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24 Different Types of Paint Brushes

A collage of paint brushes.

Quicklist: Paint Brushes

  1. Household Paint Brush
  2. Art Paint Brush
  3. Angled Sash Paint Brush
  4. Wall Paint Brush
  5. Finishing Paint Brush
  6. Round Sash Paint Brush
  7. Flagged Bristle Paint Brush
  8. Trim Paint Brush
  9. Foam Paint Brush
  10. Stencil Paint Brush
  11. Natural Bristle
  12. Synthetic Bristle
  13. Nylon Bristle
  14. Engineered Nylon Bristle
  15. Polyester Bristle
  16. Nylon/Polyester Blend Bristle
  17. Black China Bristle
  18. Ox Hair Bristle
  19. White China Bristle
  20. One-Inch Paint Brush
  21. Two-Inch Paint Brush
  22. Three-Inch Paint Brush
  23. Four-Inch Paint Brush
  24. Paint Brush Set

The earliest brushes used for painting were made of animal hair. In fact, the reason we call the end of a brush “bristle” is that it initially was made from the bristle, or coarse hair, of hogs, pigs and boars.

The thick hair of northeast Asian Kolinsky sables is still valued as among the best material for watercolor brushes. Luxuriously thick and soft sable brushes are made from tail hair — traditionally from sable martens of Siberia and Mongolia, gathered after the winter season when the animal’s tail has filled out and is particularly bushy.

Up until the 18th century, each strand of animal hair was hand-glued to the handle by a brush maker who had spent eight years in training.

The addition of a metal ferrule, as a band to strengthen the handle, led to the creation of modern flat brushes.

Related: Types of Wood Stain | White Paint Color Options | Green Paint Color Options | Beige Paint Color Options

Uses of Paint Brushes

Household Brush

Household Brush

If you are working on large-scale painting projects around the home, such as painting walls, furniture, the ceiling, trim, or banister, then you need to make sure you choose a paint brush designed for the purpose.

Unlike art paint brushes, which tend to be small and intended for working with certain types of paints and canvases,  household brushes are much larger and designed to handle larger volumes of paint.

When choosing a paint brush for your project, you need to consider the size of the brush and project, the surface you will be painting on, and what kind of paint you are going to use.

Art Brush

Different types of an artist's paintbrush.

Art, or craft brushes, are much smaller and have different shapes to their bristles. While the brushes are ideal for painting with oil, acrylic, and watercolor paints, they are not a great choice for applying a lot of paint to your walls or other home improvement projects.

They come in a variety of sizes and styles, just as household paint brushes do, but they have a very different purpose and are not what you need to reach for when completing home improvement projects around the home.

Types of Paint Brushes

Angled Sash

Angled Sash

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This type of brush is often referred to as a “cutting brush,” as they are commonly used to “cut in” around your walls and other architectural designs when painting.

The bristles on these brushes have been cut at a slant, which makes it significantly easier to make sure that you have nice, clean lines when you are painting.

They are great for use on anything that has grooves that you need to get into, such as doors with panels, furniture, and cabinet fronts. They are also ideal for getting into small spaces, such as painting between window or door trim and the wall.


Wall paintbrush

Wall brushes are generally very large and have a flat and square end, as opposed to bristles that have been cut into an angle. They come in many different sizes so that you can easily choose one that will meet your needs, no matter whether you are painting paneling, doors or walls.

Sizes of three inches, four inches, and six inches sizes, are the most popular. One benefit of wall brushes is that they are available with a variety of different types of bristles, enabling you to choose the brush that will be best for your project and the type of paint you have chosen.


Finishing paintbrush

When you want a completely smooth surface that can withstand scrutiny without looking messy or streaky, then you will require a finishing brush for the job.

These brushes have bristles that are much softer than normal and are often made out of ox hair. They are a great choice for painting things such as finials on your banister, which everyone will be looking at each time they go up and down the stairs, or your kitchen cabinet doors.

Round Sash

Round sash paintbrush

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These brushes have a very blunt end that is highly tapered with soft edges. This type of paint brush is great for covering large areas on your wall or other painting projects, and they work well when you need a lot of control over your paint and where you place it.

They are ideal if you are going to be working with a decorative or faux finish. They are generally much smaller than other types of paint brushes and are typically available from 20 to 40 mm. In addition, these brushes are also  useful when working on small trim, such as window muntins.

Flagged Bristle

Flagged bristle paintbrush

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Most square-cut brushes have bristles that are also cut in a square shape. While this is great for many purposes, these bristles don’t do a wonderful job of holding a lot of paint.

