush. Next to Purdy, they produce the best paint brushes on the market. The Alpha line is their top of the top line of brushes. This brush is designed for use with all types of paints. With the oval design and its filament mix it will carry them well to your substrate. The ferrule is stainless steel to prevent rusting; something not normally seen on paint brushes.

Proform CO3.0S Oval Straight Cut 70/30 Blend 3” Paint Brush

Proform probably has created the widest variety of oval paint brushes of anyone on the market. While their true innovation is in creating angled oval brushes, they also have straight cut oval paint brushes as well. This 70/30 blend brush is designed for using with all types of paints, but I think it will work best with latex and acrylic paints. I've selected the 3-inch brush here, but it comes in sizes ranging from 2 to 3.5 inches. Like the angled brushes, they've put quality into every detail of this brush, especially the attachment of the bristles to the handle.

Purdy 140080925 2.5-Inch Chinex Dale Paintbrush

Purdy ranks as, hands down, the professional painter’s brush of choice. This 2-1/2” angled brush is perfect for painting interior trim and wrought iron fences, two of the most common uses of oil based paints. The white china bristle is very consistent, straight, and easy to clean. I like Purdy’s Dale style of brushes because of the longer handle. The handle gives me a few more inches of reach for those hard-to-get-at spots.

Purdy 140400930 3" Chinex Swan Brush

This is essentially the straight cut companion to the angled brush I selected as number one. One only need look at the thickness of this 7/8” thick brush to see its quality. It is also a tapered brush, something that is a little harder to accomplish on natural fiber brushes. The tapering helps you control the brush, especially when using it for cutting. A stainless steel ferrule guarantees that it won’t rust.

Gam Paint Brushes PX02835 3-Inch Eco-Friendly Angle Wall Brush

GAM (Great American Marketing) has come out with what they are calling an “eco-friendly” line of paintbrushes. Part of their claim is that these brushes are better for the environment. While I’ve never seen a paintbrush that uses hardwoods from the rainforest, I like the idea of a bamboo handle. Bamboo handles repeated soakings and dryings without cracking, which is something that other woods struggle with. I also like the idea that they are making a donation to Rain Forest Rescue for every brush sold. This is an excellent choice for varnish, with extra-long bristles to carry more finish and maintain a smooth, streak-free application.

Wooster Brush Z3215-2 Shortcut White Bristle Angle Sash Paintbrush

Wooster is normally considered the #2 manufacturer of high-quality paint brushes, chasing hard after Purdy for that top spot. They haven’t put as much into their natural bristle line as they have in their synthetic line, but they still produce some quality china bristle brushes. This 2” angled sash brush comes with a short handle for reaching into tight places. I usually use a 2-1/2" angled sash for trim, but the 2" size is better for wrought iron. I don’t know how many times I’ve wished for a paint brush like this, especially when painting wrought iron.

Purdy 140300030 3-Inch OX-O Thin Brush

I chose something a little different for my last pick. While this brush is definitely a high enough quality to be number one, I’ve put it down here, because it is an unusual brush for slightly more unusual purposes. As far as I know, Purdy is the only company still producing Ox Hair brushes. These brushes are the softest bristle brush you can buy for a no-art brush. The Ox Hair bristles are ideal for applying clear and enamel finishes to furniture without leaving streaks in the finish. But be ready, these are expensive brushes. They’re also thinner than other brushes, which helps add to the flexibility necessary for applying that very smooth coat on turned, fluted, and carved parts of the furniture.

Wooster Brush A1147 1-1/2 Solvent-Proof Chip Brush

I like buying disposable brushes in quantity, as it ends up being cheaper that way. This package, from Wooster Brush, gives you 24 disposable brushes; enough to last for a while. While this particular package is for 1-1/2-inch brushes, they have the same thing for 2-inch, 2-1/2-inch and 3-inch. Wooster is one of the largest manufacturers of paint brushes, taking a close second after Purdy for providing top-quality brushes. These are white china bristle, so they are compatible with all paints. They are stiffer than many of the synthetic brushes, so they can also be used for glue and other higher viscosity materials.

Jen Manufacturing Original 2 Inch Poly-Brush Foam Disposable Brush

There are several manufacturers who make foam brushes, but Jen is the original. These are great when you need a smooth finish, such as applying stain or varnish. The foam brush head has a cardboard insert to help it maintain shape as well as being glued to the handle; so these brushes don’t fall apart easily. Actually, the foam will usually tear before the brush will fall apart. That’s much different than other foam brushes with plastic handles. Typically, those aren’t glued and the foam will work its way off the plastic handle. If I am going to use a foam brush, this is the one I pick.

