Your Guide to Buying Paint Brushes

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A fresh coat of paint can be so rejuvenating that the phrase has come to be synonymous with breathing new life into virtually anything. However, a literal fresh coat of paint can be an affordable and simple way to revitalize anything from a piece of furniture to an entire house; it does not even take any special skills to be an effective painter. But it goes without saying that painting a house requires very different tools than painting a portrait does, which is why it is important to learn the difference between the types of paint brushes that are available on the market. From large paint brushes that can coat a wall quickly to much more delicate oil painting brushes that can be used for fine detail work, the right type of paint brush can make any project easier and more efficient. Different types of paint brushes are available for purchase from different retailers including home improvement stores, art supply stores, and online from eBay.

Home Improvement Paint Brushes

Applying paint, whether to the exterior of a house, to brighten up a room, or even to varnish a floor, is a fairly simple and affordable home improvement project. This is why many home improvement enthusiasts may start with painting before delving into more difficult projects. But even painting can be made easier by choosing the right equipment, beginning with the right paint brushes.

Paint Brush Sizes

Anyone that has ever visited a home improvement store knows that there are many different sizes of paint brushes available. Each paint brush size is appropriate for different size jobs. In general, the largest paint brush available is 4 inches across. A 4- inch paint brush is best for large jobs such as walls or floors. The smallest size generally available is 1 inch wide and can be helpful for home improvement jobs that require more detail, such as edges, trim, or molding. Between 1 and 4 inches are paint brushes that can be useful for jobs that have needs in between those mentioned. Having a wide array of paint brushes available is always a good idea in case the need arises for a different size in the course of a project.

Paint Brush Bristles

Since the bristles are the part of the paint brush that actually applies paint to a surface, it is important to pay close attention to them when choosing which paintbrush to purchase. Some lower cost paint brushes may have low-quality bristles that will leave trails and marks in the paint and not lead to a high quality finished product.

The most effective paint brush bristles are tapered at the ends, which makes it easier to create a smooth surface when painting. It may also be useful to look for bristles that are flagged, or split, on the ends. Because of the added surface area, these split bristles can absorb more paint and make painting jobs more efficient; these split bristles also create a smoother finish overall. Finally, choosing a paint brush with bristles that are solid rather than hollow can make a big difference in a painting job. Hollow bristles are much easier to bend, and bent bristles lead to bristle marks in the end.

Paint Brush Bristle Material

While the shape and construction of paint brush bristles are important, it is also quite necessary to know from what the bristles of a paint brush are made. Different types of material respond differently to specific paints so choosing the right material for your job will make it go much easier. The following table outlines which materials are most appropriate for certain types of paint.

Type of Paint

Ox Hair



Black or White China

Oil-based Paint




Water-based Paint



Lacquer or Shellac




Clearly the natural paint brushes, ox hair and black or white China brushes, are better for applying oil-based paints. However, these types of paint brushes can be a bit more expensive. Depending on the project and how much importance the painter places on eliminating visible brush strokes, polyester brushes can be a more cost effective choice.

Artist Paint Brushes

Of course, home improvement projects are not the only use people have for paint brushes. Those with artistic ambitions, from the most highly trained to the amateur dabbler, may need to purchase paint brushes for any variety of art project. Artist paint brushes are constructed differently than home improvement paint brushes, but some of the same factors come into play when choosing which ones to purchase.

Oil Paint Brushes

The best oil painting brushes are those that are made with natural fibers. The two most common types of these fibers are sable and bristle, which are from two different types of animals. Bristle paint brushes are generally considered better for painting large areas of canvas while sable paint brushes make fine, detail work easier. More recently, brushes have been developed that imitate the properties of these natural fibers, but are actually synthetic. These brushes may be made from nylon, polyester, or the hairs of other types of animals such as horses or mongoose. While the natural fibers are the best choice, the synthetic option is generally more affordable.

Acrylic Paint Brushes

Acrylic painting requires a different type of paintbrush than oil painting does. When painting with acrylics, the brush is often left to sit in water for long periods of time. This can be damaging to more delicate sable and bristle brushes. For this reason, many painters working with acrylics choose to use the less expensive brushes that are made from nylon or other synthetic material. Acrylic paints can be successfully used with either stiff or soft brushes, depending on the ultimate goal of the artist. Soft brushes provide smoother finishes and stiffer brushes allow more brushstrokes to be seen, thereby adding texture to a painting.

Artist Paint Brush Shapes

Paint brushes for art also come in a variety of shapes. The different shapes of the brushes allow artists to make different shapes on their canvas or other medium of their choosing.



Best Used For


Rectangular with a blunt end

Broad, narrow, and triangular strokes


Rectangular with a rounded end

Oval or crescent strokes


Same as Flat, but with shorter hairs

For visible, textured brush strokes


Small and round

Detail work and lines


Like Flat but larger


Depending on the style of a painting and of the painter, multiple styles of brushes may be useful in the course of any one piece. This is why it is best to have an array at your disposal when beginning any project.

Paint Brush Sets

Some artists may find it helpful and cost effective to invest in a paint brush set, rather than buy each paint brush piecemeal. It is not only possible to purchase a paint brush set that includes different shapes that are, for instance, appropriate for oil painting, but paint brush sets are widely available that include brushes for oil painting, acrylic work, and watercolor together. These sets can be useful for an artist who is looking to explore different mediums or for an art class or other educational venture. Usually, these sets are more affordable than buying each brush individually, although that is not always the case so careful price comparison may help you to stay within your budget while maximizing the types of brushes you have available.

How to Buy Paint Brushes on eBay

Buying paint brushes on eBay makes it easy to compare different types of brushes at all different price points. Paint brushes for both artistic endeavors as well as home improvement projects are available from thousands of sellers on eBay every day.

In order to find the type of paint brushes you are looking for, you may begin with a simple search from the homepage. This is especially useful if you know the brand, size, and type of paint brush that you will need. If you are shopping around and would prefer to browse those paint brushes that are available, eBay makes that easy to do with a general search, as well.

If you are looking for artist paint brushes, navigate to the Home, Outdoors & Decor portal from the homepage, and then select Crafts. From there you can choose Art Supplies, Painting, then Brushes, Palettes & Knives, which will let you see all of those supplies that are available. You can easily sort by price to find those brushes that fit within your budget.

When buying art supplies, you will want to be sure you know what you are getting before agreeing to the purchase. Since there may be artists who are selling brushes that did not work for them, you may want to ask the seller if the brushes are brand new, which is easy to do using the eBay interface. A good seller should get back to you quickly with the information you need so that you can make your purchase with peace of mind.


Even though painting the house or a piece of furniture may seem like a chore, it is easy to turn it into an artistic endeavor. Refreshing your home can be a wonderful way to feel more comfortable in your environment. By employing the right paint brushes in home improvement endeavors, those projects can go more quickly and ultimately be more rewarding. Whether a large paintbrush is necessary to cover the entirety of a house or small, detail brushes are needed to get into those tricky corners, the right tool makes the task at hand easier. The same is true of painting for the sake of art. From the most seasoned talents to the freshest beginner, starting a painting with all the right supplies can be just the motivation to get that piece finished. Whether the final product will hang on the wall in a museum or simply over the sofa does not matter, because anything is possible with a blank canvas and the right tools.

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