If you want to make sure that you have a lot of surface area on your bristles you need to choose a brush that has flagged bristles.

The bristles are going to be split at the end and will be visibly fuzzy. Thanks to the split end, not only can you pick up more paint with these brushes, but the paint will be released very smoothly, which will allow you to create a smooth and clean finish.


Trim paintbrush used to clean a computer keyboard.

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Trim brushes have very short handles that allow for complete control over the brush. The smaller size of these brushes increases the control the user has, making it much easier to maneuver them in smaller spaces.

They can be used anywhere that requires an angled sash brush, but due to the smaller size and the way that the handle is designed, you are likely to have much better control and will be able to complete the job a lot faster when you use a trim brush.


Foam paintbrush

While foam brushes aren’t used with every painting job that you are going to complete in your home, they are ideal in certain situations and will make some jobs a lot easier and faster. Foam brushes are specifically designed to be able to hold a lot of urethane, stain and paint.

They produce a very smooth finish on your final project, as long as you are careful not to leave behind a lot of air bubbles in the product you are working with. Due to their low cost, they are inexpensive enough to throw away when the job is done.

Foam brushes are great for use on trim, cabinetry, and furniture, although you won’t see them used very often for larger spaces, such as painting a wall.


A set of stencil paintbrushes

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If you are going to be doing any stencil work on your walls, then you need to make sure that you have the right brush for the job. Stencil brushes are very different than other types of paint brushes that you can use for major painting projects.

They are round and have a lot of bristles packed very tightly together. The bristles are all the same length, which will allow the user to press paint against the wall and the stencil without worrying about the bristles lifting the side of the stencil and causing a mess.


Natural Bristle

Paintbrush with natural bristles.

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When painting with latex or acrylic paint, it’s important to reach for a brush with natural bristles. While they are more prone to breaking and being damaged than synthetic bristles are, they will provide you with a smooth finish that you can’t get with synthetic bristles.

While synthetic bristles have come a long way since being invented, they simply can’t match some of the characteristics that you find with natural bristles.

This means that when you are using oil-based paints, you need to reach for natural bristles. While some do have a water-based coating, you will want to skip these brushes. This will cause the bristles to actually absorb water.

When this happens, your bristles will be sticky and won’t hold their shape as well as they did at first, which can cause major problems when you are painting.

Synthetic Bristle

Paintbrush with synthetic bristles.

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If you are going to be painting with water-based paint, then you will want to reach for a paint brush that has synthetic filaments. These filaments are incredibly water resistant — even more so than natural bristles, which makes them the obvious choice if you are going to be using acrylic or latex paint.

These bristles are resistant to water, don’t absorb it well, and will retain their shape a lot better than natural bristles will.

It is very easy to find brushes with synthetic filaments without going over budget, which is why many people opt for them without knowing the pros and cons of the two different types of bristles. This can, of course, cause you to have major problems with your painting project if you choose the wrong type of brush to use.

Nylon Bristle

Paintbrushes with nylon bristles.

One of the most popular types of synthetic material used in brushes is nylon. These brushes are generally durable, but they should not be used on rough surfaces because they do not offer the stiffness in the filaments that other brushes do.

Additionally, since nylon is so soft and flexible, you may not feel like you have perfect control over where you are applying the paint. While nylon is durable, using it on rough surfaces for extended periods of time will cause the filaments in the brush to break.

This brush is best used on indoor applications where you will be painting semi-smooth and smooth surfaces. It’s also easy to clean after you’ve finished the job.

If you use a nylon brush in humid and hotter conditions for a long time, then you will likely have to deal with filaments that lose their shape, making it even more difficult to control the paint.

Engineered Nylon Bristle

Some companies produce synthetic brushes with engineered nylon filaments. This simply means that the filaments have been manufactured specifically so that they are stiffer than original nylon filaments.

You will be able to use your engineered nylon brush in hotter and more humid areas without the brush losing its shape. Also, harder surfaces won’t cause damage to the brush as quickly as they would if it were made of original nylon filaments.

Polyester Bristle

Paintbrushes with polyester bristles.

These are great filaments to choose if you are worried about how much water your brush is going to absorb.

Because the filaments are highly resistant to water absorption, that means that they are not going to lose their stiffness while in use, which will allow the user to maintain great control over the brush throughout the painting project.

