How to Choose a Paintbrush

Purdy paintbrush dipped in white paint

How to Choose a Paintbrush

How to Select the Best Tool for Any Project

Starting your next project with the right applicator is paramount to a quality finished product.


Paintbrushes come in all shapes and sizes and quality roller covers are made with different materials for various applications. The paint applicator you use should be carefully chosen based on the texture of the surface you are painting, type of paint, whether you are painting indoors or outdoors and even how large the area is you are painting. Choosing the proper paintbrush or roller cover that is best suited for your project will mean a quality outcome with even application every time.

Soft Versus Stiff

Put simply, stiff filaments provide crisp lines when cutting in or painting around windows, doors and trim. They also hold thicker coatings well. Soft filaments, on the other hand, leave fewer brush marks and ultra-smooth finishes when tackling doors, furniture or trim work.

Stiffer brushes are great for thicker and Low VOC coatings.

Synthetic Filaments Versus Natural Bristles

Synthetic brushes are designed for all types of coatings, offering maximum versatility. Natural bristle brushes are designed for solvent- and oil-based coatings.

Size and Style

Angular-style brushes are also great for getting into tight corners and other hard-to-reach areas, or when painting crisp lines along trim, ceilings and baseboards.


Flat-style brushes should be used on projects that require long strokes on large continuous surfaces.

Large-size brushes cover greater surface area more efficiently when a roller cover isn’t ideal, like on fences or curved surfaces.


Short-handled brushes are ideal for painting in cramped spaces like corners, cabinets and trim. Purdy® Cub brushes, for example, feature short, lightweight alderwood handles that provide better control when doing precision work in tight spaces.

Split image showing a large brush painting wide deck boards and a small cub brush painting a narrow space between top of a window frame and a ceiling.

Surface and Texture

Paintbrushes for smooth surfaces are soft, versatile brushes, like those in the XL® lineup. Great for use both indoors and out, these brushes include medium-stiff filaments designed for latex and oil-based paints, primers and stains, are easy to clean and withstand years of use.


Or reach for one of the Purdy Clearcut® Elite™ brushes which deliver excellent paint release and superb cleanability, ideal for use with heavy-bodied and Low VOC paints, but are compatible with a variety of surface types and textures.


Rough, textured surfaces such as stucco or brickwork require a stiffer, more durable brush, such as a Purdy Pro-Extra® or Chinex® Elite™.

Split image showing a brush painting above baseboard, and a brush painting a brick wall.

Handle Style

The right handle design can help you stay comfortable and productive for the entirety of your project.

Rattail handles are long, skinny and held like a pencil.

Fluted handles are square with cut-off corners to rest easier in your hand.

Beavertail handles are thick and round to fit nicely in the palm of your hand.

Short handles are for painting in tight spots where a longer handle would get in the way.