Type of filament (brush material)
Filament are the bristles or hairs on a brush. There are a range of bristle options, including synthetic bristles and natural bristles. Some of the
- Synthetic Filament: non-natural manufactured bristles specifically developed for paint brushes. Synthetic brushes work well with most paints and coatings, but work best with water based paints.
- 100% Pure Bristle: made from natural bristles. Hog bristle is popular with American manufacturers. Natural bristle brushes are a great option for oil based paints with natural oils.
- Poly-Bristle Blend: a combination of natural and synthetic bristles. Also a great option for oil based coatings and oil paints.
Style of brush
There are a wide range of brushes available for a wide range of projects. From angled brushes for cutting in, to flat brushes with a straight edge for wall painting, brush shapes are as varied as the painting projects they are used for. Generally brush styles fall into two categories - general paint brushes (also known as wall brushes) and cutter brushes, for cutting in.
Paint / Wall Brushes
These are the most standard and common type of brush. With a short handle in comparison to cutter bushes they come in various widths for various painting jobs. They are ideal for painting flat surfaces, which means they are commonly used in combination with a paint roller, or on their own instead of a roller.
Wall brushes can also be used to apply different types of paint if you're looking to produce a smooth finish or a textured surface. A roller can sometimes produce similar results, but a brush gives you more control when applying specific coatings.
These are popular brushes for cutting in before roller painting. Specially made for door and window frames and ceiling/wall/corner sections. They generally have less filament than wall brushes as paint holding capacity is not paramount while the long handle helps to control the stroke. There are several alternative shapes in these long handle brushes.
- Sash Cutter: is a full bodied cutting in brush ideally suited for the application of water based paints.
- Oval Cutter: is a compromise between the two other styles because of its oval shape. It gives greater control and accuracy on the edges of the brush and holds more paint in the centre.
- Angle Cutter: is basically the same as the sash cutter however the top of the brush is made at an angle rather than straight across. The head of the brush and the ferrule are both made at an angle so that the tips of the filament or bristle are retained. This angle assists the user to be able to cut to a sharper more accurate area.
Size of brush
The other thing to consider is the size of your paint brush. As a lot of leading brands are American, you'll often see 1-inch brushes, 2-inch brushes and 5-inch brushes advertised online. In most cases, these measurements are converted to Australian metric millimetres for Australian customers.
Some of the most common sizes available for common painting projects include:
25mm: For small jobs & touch-up work such as chairs & timber
38mm: Suitable for furniture, small panels, window frames, trellis,
mouldings, shutters and downpipes.
50mm: For small to medium size work such as doors, screens,
table tops, railings and cabinets.
63mm: A handy size for outdoor furniture, cupboards, gutters,
eaves and doors.
75mm: For medium to large areas such as fence posts and rails,
floor boards, steps, skirtings and fascias.
100mm: For all large areas. Most suitable for walls, floors, ceilings,
Quality of brush
A good brush holds more paint, makes paint application smoother and reduces paint spattering. A quick way to check this is to feel the "pack" of the filament; the combined bristles. It should feel full and slightly resistant when touched.
Although cheaper brushes will not last as long as premium grade brushes, they are quite suitable for the occasional job where finish, quality and brush life are not critical.
One of the best ranges of high-quality brushes comes from Purdy and you can read more about their products here. Purdy makes a variety of brushes, which means you’ll always be able to find the right Purdy product for your paint job.
Do professionals use rollers or brushes?
The simple answer is that they use both. Professionals will often use paint rollers in conjunction with wall brushes and cutter brushes to achieve a consistent finish on larger flat paint surfaces. They'll stick to paint brushes for smaller, tricky spaces and cramped spaces where using a roller just isn't practical.
While a roller reduces brush marks, it can leave streaks if you don't carefully remove excess paint before application. In general, professionals avoid cheap brushes that are more likely to leave streaks, but they tend to avoid the most expensive paint brushes too because they still want value for money.