Choosing a Paintbrush

by April Reinhardt
(last updated June 26, 2015)

Several years ago I decided to paint our living room walls. I found the color of quality latex paint I wanted on sale at my hardware store, but the synthetic paintbrushes that my salesman recommended were more expensive than the natural-bristled paintbrushes on sale. I rationalized that the natural-bristled paintbrushes had to be better than the synthetic, especially since they were on sale. Three hours into painting the living room, I had to stop for the night, washed my brushes in soapy water, and left them on paper towels to dry. Continuing to paint the next morning, I noticed that the brushes were not applying paint as smoothly as they were the day before. After visiting the hardware store again and speaking with a paint expert, I learned that the best brush to use with latex paint is a synthetic brush, since natural bristles absorb water from paint and become softer the more you use them. Choosing a paintbrush should never be based solely on cost. Consider the following when choosing paintbrushes:
  • A good quality brush will have a hardwood handle.
  • Choose brushes that have bristles that vary in length, with flagged ends. Flagged ends allow the brush to hold more paint, spread paint more evenly, and allow for a smoother surface.
  • Buy the best quality brushes that you can afford since they will do a better job than cheap brushes.
  • If you are using oil-based paints, use a paintbrush with natural bristles, such as ox hair or hog's hair.
  • Choose a paintbrush with synthetic bristles if you are using latex paints.

Consider the surface area that you are working with when choosing a paintbrush. If you are painting trim or molding, you need a small brush than the type you need for a wall. Experts agree that you will only need three types of paintbrushes for completing home painting projects. For walls, use a four-inch wall brush. For sash and trim work, use a one-and-a-half-inch sash brush and a two-inch trim brush. Angled brushes are good for trims and moldings, while flat brushes are best for painting up to the edge of corners.

If your painting project involves a large room, or several rooms, remember that you will hold a paintbrush in your hand for a long period of time, and choose a handle with which you are comfortable. While you're perusing paintbrushes at the hardware store, hold the paintbrush in your hand and imagine yourself using it for a long time. A large handle on a four-inch brush will most likely be better than a skinny handle, such as on a trim brush.

Remember to clean your paintbrushes when your project is complete. If you maintain your brushes properly, they will last for years over many home painting projects.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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