Which paint brush do I need?

If you go to your local hardware or big box home improvement store you’ll likely see an abundance of brush options: different sizes, shapes, and materials. You’re probably wondering which brush do I need? The good news is that you probably don’t need a wide variety, and one brush in particular will satisfy a majority of your painting needs.

If you are using a water based, latex paint, and there is not a lot of detailed woodwork or trim to paint, then this one brush will probably work for most if not all of your next project. I’d recommend a 2.5” Nylon/Polyester flat brush.

The brush size 2.5” works well because it holds a moderate amount of paint. 3” brushes can feel a bit bulky and make your hands and shoulders tired if you’re not used to the repetitive work of brushing. Smaller brushes allow you to get into smaller spaces but they also hold less paint which can slow down the process substantially and it also means more dipping which can tire your arms.

The nylon/polyester brush materials work well with the water based, latex paint and they rarely brake off and stick to the wall. This can be an issue with natural bristle brushes used in staining applications.

The brush shape—flat—refers to the squared shape of all the bristles. I prefer flat because it holds a bit more paint than an angle sash shape and I can use the brush in both directions without having to turn the brush head. If you have trouble getting into the corners with this brush then go with an angle sash brush. However, with a little practice I’m able to use the flat brush just fine in corners.

In a later article I’ll go into the uses of many of the other brushes. But for a basic painting project without a ton of detail work a standard 2.5” nylon/polyester flat (or angle sash) brush will work just fine.

One other thing I’ll mention is quantity. If you’re working with multiple colors or paint products you may want to purchase a brush for each product that you’ll be applying if you plan on doing this project in the same day. Otherwise you’ll need to wash each brush thoroughly every time you switch to a new product. You’ll need to wash them all out at the end of the day, but I find that it helps to maintain the pace of the work (and my morale) if I’m not constantly having to wash brushes while I’m trying to finish a project.

Hope this helps with your paint brush selection.

Happy painting!

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