One problem when using 100% polyester brushes is that they don’t stand up well to abrasive surfaces. This means that they can be damaged if you use a polyester brush on a very rough and highly textured surface.

Additionally, polyester brushes are known for leaving brush marks in the paint, making it difficult to get a completely smooth surface on your paint job. You can use polyester brushes with all types of paint, but it can be very difficult to get the filaments completely clean.

Use these brushes on exterior projects as long as you are only painting on semi-rough, semi-smooth, and smooth surfaces.

Nylon/Polyester Blend Bristle

Paintbrush with nylon/polyester blend bristles.

For the best of both worlds when you are choosing a synthetic paint brush, reach for one that has filaments that are both nylon and polyester.

In this way, you will enjoy a paintbrush that is stiff like polyester and will retain its shape even after long hours of use, but is still durable and soft like nylon brushes tend to be. You can use these brushes with all types of paint, and indoors or outdoors, without any problems.

Because these brushes are so stiff and durable, they are great to use on semi-rough and rough surfaces without worrying about the filaments breaking. Thanks to the softness of the nylon, you can also use these brushes on smooth surfaces.

They are a little bit more difficult to clean, thanks to the inclusion of polyester in them, but because they are a great brush to use in so many different situations, they are a good choice to have on hand when you are going to be doing a lot of painting.

Black China Bristle

Paintbrush with Black China bristles.

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Black China Bristle is a natural paint brush created from hog hairs. These brushes are great for use with almost any kind of paint, making them a popular choice to have on hand. They can be used with all solvent, alcohol, and oil-based paints and stains.

Because the bristles are a little bit coarser than bristles on other natural paint brushes, they are a great option if you are going to be painting on rough or semi-rough surfaces, as they can stand up without breaking or having the bristles worn down and bent out of shape.

Due to their coarse nature, it can be a little difficult to get a perfectly smooth paint finish when using these brushes on smooth surfaces.

Ox Hair Bristle

Paintbrush with ox hair bristles.

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The bristles used for these brushes are actually taken from oxen ears. They are incredibly soft, and the individual bristles all come to a fine point rather than having flagged ends the way that hog hair bristles do.

You are able to find brushes that have both ox and hog hair bristles combined, as this ensures that the brush is more durable and can hold more paint than one made only out of ox hair could.

By blending the two types of bristles used, it’s easy to combine the best of the two types into a paintbrush. Blended brushes are great for use on smooth surfaces, as the ox hair included in the brush will keep the paint nice and smooth.

More expensive than most types of natural brushes they create a superior finish and are great for use with brushing lacquers, varnishes, enamels, and polyurethanes. 

White China Bristle Bristle

Paintbrush with White China bristles.

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White China bristles that are made from hog hairs, but the hairs used are much softer than those found in Black China bristle brushes.

They are great for use with solvent and oil-based paints and are a perfect choice if you want to make sure that you will have a smooth finish.

They are ideal for both interior and exterior painting jobs, and, while the tips of the bristles are flagged just like on the Black China bristle brushes, the tips are much more delicate, which will allow you to produce a smooth and unmarred finish surface on your painting project.

Paint Brush Sizes

One Inch

1" size paintbrushes

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These small brushes aren’t ideal for covering a lot of space in a short amount of time, but they will give you control when you are painting. 

Look for a long handle that keeps the profile of the brush narrow so that you can slip it into smaller areas and choose a handle that is comfortable for you to hold.

Two Inch

2" size paintbrush

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When you are shopping for a two-inch brush, make sure that you look for one with softer tips.

While harder bristles will ensure that your brush lasts for a long time, the increase in bristle stiffness can cause you to leave behind small imperfections, which won’t happen with the softer option.

Three Inch

3" size paintbrush

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While you can’t cover as much area with this brush, as opposed to the four-inch brush, this is a great choice for cutting in and making a large dent in the amount of area that you will have to paint.

Make sure that when you choose a three-inch brush, you look for one that has uniform bristles that are firmly attached to the brush so you don’t have to worry about them coming out in your paint.

Four Inch

4" size paintbrush

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While most people prefer to use a paint roller instead of a paintbrush when they need to cover large areas, this large brush greatly will reduce the amount of time that it takes to cover a large area while still giving you the control and finish that you want.

Look for a brush that has a very sturdy handle that is comfortable to hold, as you are going to be moving a lot of weight between the brush and the paint that you are applying, and you don’t want your hand to get tired or sore.


Paint Brush Set

A set of paintbrushes

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If you are just getting started completing your own painting projects, then you will not have all of the brushes that you need right away.