Wood River White China Brushes- Shop Pack of 36

Like the Wooster brushes, these are china bristle, so they are compatible with all paint products. I especially like white bristle over black for use with stains and varnish. It’s hard to see those materials on black china bristle, but they show up clearly on the white. This package comes with an assortment of sizes; 12 each of 1-inch, 1-1/2-inch and 2-inch. With that sort of selection, you’ll have the brush size you need for a variety of different projects.

Woodstock D2025 Synthetic Bristle Brush Set, 50 Pieces

This is the king of all disposable brush sets… at least as far as size goes. There are 50 brushes in this kit, divided between 1/2-inch, 1-inch, 1-1/2-inch and 2-inch. That provides an excellent variety for a lot of different small jobs. The bristles are synthetic, rather than white china bristle, so they are a bit stiffer and thicker. That means that they won’t give as smooth a finish as the china bristle will. Nor are they very good for use with oil-based paints. However, they are a bit stiffer as well, which makes them excellent for glue and other brush applications.

Rockler Disposable Glue Brush

Sometimes, we look for a disposable paint brush, when what we really need is a glue brush. Glue brushes aren’t designed for creating a smooth finish, but rather for getting the glue from the container onto the surface that needs to be glued. These are made with horsehair bristles, so they will function more like an artists’ paint brush. The handle is aluminum, because these are often used with chemicals as well. Some refer to them as “acid brushes” because they are used for that purpose. If you need the bristles to be stiffer, just cut them off short with a pair of scissors.

Purdy 3-1/2 Inch Xl-Pip Oval Paint Brush 140324335

This brush from Purdy may not be four inches wide, but it’s a full 1-1/4-inch thick at the middle. That’s because it is an oval brush. All those bristles will carry a lot of paint from the bucket to the wall, making it easier to use, rather than a straight conventional brush. This brush is ideal for both enamel and standard latex paints. The ferrule is made of brushed copper for longer life. The natural hardwood handle resists solvents and other chemicals without splitting or damage. Being a Purdy, you can count on it being top quality all the way through.

Proform CO3.5S Oval Straight Cut 70/30 Blend Paint Brush 3-1/2-Inch

Although a newer contender in the market, Proform makes some incredible brushes. This 3-1/2-inch brush is also an oval brush, giving it the same paint carrying capacity as the Purdy. The ferrule is stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about rusting. Proform brushes are potted in a unique method that makes the bristles inseparable from the handle. Proform makes more models of oval brushes than anyone else in the market.

Shur-Line 55538 Beavertail-Poly Premium Select Brush with Teflon Surface Protection, 4-Inch

Shur-Line makes a unique line of paintbrushes, which have Teflon coated bristles. This increases productivity by increasing paint transfer from the brush to the substrate. Then, when it’s time to clean up, the Teflon coating makes cleaning the brush quick and easy. Flagged tips provide for precision accuracy when cutting. This isn’t an oval brush, but it is 4 inches wide. So, while it won’t carry as much paint as the oval ones will, it will still do a respectable job.

Wooster Brush 4173-4 Ultra/Pro Firm Jaguar Wall Paintbrush, 4-Inch

This brush from Wooster isn’t an oval brush, but it’s a full 7/8-inch thick, giving it a great paint reservoir for a straight brush. It’s also four inches wide, like the Shur-Line. The purple nylon and sable polyester blend are excellent for cutting control. The handle is maple for long life. This brush is ideal for all medium-bodied paints, such as latex and acrylic latex exterior paints.

Purdy 144400740 Pro-Extra 4-Inch Wall Swan Brush

If you’re painting with oil-based paints as your wall paint, you’re going to be better off with a brush that’s natural bristle, rather than a synthetic one. This 4-inch brush from Purdy is one of their many brushes that would be appropriate for use with oil-based paints or even varnish for covering wood paneling. The long bristles are firmly captured by the stainless steel ferrule, and attached to the hardwood handle. Like all Purdy brushes, this is a top quality tool.

Purdy 324330 3" XL Pip Brush

Purdy is still considered by most professional painters to be the top name in professional paint brushes, being trusted by more professional painters than any other brand. This oval paint brush is from their top of the line XL series; the “PIP” designation is the name that Purdy applies to all their oval brushes. The bristles are a unique combination of Satin-edged Nylox and Orel Polyester for maximum paint capacity and “no-drag” application. This brush is usable with all paints, but will probably work best with water based paints. A copper ferrule to eliminate rusting finishes off this high-quality brush.

