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Choose the Right Paint Brush for the Job

Selecting the proper paint brush doesn't have to be guesswork. Different types of paints and surfaces require different equipment; using the wrong combination of paint and brush can lead to big problems. Before choosing a brush, you also need to know what type of paint you'll be using. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of different types of brushes by comparing their variable traits.

pile of used, colorful paint brushes and sponge on table

Natural vs. Synthetic Bristle Brushes

Both oil-based and water-based paints have distinctive pros and cons. More importantly, they require different brushes with bristles made of different materials. Bristles can either be made of natural fibers like animal hair, or synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon. When working with water-based paints a synthetic bristle brush is a must, while oil-based paints work better with natural fiber. Using a natural fiber brush with water-based paint will end in disaster; the bristles will absorb the water and become too weak to spread the paint. On the contrary, some synthetic brushes work great with either type of paint.

Brush Size and Shape

Paint brushes vary in size and shape to achieve different effects. When choosing a size, keep in mind how big of an area you will be painting. For big, flat surfaces like a wall, your main tool will be larger, like a 4" brush. For painting details like a trim, a good rule to follow for smaller surfaces is to subtract 0.5 inches from the available space and select a brush that size.

Flat brushes are great for spreading paint around open areas but can make a mess of the trim. An angled sash brush is designed to deliver precise control for fine details such as corners and trim. If you're painting the interior of your home, you're going to need both flat and angled brushes to make it visually pleasing.


Some materials are harder on paint brushes than others. Many large commercial buildings are made of rough brick or concrete and require stronger bristles to paint thoroughly and evenly. There are three levels of stiffness: soft, firm, and extra-firm. Extra-firm works best for rough surfaces and performs well in prolonged heat, while soft bristle brushes are great at minimizing visible brush strokes when applying a finishing coat. Firm brushes can serve as an all-purpose tool, covering everything between.

If you want to make sure your next painting project turns out picture perfect, contact us for more information, and request an estimate today.

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