Get to Know Your Paintbrushes

Baffled by bristle types? HGTV Magazine narrowed down the paintbrush aisle for you.
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Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Brushes 101

Synthetic bristles are meant for latex and other water-based paints. Natural bristles are for oil-based formulas.


Best for: Large, flat surfaces. Sold in widths of up to 5 inches, these brushes are ideal for quickly covering a big area. Find them with either natural or synthetic bristles. 3"-wide nylon/polyester professional wall brush, $15, for stores

Angled (a.k.a. Sash)

Best for: Cutting in and painting along trim. The slanted shape gives better control than a square-cut brush, so you get clean lines—key for painting along edges, like where a wall and ceiling meet. It comes in many widths, with natural or synthetic bristles. Shur-line angle paint and primer interior Hydroglide 1 1/2"-wide brush, $8, Lowe’s stores


Best for: Lacquer, shellac, and stains. This finer version of a square-cut brush has softer, denser bristles for applying stains and other finishes without streaks. It’s available with natural or synthetic bristles. Gramercy Tools 2"-wide synthetic finishing brush, $35,


Best for: Chalky paints. An oval shape combined with densely packed bristles lets this brush hold a lot of paint—a must for thick, chalky-finish formulas, which are often applied to have texture. Medium pure bristle oval brush, $39, for stores

Short Handle

Best for: Cramped spaces. With a 2-inch rubberized handle, this brush, which has natural or synthetic bristles, lets you maneuver around tight spaces, like inside cabinets. Wooster Shortcut paintbrush, from $5, available at paint supply stores


Best for: Touch-ups. Cheap and disposable, these brushes can be used with any type of paint to cover scuffs. Use them on small spots only, as the foam may leave behind a slight texture. Linzer 1"-wide, 2"-wide, and 3"-wide foam paintbrushes, $6 for a mixed set of 9,

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