Buying Guide

Best Paint Brushes for Your Project

Types of Paint Brushes

The two main types of brushes are made from either natural or synthetic fibers.

Natural Fibers

Natural brushes are softer than synthetic and perform better when paired with oil-based paints. 

Comparison of Natural Fibers
Bristle Brush - Wooster - Paint Brushes
Art Brush - Premier - Paint Brushes
Wall Brush - Wooster - Paint Brushes
Description Black China Ox Hair Blend White China
Recommended For Recommended for oil-based paint, stain and varnish Recommended for oil-based paint and varnish Produces the smoothest finish of all natural bristles, but more expensive Recommended for oil-based paint, stain, varnish, polyurethane, lacquer and shellac Produces a smoother finish than a black China brush
Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic brushes offer more versatility and can be used with all paint types.


  • Recommended for water-based paint; most can also be used with oil-based paints
  • Not recommended for applying shellac or lacquer

Nylon/Polyester blend

  • Recommended for water- based and oil-based paint
  • Bristles vary in stiffness; softer bristles will produce a smoother finish


  • Can be used for water-based or oil-based paint and stain, as well as varnish, lacquer and shellac
  • Stiff bristles tend to leave brush strokes
Brush sizes and shapes

Most paint brushes are between 1 and 4 inches wide and are available with straight or angled edges. Each shape is designed for a specific paint job.

1-inch (straight edged or angled)

  • Corners or window sashes
  • Edging, trim and windowsills
  • Tight corners, fine detail work

2-inch (straight edged or angled)

  • Woodwork and trim
  • Framework and molding
  • Cutting into corners

3-inch (usually straight edged)

  • Large flat surfaces
  • Cabinets, doors, beams, fences, stairs

4-inch (usually straight edged)

  • Very large surfaces
  • Ceilings, walls, siding, floors

There are more job-specific brushes designed for hard-to-reach spots, including radiator brushes for painting old-fashion cast-iron radiators, and stucco brushes.  


Taking proper care of your brushes is just as important as buying the right brush, so you can continue using them time and time again.

Clean your brushes in warm, soapy water as soon as you’re finished painting, but do not leave them soaking.

Store brushes in their packaging to help them retain their shape when not in use.

If possible, hang your brushes to dry, or lay them flat.


Don't guesstimate, calculate. Know exactly how much paint you need with our project calculators.