Choosing the right brush

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To get the best results when painting, make sure you choose the right brush.  Brush quality and the right brush for the job will make all the difference.  Here are a few questions to help you find the right brush.  (Or, you can go directly to the bottom of the page where we recommend brushes for all of your DIY painting projects.)

Are you using a water-based or oil-based finish? 

paint_can

For water-based finishes, use ONLY brushes made with synthetic bristles.  Natural filaments, like Chinese bristle, soak up water and become floppy (like your hair when you wash it).  For oil-based finishes, you can use brushes made with either synthetic or natural filaments.  Although synthetic filament brushes may be used in with both water- or oil-based finishes, we do not recommend switching a brush back and forth between them.  Dedicate your brushes to one type of finish and stick to it.

What are you going to paint?

For trim, paneled doors, furniture, cabinets or anything with grooves, or where you have to paint close to another surface (e.g. where trim butts up against walls), use an angular sash brush.  Angular sash brushes, sometimes referred to as cutting brushes, make it easier to paint a clean line.  For flat surfaces, like flat trim or non-paneled doors and flat furniture surfaces, use a flat brush.  The flat edge on the brush will help to cover flat surfaces with fewer brush strokes.

How thick is your paint or finish?

Today's low VOC water-based paints tend to be thicker than older paints.  These finishes require a stiffer brush.  Brushes made with 100% polyester or with a combination of polyester and nylon are stiffer than 100% nylon brushes.  Also, if you are painting during warm weather, use a brush with some polyester as nylon tends to soften at higher temperatures.

Are you applying a fine finish?

Fine finishes require a soft-tipped brush to eliminate brush strokes. For water-based finishes use a 100% nylon brush.  There are also polyester brushes with specially tipped filaments (Crest and Zenith) that are formulated especially for these finishes.  If you are using oil-based finishes, use a brush that combines ox hair for smoothness with Chinese bristle. (Oxangle, Oxford, Oxana)

Other factors.

Other things to consider in choosing the right brush are thickness and handle design.  Thicker brushes carry more paint (fewer trips to the paint can) but are heavier.  If you want a lighter brush, look for a thinner version.  For example, Lehigh (nylon/polyester) is our most popular angular sash brush.  Pylon, is a thinner version of the same brush.

Handle designs vary widely.  Sash brushes are designed to be twirled in your hand as you paint.  They use rat tail handles (round) or sash handles (long and oval-shaped).  Beaver tail handles are designed to be held in your fist as you paint across long surfaces, like siding.  The more detailed the painting job, the more maneuverable the handle should be.

SYNTHETIC BRISTLE BRUSHES
 
(for use with water- and oil-based finishes)

ANGLED BRUSHES - for cutting, painting trim, cabinets, into corners, along wall junctions

All-around angled brushes

Lehigh
(nylon/polyester)

Lehigh180

Our most popular all-around trim brush.  Good for all paints and all surfaces.

Pylon
(nylon/polyester)
 Pylon180 A thinner, lighter version of Lehigh.  Easier to manage in tight spaces.
Bellringer
(100% polyester)
 Bellringer180 A stiffer brush made with chemically tapered filaments.  Good for thicker, low VOC paints.

 Angled brushes for finer finishes

Nyangle
(100% nylon) 
Nyangle180 100% nylon brush delivers a smooth finish.  Works best with lighter paints.
Crest
(100%
polyester) 
 Crest180 Very soft brush, formulated to mimic our ox hair/China bristle brushes.  Excellent for furniture finishes.


FLAT BRUSHES - for flat surfaces and covering large areas

All-around flat brushes

Lomax
(nylon/polyester) 
Lomax180 Our most popular all-around flat brush.  Good for all paints, all surfaces.
Eclipse
(100%
polyester) 
 Eclipse180 A stiffer brush.  Good for thicker low VOC paints.
Eureka
(100% nylon) 
 Eureka180 All nylon brush that delivers a smooth finish.  Best suited for thinner paints.  Will loose some stiffness on hot days.

A flat brush for fine finishes

Zenith
(100%
polyester) 
Zenith180 Very soft brush, formulated to mimic our ox hair/China bristle brushes.  Excellent for furniture finishes.

Flat brushes for big jobs

Avalon
(100% nylon) 
Avalon180 A 100% nylon brush that will deliver a smooth finish, but will tend to soften a little when used on hot days.  Only available in larger sizes (2 1/2" to 3 1/2").
Logan
(nylon/
polyester) 
 Logan180 The polyester in this brush gives it added stiffness.  Only available in larger sizes (2 1/2" to 4").
Pinnacle
(100%
polyester) 
 Pinnacle180 This brush is made with 100% polyester.  It is ideal for thicker, low VOC paints.  Only available in 3" size.
Zipon
(100% nylon) 
 Zipon180 A larger brush for large surfaces.  All nylon delivers a smooth finish, but may lose stiffness on hot days.  Available only in 3" and 4" sizes.
Lane
(nylon/
polyester) 
 Lane 180  Added polyester makes this a stiffer brush than Zipon.  It is also a little longer in length.  Available in 3" and 3 1/2" sizes.

 

NATURAL BRISTLE BRUSHES

 (for use with and oil-based finishes only)

 

ANGLED BRUSHES - for cutting, painting trim, cabinets, into corners, along wall junctions

All-around angled brushes

Superangular
(100% Chinese
bristle)
 
Superangular180 China bristle brush made for big jobs.
Thinangle
(100% Chinese
bristle)
 
Thinangle180 Same as Superangular (above) but thinner and lighter.

Angled brushes for fine finishes

Oxangle
(20% ox hair,
80% China bristle) 
Oxangle180 This brush will lay down a very smooth finish.  Ideal for varnish or shellac.
Dublox
(20% ox hair,
80% China
bristle) 
 
Dublox180 A thicker version of our Oxangle brush (above).

FLAT BRUSHES

For fine finishes 

Oxana
(60% ox hair,
40% China
bristle) 
 Oxana180 For a glass-like smooth finish, this is the brush to use.  The high ox hair content will deliver a satiny smooth finish.
Oxford
(20% ox hair,
80% China
bristle) 
 Oxford180 This brush is an excellent varnish or enamel brush for household or marine use.

 Flat brushes for general all-around use

Cyclone
(China bristle) 
Cyclone180 This 100% China bristle brush is excellent for large varnish and enamel jobs.  Available only in 3" size.