What Should I Know About The Different Kinds of Paint Brushes?

Jordan Paul , null

May 11th, 2022

What Should I Know About The Different Kinds of Paint Brushes?

Many of us enjoy painting, whether it’s a home or a driveway we’re refinishing. Paints let us express ourselves in a unique way while adding value and protection to our largest investment, our homes. Many of us apply paint with the same tool as our grandfathers, the paint brush. Paint brushes are designed for different paint mediums, surfaces, and applications. Today, we will briefly discuss the two most popular bristle materials and their common uses.

What Are Paint Brushes Made Of?

Paint brush bristles (the hairs that hold the paint) come in a variety of materials, ranging from completely natural, like horse hair, to entirely synthetic like polyester or nylon. The paint you are using and the project will often dictate the appropriate brush, as some bristles work better than others. With oil based paint, you might use natural hair bristles that come from a horse, hog, and badger, while synthetic bristles are made from manmade materials like polyester and nylon.

Natural bristle brushes are good for enamel paints applied to a relatively smooth surface because the bristles are often very fine. Natural hair bristles are also delicate, so it’s best to avoid rough surfaces when using them, as it will wear them prematurely. Rough surfaces can damage the tips of the natural hairs and make them rough, so it’s recommended to use synthetic brushes when using oil based paints if the surface is coarse.

When Is the Best Time to Use a Synthetic Bristle Brush?

Synthetic brushes are more commonly used than natural brushes due to their durability and cost. Synthetic brushes are often made from polyester, nylon, or both, making them very versatile. Synthetic paint brushes are entirely synthetic, so there is great flexibility in manufacturing, as well as design. Synthetic paint brushes can be molded into almost any shape for any purpose, so they work great on either smooth or rough surfaces, depending on the brush.

Synthetic brushes also have the advantage of low cost, ease of cleaning, and versatility. Synthetic brushes are usually less expensive than their natural counterparts, because there is no need to harvest either wood for the handle, nor hair for the bristles. These brushes are popular for projects that tend to damage brushes because of the low cost compared to natural bristles.

When Is the Best Time to Use a Natural Bristle Brush?

Natural bristle paint brushes are very unique because no two are exactly alike. Natural bristle paint brushes are very popular with more artistic house painting projects like furniture refinishing and border painting. Many artists prefer the feel of natural bristles and some even prefer specific animal hair over others.

Natural bristle brushes are relatively delicate unfortunately, and many have met an untimely end. Natural bristle paint brushes can be unforgiving of poor treatment, so they require proper cleaning and storage. These brushes also tend to wear out faster than synthetic brushes because the material is usually softer. However, there are plenty of thirty year old natural bristle brushes still in use, so with proper use and care, they can last for many years.

Natural bristle brushes are also commonly used to apply stains and other materials that can be altered by the painter. Stains, unlike opaque paints, are often applied using visible brush strokes for a specific effect, so many artists prefer natural bristle paint brushes for that reason. Natural bristles provide the artist with a unique tool that provides artistic freedom and expression, and most artists own dozens of different kinds. Natural bristle brushes are recommended for any oil based medium, such as varnish, shellac, and polyurethane as well.

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