Selecting your paintbrush like a pro

Trying to make the best paintbrush selection? We’ve alleviated some of the worries by compiling some guidelines for picking a paintbrush.

Desired Results

The quality of the tools you employ is just as critical as the approach you utilize. Brushes of superior quality will cost more than brushes of lesser quality. Superior grade paintbrushes feature flagged bristles, which means that the ends of each bristle are divided. They are engineered to better hold paint and leave fewer brush scratches on your surface.

Avoid attempting to save a few bucks on your paintbrushes, particularly for huge visible areas. Using a high-quality paintbrush on a job makes a significant impact. If you want a flawless finish, you must spend appropriately. While purchasing lesser brushes may be more cost-effective, high-quality brushes will last longer with appropriate cleaning and storing.

A less expensive brush will do for tasks that do not demand a high level of finish. Touch-ups or minor paint jobs may suffice. You can also apply deck stain or sealer well using a large, cheap brush.

Maintain the Life of Your Brushes

A paintbrush that is properly cared for may endure numerous jobs. Brushes should be cleaned after each usage to prolong their life. After usage, foam brushes and inexpensive brushes may be discarded. When properly cleaned after each use, high-quality paintbrushes may last a long time.

If the paintbrush is applied properly using the brush, no paint should ever accumulate in the belly of the brush. Not more than half of the bristles should be painted.

The solvent you use to clean your paintbrush will vary according to the kind of paint you are using. The best recommendation is to follow the guidelines on how to clean your paintbrush provided by the paint manufacturer. Typically, these directions are printed on the paint container.

Paints That Are Water-Soluble

If your brush is made of latex or similar water-soluble paint, you may clean it using a specially formulated brush detergent. Dish detergent, on the other hand, will efficiently remove the paint off the bristles and is far less costly.

Clean as deeply into the bristle as possible. While washing with warm water, press the brush down on a surface to force the bristles to splay. Rub the bristles with a sponge equipped with a light-scrubbing surface to remove any caked-on paint. Then rinse, rinse, rinse some more. If you paint often, you may choose to invest in a brush comb, a specialist instrument with wide-set metal teeth meant to separate the bristles of a paintbrush while cleaning.

Paint with an oil base

If you’re using oil-based paint, swirl the brush for 30 seconds in a cup of paint thinner or lacquer thinner, then wipe the paintbrush against the cup’s side. You may need to continue this step many times until no paint is seen flowing from the brush. Wash the brush one last time with soap and water, shake it out, allow it to dry, then keep it in the sleeve it came in.

Shake the brush a few times to align the bristles and hang to dry, allowing the bristles to breathe. This aids in the paint brush’s rapid and proper drying. Once dry, re-sleeve your brushes to keep the bristles flat and protected. Keep the cardboard coverings that come with more expensive brushes and reattach them for storage. Visit to read about The Right Way to Handle a Paintbrush.

If properly maintained, a decent paintbrush can provide several benefits. Taking the effort to properly clean and preserve them is critical to their lifetime.

Oil and acrylic paint brushes

Brushes with supple bristles

Smooth paint strokes are achieved with soft brushes. Sable, mongoose, or soft synthetic brushes are good for blended, flat paint surfaces. The paint’s consistency should be somewhat fluid with these brushes since they lack the power to apply heavy body paint (like thick, buttery acrylics). This also means they are ineffective for wet-in-wet layering, a technique that needs hard paint.

Long-bristled, soft brushes are ideal for creating irregular, “hairy” traces at the end of a brushstroke—a characteristic that comes in handy when depicting things that need delicate lines, such as hair and grass.

Bristles with a rougher texture are ideal for producing rough effects or thick impasto layers. Hog bristle and stiff, springy synthetics are ideal for thick paint and will create artistic imprints in the pigment. They may be loaded with paint and are a favorite among wet-in-wet painters; they can be dragged over wet paint, making them perfect for layering.

When used with fluid paint or insufficient paint, these brushes create scratchy, unattractive areas or markings.

Brushes often used in oils and acrylics


Flat brushes are really useful. Their large bristles let them lay down smooth swaths of color, create lengthy, dramatic strokes, or create tiny, crisp lines when used in conjunction with their edges. The edges of marks formed with a flat brush are distinctively square.


Round brushes are available with pointy or blunt ends. Both may be used to make a modulated, linear mark by varying the amount of pressure applied during the stroke; the pointed round is perfect for fine detail. They create an uneven, fractured patch of color when used on their sides in a scribbling motion.


Filberts are flat brushes with a long bristle length and a rounded tip. These brushes, which are popular among figurative painters, can generate a range of markings from wide to linear, without the square edge of a flat brush. When used on its side in a scribbling motion, filberts may also create a flat area of color with no discernible brush strokes.


The brilliant is a flat paintbrush with a short bristle that is suitable for quick, controlled strokes. It is suitable for use with thick paint and, like the flat, leaves markings with defined, square borders. It is not appropriate for wet-in-wet layering; the short, stiff bristles of a brilliant will remove rather than contribute to the underlayer of paint.


Fan brushes are flat, spread brushes with a spherical tip. While the fan is not used to produce the majority of a painting, it is useful for modifying markings and generating unique textural effects. Fans may be used to merge and soften the edges of painted forms, or to stipple or flick paint onto the canvas, which makes them ideal for representing grasses or fur.

Posted by Samantha Butlin