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The 8 Best Paintbrushes for Nearly Any Painting Project

A high-quality paintbrush is essential when tackling any DIY painting or staining project. If used correctly, even an amateur can achieve professional-looking results.

Staff, Courtesy of Perdura

A fresh coat of paint can reinvigorate a tired porch, add much-needed energy to a playroom, or even jazz up your kitchen cabinets. Best of all, these projects can usually be accomplished without professional help, as long as you use the proper equipment—most importantly, a reliable paintbrush. The correct brush for the job will not only help you to finish quickly, but will also leave a smooth, even finish on your work surface.

Whether you’re an amateur DIYer who wants to repaint their trim, or a weekend warrior staining their deck, here are the best paintbrushes for you.

What to Consider

The first thing to consider when choosing a paintbrush is the product you’re going to be using it with. Oil-based paints and varnishes are best applied with a brush that has natural bristles—usually made of ox hair—that can hold a lot of product when loaded up, and leave a nice, smooth finish. Natural bristles are a bit more fragile than synthetic versions, though, and are more likely to snap or break off if you use them on rough surfaces.

Synthetic brushes like polyester or nylon are better suited for latex and acrylic paints and water-based finishes. If you’re not exactly sure what type of paint you’re going to be using, go with a nylon/poly blend. These all-purpose brushes should have you covered for a wide range of paint types. Foam brushes are another potential option. They typically leave a nice smooth finish, but are harder to clean and aren’t as durable as bristles. Foam brushes are usually discarded after use.

Regardless of which brush you choose, its lifespan will depend on how well you take care of it. Make sure to always wash it thoroughly after each use according to the recommended guidelines, and never let paint dry on it. This article from Purdy should provide all the cleaning instructions you need.

The shape of the brush is also another factor to keep in mind. Flat angled brushes are designed for use on large, flat surfaces, but aren’t great for following lines or edges. Angled brushes, on the other hand, while not very practical for large surfaces, are perfect for precision tasks like cutting-in edges, accessing corners, painting trim, or really any detail work.

The size of your potential paintbrush is also a factor to think about. Too small and you won’t be working efficiently, and too large and you’ll lose the maneuverability needed to create fine edges and get into tight corners.

How We Selected

I chose these options based on extensive online research of popular brands and models, as well as my own personal experience painting, staining, and refinishing furniture. I've been using Wooster and Purdy brushes for years and have always been impressed with their high-quality, which is why I included so many of their products on this list. Since there is a range of different painting and staining tasks that DIY-ers may face, I also did my best to include a variety of brush sizes and styles, so regardless of your project, you should find an option that works for you.

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Best for Precise Trim Work
Purdy 144080115

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Nylon/polyester
  • Shape: Angled
  • Size: 1.5 inches

I've used Purdy brushes for years, and have always had good experiences with their reliability and high-quality construction. The angular design and stiff bristles of this brush make it perfect for maintaining control when creating precise lines, and for cutting in around trim and molding. 

Its nylon and polyester bristles are strong and durable enough to stand up to regular wear and tear, and it can be used with all latex paints and primers. 

The 1.5-inch width also allows you to access tight areas, and the thin hardwood handle makes it comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

  • Well-respected brand
  • Durable bristles
Best for Outdoor Use
Purdy 144380330 XL

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Nylon/polyester
  • Shape: Flat
  • Size: 3 inches

This 3-inch Purdy is designed to stand up to the abuse of outdoor painting, although it’s still perfectly fine for using inside as well. The stiff construction of this brush makes it ideal for use in hot and humid climates, and the round, tapered filaments make for a smooth stroke every time. 

The cardboard “keeper” that comes with this brush ensures that the bristles maintain their shape after every use, and reduce the chances of mold or moisture penetration. These aren’t the cheapest brushes around, but their versatility and high-quality construction could be worth the investment.

  • Just as effective outdoors as inside
  • Leaves minimal brush strokes

  • Relatively expensive
Best Foam Brush
Jen Manufacturing 8500
Jen Mfg., Inc.