It can be very daunting to go to the store and buy individual brushes, which is why it’s such a good idea to consider buying your paint brushes in a set when you are getting started.

While you will want to upgrade your brushes to nicer ones eventually, this is a wonderful way to make sure that you have a variety of sizes and styles to choose from.

Top Brands


3" Purdy 144152330 XL Glide Angled Sash Paint Brush, Tynex Orel

Source: Amazon

Paintbrushes by Purdy come in a variety of sizes, and many options feature bristles crafted from a nylon and polyester blend that makes it easy to tackle both indoor and outdoor paint jobs. The XL from Purdy is specially made for latex and oil-based paint, stain, and primers.

The brand’s special tipping and flagging manufacturing method ensure that your paint goes on smoothly and fully with every stroke. These brushes come with wax-covered packaging that’s great for storage. The wax also helps to prevent mold growth to extend the life of your brushes.

The XL is three inches wide for excellent coverage, but Purdy makes a variety of other sizes, too. A wood handle is durable and comfortable to hold to make every paint job large or small pleasant and easy.

You can find these brushes on Amazon and in many home improvement stores, the brand also offers multi-packs with brushes in different sizes to help you handle a variety of projects throughout the home.


Wooster Brush Q3211-2 Shortcut Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-Inch, White

Source: Amazon

Try the short-handled angle sash brush by Wooster to get a smooth, perfect edge between the ceiling and the wall. This unique paintbrush is also great for painting where two different colors meet to ensure a clean line.

Made of synthetic polyester, the bristles will easily work with all paint types but are particularly great for latex acrylic and water-based wood stain. The comfortable handle is easy to hold onto and gives you complete control over every brush stroke.

If you need to paint tight corners and edges, then this paintbrush by Wooster is an excellent choice. This American company has been in business since 1851 making paintbrushes and other products that help consumers with all of their home improvement needs.


Richard 80833 Goose Neck Angular Paint Brush with Flexible Soft Grip Handle, 2-1/2"

Source: Amazon

If you need to reach the edges and corners without using a ladder, give the Goose Neck Angular Paint Brush by Richard a try. This unique paintbrush is bendable and extends by screwing it onto a painting pole so you can reach high walls and ceilings.

The angled design makes it much easier to cut corners without messing up, and it also works well for painting around baseboards. You won’t need to bend, crouch down, or sit on the floor with this handy brush. The bendable handle can be moved to any angle you need, and it will stay in place until you’re ready to change the angle again.

Richard’s brush bristles are made from a nylon and polyester blend that makes them flexible while also being easy to paint cut-in lines. It’s also a great brush to fill in corners or fix small errors as you paint.

The Richard brand sells a variety of brushes and tools, and you can find them at many major retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, and on the brand’s own website.

Jen Manufacturing

Jen Manufacturing Professional Foam Poly-Brushes - Disposable Set for use in Home Improvement Projects for applying Paint, Watercolor, mod Podge, Glue, Chalk Paint, Oil, and Wood Stain (12, 1")

Source: Amazon

Jen Manufacturing makes a wide range of foam brushes that are ideal for use with stains, varnishes, and urethanes. These brushes are designed to be discarded after each use. The dense foam body gives you an exceptionally smooth application for paint or stain.

The lack of bristles also means that you won’t need to worry about annoying paint (or stain) lines and incessant dripping. Check out the larger four-inch brushes from Jen Manufacturing that are big enough to absorb a decent amount of product.

This allows you to use them for a longer period of time without having to constantly dip the brush back into the paint. Check out the brand’s variety packs that offer you a good quantity of foam brushes for a decent price.

This option is ideal if you are planning to take on several projects at once, or if you have plans for new projects in the future. The brushes include sturdy wood handles for a good grip as you paint.

These versatile brushes are easy to find on and are sold individually and as multi-packs of varying quantities depending on the size and how many you need. Whether it’s a pack of six or 24, Jen Manufacturing offers a variety of options online and in some home improvement or craft stores.


Deck Stain Brush Applicator - Deck BOSS by Perdura - 7 inch Paint Brush - Stain Seal and Paint for Floor and Fence - Brush Tool for Water and Oil Based Coatings on Wood and Concrete Rough or Smooth

Source: Amazon

Try the Perdura Deck Boss if you need to handle a large staining job such as a deck, patio, or walkway. This large seven-inch-wide brush is two inches thick so it’s able to hold a lot of stain. This allows you to focus on the task at hand and spend less time dipping the brush back into your bucket or tray.

