A guide to choosing the right paint brush

Share Article

Choose your project from the options below, and see our guide for the best brush(es) to use. All pictures below are courtesy of Facebook pages for the paint used, and link through to each contributor's picture for credit.

In general terms, a natural bristle brush will swell with water-based paints and not give such a smooth finish. Mixed bristle brushes can be ideal for general use and oil-based paints. For a really smooth interior paint finish synthetic brushes are great where water-based paints are used. 

Exterior projects

Paint used: Ronseal

Painting your fence/shed

You will be covering a fairly large area of rough wood when you paint wooden fencing or a garden shed. You'll probably want to get the job done as quickly as possible.

For this you need a paint brush with a lot of bristles in it, which will hold more paint per dip. This is why there are specialist 'block' brushes, or bigger, wider paint brushes for the job.

Search for 'shed and fence' products

Product used: Cuprinol

Staining decking

Decking products can be water or oil based, and this will affect what type of brush you need.

  • Pure bristle paint brushes can be used with oil or solvent based paints
  • Synthetic paint brushes are great for water based paints

Again, you have a large area to cover so the larger the brush the quicker the job. You may also want to consider a brush that can be put on a handle so you have less stooping down to do. 

Search for 'decking' products

Paint used: Sandtex

Painting masonry

With a large area to cover, you will be wanting a brush that holds a good quantity of paint. Whether you are contemplating the whole house, a part rendered area, or even refreshing areas of wall that have perhaps discoloured over winter, block paint brushes and specific masonry brushes are ideal. 

Special masonry paint brushes have different length bristles enabling you to get paint into the cracks and textured areas more easily.

Search for 'masonry' products

Paint used: Johnstone's

Refreshing garden furniture

For this, your project will definitely dictate the paint brushes you need. You may be using water-based paint, or oil based. You may have a large surface area, or small fiddly areas demanding a shaped brush.  A paint brush set like the ones available from Prodec will give you the selection you need for every eventuality. 

Search for 'ProDec brush sets'

Paint used: RustOleum

Painting metal railings/gates/furniture

What better way to have an instant refresh in your garden than painting metal garden furniture, railings, gates or even a metal swing frame for the kids.  A bristle brush is probably best, although it will depend on the paint you use, and a smaller angled brush or sash brush will be great for accessing tricky areas. 

Great tips for painting outside metalwork


Paint used: Ronseal

Upcycling garden ornaments/pots and other smaller projects

Use a synthetic paint brush for water based exterior paints for projects such as painting plant pots or upcycling an old potting station. A 2" or 3" brush will be the most suitable.

Search all brushes and painting tools


Interior projects

Paint used: Ronseal

Painting woodwork

There are a number of paint brush types you may want depending on the nature of your project.  For intricate projects like window and door frames you will want a smaller angled brush or sash brush for accessing tricky areas. The larger the project the more you can go up in brush size for speed. And again:

  • Pure bristle brushes can be used with oil or solvent based paints
  • Synthetic brushes are great for water based paints

Search for interior paint for wood

Product used: Osmo

Oil or varnish flooring

You are unlikely to have a floor quite as big as in this picture, but you will want a large brush for the job. Use a pure bristle paint brush as you will most likely be using an oil/solvent based product. 

Shop for Woodcare Brush kit

Paint used: Dulux

Paint walls and ceilings

Generally speaking, most wall and ceiling paints will be water-based and therefore you would probably choose a synthetic brush. You will almost certainly want a smaller paint brush for painting your edges. Whilst some might like to use a roller for the main part of the wall/ceiling, you can also use large wall brushes for the job as you won't get paint splatter with this choice.
Use masking tape, separating areas, to create the effect shown here.

Look for all brush choices and kits

Paint used: Johnstone's

Revive tiles and cupboards

With a number of speciality tile and cupboard paints on the market, and multi surface paints up to the task too, you will need to check the paint you have chosen for brush suitability:

  • Pure bristle brushes can be used with oil or solvent based paints
  • Synthetic brushes are great for water based paints

Generally you will want a large paint brush or roller for the main surface and a smaller angled brush for edging. You could try a multi brush set giving you a choice depending on what works best for you.

Shop for paint brush sets

Paint used: RustOleum

Upcycle furniture

There is a wealth of great ideas online for upcycling old furniture - like this one from RustOleum. It's easy to create stripes with masking tape and a 1"  or 2" paint brush or sash brush. Alternate two paint colours and voila - an old piece now has character and pizazz!

Shop for all brush choices and kits



This is where it all started for Colour Supplies - as a paint and decorating specialist store. We have expanded our ranges since then and you will find a wealth of paints, decorating sundries and more in each of our Home & Garden stores in Oswestry, Whitchurch and Wrexham, as well as the products you can link through to on this page for buying online.

You'll find our store staff helpful and able to offer advice should you need it. Why not pop by for a visit?


Related Articles

Splashpanel & Showerwall

Designed for walls, these panel options offer a stylish and cost effective alternative to tiles in your bathroom or shower room.

Paper, Panels and Pictures - 3 Ways With Wallpaper

Read on for our tips of 3 ways to enjoy some of the latest wallpaper designs without taking up your whole room, and find out what the wallpaper trends are for 2022.