Wooster Alpha 3 Inch Oval Paint Brush, #4234

Wooster Alpha 3 Inch Oval Paint Brush, #4234

While Purdy is often referred to as the number one company by paint professionals, Wooster has been giving them a good run for their money for many years. This 3” rectangular, straight brush has a stainless steel ferrule, attaching the bristles to a sealed ample wood handle. The bristles are a synthetic blend (they don’t say what type of blend) which they claim works well for all paint types. The bristles are “micro-tipped” for smooth finish application. This brush is 7/8” thick, so even though it’s not an oval, it still holds a sizeable paint charge.

Proform CO3.0S Oval Straight Cut 70/30 Blend 3” Paint Brush

Proform probably has created the widest variety of oval paint brushes of anyone on the market. While their true innovation is in creating angled oval brushes, they also have straight cut oval paint brushes as well. This 70/30 blend brush is designed for using with all types of paints, but I think it will work best with latex and acrylic paints. I've selected the 3-inch brush here, but it comes in sizes ranging from 2 to 3.5 inches. Like the angled brushes, they've put quality into every detail of this brush, especially the attachment of the bristles to the handle.

Shur-Line 55538 Beavertail-Poly Premium Select Brush with Teflon Surface Protection, 4-Inch

Shur-Line makes a unique line of paintbrushes, which have Teflon coated bristles. This increases productivity by increasing paint transfer from the brush to the substrate. Then, when it’s time to clean up, the Teflon coating makes cleaning the brush quick and easy. Flagged tips provide for precision accuracy when cutting. This isn’t an oval brush, but it is 4 inches wide. So, while it won’t carry as much paint as the oval ones will, it will still do a respectable job.

Purdy 144380530 3 Inch XL Elite Sprig Paint Brush

Purdy’s XL Elite line of brushes is actually a higher line than the XL line that my number one pick comes from. However, this line of brushes doesn’t include any oval brushes, hence the XL taking that number one spot. However, these are excellent brushes, designed to provide a superior finish without brush strokes. This particular brush is 5/8” thick, so it’s not as thick as the Wooster that I mentioned. The ferrule is stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about it rusting.

Buyer's Guide

Paint Brush Buyer's Guide

With so many types of paint brushes on the market, it can be a little daunting trying to decide what you need for the paint job you’re about to start. What brush size do you need? What brush material do you need? Is it really worth paying all that extra money for a high-priced brush, or is it just a gimmick to get you to pay more? These are all good questions requiring good answers in order to get the best possible paintjob. I’m going to give you a short course on paint brushes, so we can try and answer all those questions.

Brush Material

Nylon
Nylon and nylon mix brushes are probably the most commonly used paint brushes today. While it’s possible to use them for any type of paint product, they work best with latex and acrylic-latex paints which are all water-based. Originally, these brushes were made with round ends, but more advanced designs have “flagged ends” which have been roughened or split. This enables them to hold more paint. There are many variations on nylon brushes today, mixing other fibers in with the nylon.

China Bristle
This is sometimes referred to as “natural fiber” because the fibers come from animals. They are available in both white and black fiber. These brushes are best used for oil-based paints and primers. Stains and varnishes, which are also oil-based, work well with these brushes too. I like a white bristle brush for stains and varnishes, because it is easier to see if all the stain or varnish has been cleaned out of the brush.

Polyester
Although polyester is mixed with nylon in some high quality brushes, it doesn’t work well on its own. Typically, you only find pure polyester in cheaper brushes. The fibers tend to be larger and not flagged, so they don’t hold as much paint. I only use polyester brushes when I need a disposable brush such as with caustic chemicals or in a case where the substrate will damage the brush. One such case would be when painting wicker furniture; to effectively get in all the low spots of the weave, one needs to stab at the piece of furniture with the brush, an action which tends to bend the bristles.

Ox-Hair
This is the least common brush material, and the hardest to find. Ox-hair is used only where fine finishing is needed such as in the case of furniture. The soft bristles do better than any other material to avoid a “streaking” effect in varnishes.

The Basics
If you’re using oil-based paint products, use China Bristle and nylon or a nylon mix for water-based paint products. If you want to know which Nylon mixes are considered the best, check out the manufacturer’s web site, or compare the prices of the same sized brush form the same manufacturer.

Brush Shape

Angled
These brushes are designed for making cut-in easier. Essentially, the angle on the brush allows you to naturally hold the brush so it easily and naturally flows alongside the trim or other surface you’re to cut into. Angled brushes are used primarily indoors, where cutting into baseboard, window and door frames must be done exactly.