At the head of the brush is a universal thread that works with almost every paint pole. Attach it to the pole and avoid staining your deck while on your hands and knees. Its large size also makes it easier to get the job done quickly.

It’s great for covering gaps in-between boards, which means that you’ll save even more time with that massive project you’ve been putting off.

Where to Buy


The largest home and do-it-yourself retailer in the U.S., Amazon carries a lot of paintbrushes. These brushes included artist and house painting brushes made with the finest materials.

Their front-end search and filter system is a quick way to find your painting supplies. Some of the top brands available at Amazon are:

  • Purdy
  • Wooster
  • Proform
  • Mont Marte


With over 1-900 stores, Lowes will have the paint or artist brush you need. Lowes often may not have a lower price but it has top-quality products and great customer service. Among the various brush types Lowes carries are:

  • Paint brushes
  • Roller brushes
  • Mini paint rollers
  • Microfiber paint rollers
  • Artist brushes
  • Textured artist brushes


Offering top-quality paint brushes at wholesale prices online, has you covered. Whatever your painting project requires, ThePaintStore has you covered. They have brushes and painting supplies for any painting project. The painting supplies they carry include:

  • Painting brushes
  • Top paintbrush brands include Purdy, Wooster, Krylon, and Cabot.
  • Caulking guns
  • Safety devices
  • Paint products
  • Wholesale pricing on all items

Michaels Stores, Inc.

With a chain of over 1,200 stores, Michaels Stores, Inc. is one of America’s largest arts and crafts stores. They have the painting supplies for a painter to paint their masterpiece. Michaels carries only the highest quality paint brushes for artists, including:

  • Princeton Art and Brush Company
  • Royal and Langnickle
  • Artists Loft
  • Raphael
  • Royal Brush


With more than 4000 stores in the United States, Sherwin-Williams has a store close to you. Painting professionals prefer their High Production Brushes with excellent paint pick-up and release. The Sherwin-Williams paint brush guide helps you to decide what brush to use when you need help.

The Sherwin-Williams Brush Guide explains various brush types and styles, including:

  • Bristle Types – Nylon, polyester, or China bristle
  • Brush Styles – Angel sash, trim, or wall brushes
  • Brush Sizes – 1 to 2 inches, 2.5 to 3 inches, and 4 to 5 inches
  • Brush Quality – High Production Brushe brand is the best quality, next are Nylon/Polyester blend brushes, and finally, China Bristle Brushes.
  • Roller Covers ranked – 1. Nylon-Polyester covers 2. Natural hair fiber 3. Blended covers

Ace Hardware

The biggest home improvement chain in the U.S., with over 13,000 stores, is Ace Hardware. Such a large chain of stores carries a vast inventory of paintbrushes. They focus on providing high-quality brushes with a large selection of bristle types.

Ace Hardware has assistants for choosing the right paintbrush for any painting project. Their “Tips for Chosing Paint Brushes and Rollers” guide covers the following areas:

  • Correct paint brush sizes
  • Selectg flat or angled paintbrushes
  • Using Premium or Bargain brushes
  • Natural or synthetic brushes
  • Paint roller types – Woven, durable core, or thick or thin nap

Oriental Trading Company

Oriental Trading Company began in 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska, by a Japanese American. It started its business as a wholesale provider of various gifts and novelties. They became a primary supplier of novelties and gifts to the carnival industry.

After great success, Oriental Trading Company expanded into various specialized markets. These markets included providing crafts and supplies for children and adults. Their adult crafts division provided various painting supplies, including:

  • Watercolor paintbrushes
  • Foam paintbrushes
  • Easel paintbrush sets
  • Acrylic/oil paintbrushes
  • Goat hair mop brushes
  • Watercolor brushes

Paint Supply Company

Headquartered in Virginia, Paint Supply Company is a professional painters’ go-to source. They are renowned for providing professional-grade paint brushes, paint, and supplies. They ship paint-related supplies from facilities located across the United States.

Paint Supply Company ships professional-grade painting products. These products include paint brushes at a competitive, professional price. Since their clientele is often painting professionals, they focus on excellent customer service. Among the quality professional paint brushes sold are:

  • Stainless steel and brass bristle mini brushes
  • Polyester angle sash paint brush
  • Bent radiator paint brush
  • Watercolor Red Sable pointed artist paint brush
  • Camel hair lacquer artist paint brush
  • Yachtsmen White China varnish paint brush

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