Choosing the Best Brush for the Job

There are just two things to consider when choosing a brush:  1. What kind of paint are you using and 2. What areas are you going to paint.

The vast majority of painters use brushes from ½ inch to 6 inches.  Each one is designed for a specific paint project.  Smaller paint brushes typically are used for trim and smaller areas such as window frames and large paint brushes for larger areas and covering surface areas faster.  Pros use the largest paint brush that is suitable for the surface because it will carry the most paint and reduces the overall time it takes to complete a project.  I once knew a woman who painted the ceiling in her home with a 2 inch brush but it took her a week!

A brush is composed of a handle, a ferrule and bristles.  The longer handled brushes help balance the paintbrush when it is loaded with paint.   The ferrule is used to attach the bristles to the handle.  And  paint brush bristles are usually one of two kinds, natural or synthetic.  Bristles are always chosen according to the type of paint that you are using.

If the can label says alkyd, oil or oil-based, you need a natural bristle brush.  When paints were oil based, natural bristles from hogs were the best medium for brushes.  But with the advent of water-based coatings, synthetic bristles made form nylon, polyester or some combination work much better.  Synthetic brushes are more stiff in a water medium, they won’t go limp as fast as natural ones and they clean up easily.

The size and number of bristles will also distinguish one paint brush from another.  And the shape or ‘chisel’ of the end of the bristles and how they are finished all count when looking for a better product.  Generally, you get what you pay for.  If you are not sure how brushes work, buy two or more and try them out.  Better brushes always hold more paint, release paint more easily and hide brush marks to give you the best finished product.

written by: Thomas Moorhouse