Choosing the best paint brush for decorating

With so many different kinds of paint brush available it’s difficult to know which type to choose. With a plethora of different bristle types not to mention handle materials available it is a bit of a lottery for the beginner.

The old rule is buy the best brush you can afford, and that can be true to a certain extent. The bargain basement brushes can definitely be a false economy, as anyone who has spent many an hour picking out hairs from their freshly painted walls will no doubt testify.

At the same time a very expensive pure bristle paint brush is an equally poor choice when apply water based paints as they absorb the water and can go a little limp and floppy making a sharp edge impossible and also not hold enough paint. For oil based paints however natural bristle brushes excel, leaving minimal brush strokes for a lovely smooth finish.

A good synthetic brush wil give a good result with water based paints as they are non absorbent and so maintain their shape.

The quality of the brush can be determined reasonably simply if you know what to look for, whether it be natural bristle or synthetic. A good brush should have densely packed bristles that taper at the end, and snap back to their original shape when bent back. The tips of the brush would ideally be what is known as flagged, meaning the tips of the bristles are split which allows them to hold more paint. The bristles should be firmly contained for minimal shedding, and should feel soft to the touch, coarse bristles can create quite noticeable brush marks.

When it comes to the material of the handle, it is to some extent the preference of the individual. The highest quality brushes tend to have wooden handles, but rubber is also a top choice for larger jobs such as apply emulsion paint to walls as it provides a cushioned grip, plastic handles for the most part are to be avoided.

Whilst knowing how to choose the right brush is only half the story, knowing how to use it is equally important.

Start off by rifling the bristles a few times and give the brush a good shake to remove any dust or loose bristles, it is a lot easier to do before you start painting.

Try to dip just the very tips of the brush in the paint, overloading your paint brush will lead to drips and runs and over applying paint to the surface.

Choose the right size brush for the job, for example you don’t want to be painting an intricate moulding with a huge brush, it won’t get into the corners and you’ll end up covering the surrounding are too. Likewise, emulsioning a large expanse of wall with a detail brush probably wouldn’t be too much fun either.

Grip the brush reasonably firmly, you’ really don’t want to drop it, but lightly at the same time, think of the way you’d grip a pen or pencil.