What is the Difference Between Paint Brushes?
There are paint brushes made for oil
based products and brushes for water-based products. Brushes come in
a variety sizes, shapes, handle types and of course, different qualities.
Choosing the right brush will make your work easier, faster and better.
Natural bristles typically are made with animal hair. Chinese
bristle is usually made with hog's hair or ox hair. They are best for
oil based paints, varnishes, shellacs, and other finishes. Natural bristles
should never be used with water based (latex) paints. The water is
absorbed by the natural bristle and causes the brush to swell up. Natural
bristles develop splits in the tip (flagging) which results in smoother
application of the paint and thus fewer brush strokes.
Synthetic bristles include nylon, polyester and nylon/polyester
blend. A synthetic bristle is the proper choice for water based (latex)
paints. Nylon and nylon/poly blend brushes can be used for oil or water
based paints, but a polyester brush is best suited only for latex
Foam brushes can be used for oil or water based paints.
They work best with thin products, like stain and polyurethane finishes.
They wear out quickly and are best used as throw away task brushes.
Extended use of a foam brush can result in bits of the foam breaking
off and sticking to the finish.
Choose a brush that matches the size of what you are painting.
Wide brushes hold a lot of paint and cover more area and so are
the best choice for painting walls. A small brush (1 to 2 inches) should
always be used for painting narrow trim and small surfaces. Don't turn
a wide brush sideways to use the narrow edge, that will damage the brush.
Brush size is a factor in the selection of the right brush,
but the cut and tips of the bristles are also a factor. A sash brush
is sized for fine work on window sashes and trim. An angled
sash brush cuts the bristles across the width at an angle, allowing more
control in delicate, close-in work.
The tips of some brushes are beveled across the thickness
of the brush. The bevel allows more control for "cutting-in" paint;
for example, cutting-in the line between a wall and the ceiling.
The quality of a brush is reflected in the price. A quality
brush has more bristles, properly sized-sized spacers between the bristles,
a rust-resistant ferrule to secure the bristles and uses top-quality
bristles. A quality brush will hold more paint, will provide smoother,
brush mark free results and, with care, will last
Cheap brushes will rust, lose bristles and typically have
a large spacer that reduces the number of bristles. Fewer and low quality
bristles means more dipping into the paint can and more work in trying
to get a smooth, brush-mark free finish.
Handles come in bare wood, plastic or lacquered wood. Most
professional painters choose an unfinished wood handle because they are
easy to hold and are more comfortable.
Handle shapes also vary. Beaver-tail handles bulge in
the middle, helping you grip it in your palm. Rat-tail handles are
long and straight making them easier to hold for fine detail work. Many
other shapes are available and your selection should be made based upon