Rectangular Brushes
This is the original and still most common brush shape. Rectangular brushes are predominantly used in places where one needs to cover an area where a roller would be inappropriate, without accurate cutting. A common example of this would be painting exterior trim and fascia board. It could also be used quite effectively to paint interior corners; an area where rollers won’t reach but not needing the finesse of using an angled brush.

Oval Brushes
Oval brushes are a newer design, intended for use anywhere a rectangular brush might be used. Since the oval shape is thicker than a standard rectangle, it will hold more paint. I’ve also found it easier to cut trim with an oval brush.

The Basics
If you’re cutting inside, your best bet is to use an angled brush. If you’re working outside, an oval brush will most likely give you the best results.

Brush Size

The size of a brush you need is determined by what you’re working on. The larger the brush, the more paint it holds and thus less time spent dipping your brush in the paint bucket. However, you don’t want your brush to be so big it you’re painting outside the lines. Pick a brush that will fit comfortably in the area you’re painting.

The most common brush sizes used are:

2-1/2” angled brush for interior cutting and trim

3” rectangle or oval brush for exterior cutting and trim; wider brushes get heavy real quick

1” angled brush for window mullions which are the narrow strips separating individual pieces of glass in a larger window)

Signs of a High-Quality Brush

Brushes come in all sorts of “grades” from the el-cheapo disposable brushes to quality brushes a professional will rely upon for years. The following are some key characteristics to look for in a quality paintbrush.

Wooden Handles
You’ll never see a good brush with a plastic handle, and rarely see a cheap brush with a wood handle, unless it is a simple cutout out of cheap wood.

Thickness
Brushes of lesser quality are thinner than quality options. For example, a high-quality 2-1/2” angled sash brush will be 1/2” thick; a lower quality will be only 3/8” thick.

Bristle Length/Thickness
Lesser expensive brushes typically have short bristles as compared with high-quality brushes. Shorter bristles mean that you are much more likely to get paint into the ferrule (the metal part) and ruin the brush. Cheaper brushes usually have thicker bristles, which are easier to make but hold less paint.

Flagged Bristles
This only works on nylon brushes, because natural fiber brushes are naturally flagged. However, any synthetic brush that doesn’t have flagged bristles isn’t worth much.

Bristle Straightness
The bristles of high-quality brushes should naturally lay flat and straight, even after ruffling them with your hand.

Ferrule Width
Lesser quality brushes will have a narrower ferrule. Wider ferrules hold the bristles more securely.

Packaging
While this may seem like a minor consideration, it’s fairly important. High quality brushes come in a foldable cardboard sleeve with either a Velcro or cord closure, never in a plastic bag. The sleeve acts to protect the brush when not in use and it also shapes the bristles after cleaning.

Cleaning a Paint Brush

For your brushes to last a long time, they’ll need to be cleaned thoroughly every time they’re used. Afterwards, they must be stored in such a way as to keep the bristles straight, so that they dry with the brush in the right shape for the next use.

Cleaning Compounds
To start with, make sure you’re using the right compound to wash your brush. Since most paint today is water-based, water is therefore suitable to clean the brush. However, if you’re using oil-based paint, stain, or varnish, you’ll need mineral spirits to effectively clean the brush. Lacquer and other exotic finishes all require special cleaning products to properly clean the brush.

Remove Excess Paint
Before using any water or solvent, remove as much paint from the brush by wiping it on the edge of the paint can and brushing it over a scrap piece of wood or newspaper. The more paint you’re able to remove in this manner, the easier it will be to clean it.

Submersion
Submerse the bristles into water or solvent, without submersing the ferrule. Hold the brush with one hand and work the bristles with the other, cleaning the paint out of them. Replace the water or solvent as it becomes clouded, so you can see what you are doing. You’ll probably need to change the solvent a number of times, unless you are working under running water.

Thoroughly Cleanse
It is even more important to clean the inside of the brush, than to clean the outside. Spread the bristles apart to work the solvent into the inside of the brush, taking care not to bend the bristles to the point of kinking them. Use a brush comb or wire brush to help get the paint out of the area between the bristles. If necessary, use a wire brush to clean dried paint off of the outermost layer of bristles.

Drying
When the brush is clean, it will no longer cause the water of solvent to change color as you work the bristles. Remove excess solvent or water by flinging your arm, while holding the brush. Comb the bristles straight with a brush comb and wrap the brush in its original packaging or with newspapers to hold the bristles in position while they dry.

Bestcovery Staff
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
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