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Foam
  • Shape: Flat
  • Size: 4 inches

Foam brushes are great for using with varnishes, stains and urethanes, and are meant to be discarded after use. Their dense body also ensures a smooth application of paint or stain, and doesn’t have bristles that can leave lines and drips. 

These 4-inch brushes are large enough to absorb a good amount of product too, which allows you to use them longer without needing to frequently reapply. 

This kit comes with 24 in a pack, making them a great value if you plan on tackling multiple projects in the future. Plus, their sturdy wood handles provide a nice grip while you work.

  • Low price
  • No cleanup required

  • Not as versatile as a bristled brush
Best Ergonomic Grip Brush
Richard 80833

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Polyester
  • Shape: Angled
  • Size: 2.5 inches

The unique flexible handle of this Richard brush allows you to customize its angle to suit your specific painting needs. The angled bristles are well-suited for precision cut-ins, and the cushioned grip makes it comfortable to use for those all-day jobs. 

The threaded handle can even be mounted to an extension pole for accessing hard-to-reach areas, which reduces the need for ladders and step-stools. It is a bit pricey for a single brush, but we think the functionality and comfortable operation could be worth it to the right customer.

  • Extra-soft bristles
  • Flexible handle
  • Cushioned grip

  • Somewhat expensive
Best for Decks
Deck BOSS by Perdura

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic 
  • Shape: Flat
  • Size: 7 inches

If you’re planning on tackling a large deck staining job and want to be as efficient as possible, this 7-inch brush could be just the ticket. The impressive length, combined with its 2-inch thickness allows this brush to hold a ton of stain, so you can spend less time reloading from your tray or bucket. 

The universal threads are compatible with nearly all paint poles, which allows you to stay off your hands and knees and get your project done quickly. Depending on the layout of your deck, this brush can even cover the gaps between boards, saving you even more time.

  • Filaments are long enough to reach between boards
  • Large size for maximum productivity

  • Not ideal for smaller tasks
  • Relatively expensive
Best Paintbrush Set
Wooster Series 5239

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Polyester
  • Shape: Flat and angled
  • Size: 1, 1.5, 2 inches

This affordable brush set by Wooster will have you prepared for a wide variety of precision painting tasks, without sacrificing quality or functionality. It includes three brushes, 1, 1.5, and 2 inches in width, so whether you’re working on thin door trim or wall cut-ins, you should be covered. 

Their soft filaments ensure that you’re left with a smooth, mark-free finish, and are easy to clean when you’re finished for the day. The clamshell package also makes them easy to store when they’re not in use, and can be hung up on a pegboard until you’re ready.

  • Includes a variety of brush shapes
  • Durable hardwood handle
Best for Edgework
Wooster Brush Q3211-2
Wooster Brush

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Nylon/polyester
  • Shape: Angled
  • Size: 2 inches 

If you want your edges to be crisp and straight, you’re going to want to purchase one of these Wooster Shortcut brushes. Its short, 2-inch handle is designed to fit comfortably in your hand, and provides maximum maneuverability and control. It even has a decent amount of flexibility too, allowing it to be even more ergonomic depending on how you hold it. 

The low price of these brushes make them even more attractive, and even if you already have a brush that you prefer for edges, it might be worth it to grab one and give it a chance.

  • Provides maximum control
  • Low cost
  • Comfortable to hold
Best for Oil-Based Projects
Wooster Brush Z1222-2

Key Specs

  • Bristle Type: Natural 
  • Shape: Angled
  • Size: 2 inches

The natural white China bristles in this Wooster brush make it perfect for creating the smooth finish necessary when working with oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes. It’s also designed to keep its bristles securely in place, so they shouldn’t detach and disrupt your finish like lower-quality options can sometimes do. The steel ferrule won’t rust or corrode and the sealed maple handle is easy to keep clean when you’re finished. 

This brush is available in 2- and 2.5-inch options, and although it costs more than similar brushes, we think the high-quality Wooster craftsmanship is worth the extra cost. 

  • Natural bristles
  • Sealed wood handle

  • Somewhat expensive
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