Paintbrush Guide

Paintbrush Handle Style


Sash Brush

Long, thin handles in regular, rat-tail, and pencil styles provide extra control.


Sash Brush

Medium, contoured "beavertail" handles are designed for a comfortable feel.


Sash Brush

Round, thin pencil-style varnish handles make the brush easy to rotate.


Sash Brush

Large, thick beavertail style allows a good, firm grip and balances a large brush head.

Paintbrush Bristle / Filament Type

Ox Hair

Natural | Price: $

Natural bristle material obtained from the ears of oxen. Extremely thin, soft and expensive. Tips come to a natural point for super-fine finishing and flow. Always blended with china bristle. Perfect for lacquer, enamels, marine paints, clears and varnishes.


Synthetic | Price: $

Maintains stiffness for control, and resists heat and humidity. Excellent paint pickup, smooth release. Cleans completely and easily. Can be used with oil-based/alkyd and high-grade acrylic/water-based paints and stains.

Bristle Blends

Natural | Price: $

Combines positive qualities from nylon or polyester and bristle. Add durability and stiffness to a standard bristle brush. Can be used with oil-based/alkyd and high-grade acrylic/water-based paints and stains.


Synthetic | Price: $

Very durable and resists wear on rough surfaces. Tipped very precisely for smooth, professional finish. Cleans completely and easily. Softens in hot weather or prolonged use in latex.

Nylon / Polyester

Synthetic | Price: $

Combines positive qualities of nylon and polyester. Polyester adds stiffness and control to the brush. Nylon delivers precise tipping, smooth finish. Takes some time to clean.


Synthetic | Price: $

Does not absorb water, and resists heat and softening. Lasts 2 1/2 times longer than natural bristle.

White (China) Bristle

Natural | Price: $

Softer and more flexible than black bristle. Thin, feather-like flags on the tips. Excellent for fine finishing. Best for varnish, urethanes, stains and marine coatings.

Black (China) Bristle

Natural | Price: $

Slightly stiffer than white bristle. Thicker flags on the tips than white bristle. Excellent for high-productivity or exterior. Best for oil-based/alkyd trim paints and enamels.

Paintbrush Style


Larger brushes hold more paint and help you finish faster (less refill). Angled sash vs flat/straight is just a matter of user preference. Angle sash is typically more popular overall and more effective on vertical surfaces.

1/2 in. to 1-1/2 in. : Hobbies and Crafts, window mullions, tight corners, very detailed areas.

2 in. to 3 in. : Baseboards, cabinets, furniture, window frames, casings, moldings, cutting-in edges of walls, and ceilings. (2 1/2" most common brush size)

3-1/2 in. and up : Exterior siding, decks, fences, walls, ceilings, doors.


Soft Stiffness

Uses: Great for fine-finish painting and interiors. Extra flex and smoothness for a softer touch.

Paints: Clears, stains and lightweight paints and primers. Slow-drying coatings


Firm Stiffness

Uses: Designed for all-purpose painting. Interior and exterior. Just-right taper for even coverage with a stable touch and balanced flex.

Paints: Standard paints like acrylics and enamels.


Extra Firm Stiffness

Uses: Durable for exterior use and rough surfaces. Sharp edge with a solid feel and superior stiffness.

Paints: Thicker paints and primers. Low VOC and high build coatings.


Typically use a synthetic-bristle brush for water-based paint and natural bristles for oil-based paint.

Clean your brushes in warm, soapy water, thinner or specified cleaner 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.

A common problem known as "hatbanding" occurs when painters use a Paintbrush for cutting in and a roller to apply the rest of the paint, thus producing a different texture along the ceiling and trim. To prevent hatbanding, roll the paint as close to the cut-in areas as possible.

  • Dip the brush no more than a third of the way into the paint. To avoid dripping and keep your fingers clean, do not sink the brush up to its metal ferrule!

  • Lightly tap both sides of the brush against the interior wall of the can or bucket.

Make sure to keep a wet edge and continue to paint from that point forward. Use long, smooth strokes and refill the brush as soon as the paint starts to break in coverage.