Paint Brushes

Sunday, 5 April 2009 | Tags: , , , , ,

When it's time to redecorate or do some paint touch-ups, the proper brush can give you anything from detailed preciseness to lots of coverage. Whatever your needs, we find out what it takes in a paint brush to make a great finish.

The Basics

  • The type paint you’re apply factors into your brush purchase

    • For water-based or latex paint, choose synthetic bristles.

    • For fine varnish work, a 100% polyester brush is a good choice.

    • For most other jobs, a brush with nylon-polyester bristles will suit your needs, and last longer than others, if you take care of them.

    • Natural bristles made from animal hair such as the Chinese hog are made for oil-based alkyd paint. If used with other paints, they absorb water, making the brush heavy and difficult to work with.

  • Since painting is usually a long process, find a brush that is light and well-balanced in your hand. Check alance by resting the metal part where the bristles fit in (the ferrule) on your forefinger. If it’s off-balance, it will tip towards one end.

  • For the most coverage, use a roller brush. If you’re not using a roller, choose a 4-inch brush.

  • For trim work and smaller areas, a 2-inch brush gives more precision.

  • Angled or sash brushes are designed for painting around windows or smaller areas.

  • If you look closely at the tips of some brushes, they’re split or flagged, which means they can hold more paint, and provide a smoother finish..

  • Foam or sponge brushes work for smaller jobs and can also be good for precision. However, they aren’t very durable and often rip after a couple of hours use.


Other Considerations

  • If you want your brush to last, you need to take proper care of it, whatever it’s made from. Clean well after every use and store hanging or flat.


We tried out different brands of 2 ½-inch, synthetic-bristled paint brushes and painted some old furniture with the help of some professionals. We tested:

  • Benjamin Moore: $16.99
  • Color Place: $3.28
  • Performance Plus: $10.58
  • Purdy: $19.99

Painting Test

  • The Benjamin Moore brush went on well. It was precise, easy to work with, and comfortable to hold.

  • Our professionals liked the Purdy brush because it held more paint, so required less dipping and made the job faster.

  • The Colour Place brush lost a bristle or two after a while, which was a definite minus.

  • The Performance Plus brush worked too, but didn’t hold as much paint as the Purdy.


This is definitely a product where you want a quality tool, so spending a little more on a Purdy or Benjamin Moore brush will give you a better finish.



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