Anatomy of the Paint Brush: Choosing the Best Brushes for Your Professional Painting 2

Long before there were rollers and airbrushes, there was one tool that could be counted on by painters of all types: brushes. Despite the emergence of new tools that can cover a lot of area in a short amount of time, some work will always be best handled by a brush. Even those favoring paint automation and robotics admit that it would be silly to dismiss the technology responsible for the Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel! Different paint work requires different tools and despite the best efforts of technologists and scientists, paint brushes will always have a place in our sector.

Professional paint brush.

Finding the right brush is essential to success.
Image courtesy of Lilyfield Life.

Walking into an arts and crafts store makes it quite clear that there are a number of paint brush choices available for artists. From small brushes to fan brushes and all sizes and shapes in between, the brush options available to those painting landscapes, portraits, and still-life is almost overwhelming. But what about those of us painting furniture, cabinets, or trim work? What paint brushes are available to us?

While there are a wide range of options for professional painters as well, most paint brushes intended for commercial use are primarily differentiated by their width, their handle, and the material used for the bristles. The combinations available are near endless based on these factors.

  • Width: Width can range from one inch to six inches. Wider brushes can obviously cover more area, but can be difficult – if not impossible – to maneuver into tight spaces.
  • Bristles: Natural paint bristles are excellent for oil-based or acrylic paints, while synthetic bristles (such as nylon or polyester) are versatile enough to work well with water-based paints,acrylics, and latex paints. Furthermore, bristles can be rigid or flexible depending on the work you are doing. Solid bristles hold up longer than hollow bristles but also carry an increased cost.
  • Handle: Handles primarily come in “beaver tail” style (most common) or “sash” styles. As the name implies, the beaver tail handle looks like an elongated oval and can vary between two inches and five inches in length. The sash style handle is long and straight and provides increased control for the painter, but can be difficult to use in small spaces.

Each combination of width, handle, and paint-head material lends itself to specific use for specific jobs. While narrow and firm paint brushes are excellent for detail work in small spaces (like crown molding) and wider, soft brushes are great for working with large textured surface areas (like interior cabinets), the real determining factor in what brush to use comes down to you, the professional painter.

Painting a front door.

Detail work requires a smaller brush.
Image courtesy of Mom Start.

Determining the best combination of width and paint head material most often comes from experience. What works great for one paint professional may not work for another. As your primary focus should be providing excellent work at all times, you should choose tools that help you accomplish that goal. The reality is that your choice of paint brush will be different than someone else for the same type of work. That’s fine – through trial and error you should be able to find and settle on the exact type of brush that helps you produce great work every time you open a can of paint. Click here to learn more about the tools available to professional painters including great measurement tools and meters produced by BYK!

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Different Paint Brush Bristles for the Professional Painter | BYK | Selecting Proper Painting Tools

  2. Pingback: Learning to Be a Great Professional Painter | BYK | Mastering Techniques from Draw Down Cards to Brushes

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