Buy Quality Paintbrushes – Renovating Lessons

Doing a big renovation is One Big Life Lesson [insert cheesy analogy here].

No, not really.

But when you do, you learn. And since we did pick up some usefull lessons (and I think we will get more lessons as we get on) I figured I’d share them with you guys.

These might not all be Life Changing Pro Tips. But if you are a noob (like me) then these might be just the thing for you.

This is one of the more lighthearted lessons. But one that is so important it is the first lessen I just have to share.

Don’t buy crappy, cheap brushes. Ever.

Sometimes I still wonder why I fall for the cheap value packs every single time I need to paint something. But I just can’t resist.

But trust me when I tell you, everything will be so much better with better brushes.

The stupid thing is: I knew this!

  • I have good brushes (my favorite brand is Real Techniques) to apply my make-up.
  • I have a nice collection of fancy brushes to do my acrylic/watercolor painting.

So why did it take me so long to accept the fact you need to invest in proper brushes for some DIY painting projects?!

If you hate loose hairs in your paint, streaky finishes and just an overal pain-in-the-ass-experience. Buy a better brush! Even one good brush outweighs ten crappy ones.

What to look for in a brush

There are tons of brushes and brands to choose from and even more ways to use them.

I probably use my brushes in the wrong way every now and then, so don’t judge… But I do believe I have some helpful tips in picking your brushes.

Size of the handle

I have short fingers. My longest finger is shorter than the length of my palm and my thumbs are about half the size of ‘normally proportioned humans’.

So size is a thing for me.

And size matters!

Wielding a brush that is to big put too much strain on my hands. So your will never see me using a block brush, because I just can’t handle it properly.

Also; think about the length of the handle. If you prefer to paint very tightly and straight to the surface your hand should feel comfortable on the handle right above the brush.

If you prefer long and flowy strokes (for a mural or so), you need a longer handle so you can move your hand higher. This way you can reach a wider area without moving your hand.

For stamping/scrubbing motions (like when waxing a cabinet or applying a stencil) you presumably hold your brush very differently. You need to have more force behind your strokes for these actions and therefore you are more comfortable with a broader handle compared to a slim handle.

Tip: always hold the brush in different ways and move your wrist to see if the handle fits your hand comfortably.

Size and shape of the brush

Obviously you need to consider the proper size for your brushes. Painting a large surface with a pencil brush will most likely not be a very enoyable experience.

The same goes for small surfaces with big brushes.

But that is not my tip.

When you get the chance, find out what brush size you prefer.

For instance in the Netherlands most painters use a round brush for all the doors and windows (plus the frames). But I just dislike painting with round brushes.

Sure, I could learn a proper technique or just practice more. But I just pick a nice flat brush to paint these objects.

My main reason for disliking round brushes are that I can’t form the hairs in into a straight edge, I can’t see what I’m painting and I feel like I have less controle over the amount of paint.

This is personal, but since giving up on round brushes my painting has improved.

Don’t get hung up on what brushes you ‘need to use’, but find what works for you and why.

Another tip is to just experiment. I for instance have never used an angular cut brush, but I bought one anyway because I think it may be the solution for a painting issue I ran into.

So I bought it. Just to see if this might work for me. Maybe I’ll enjoy it a lot, maybe not. But if I don’t try I’ll never know.


In pictures you can immediately see differences in type of hairs. And maybe this is comparing apples with pears (it’s a Dutch saying. We like comparing to pears more than to oranges haha).

And maybe it’s slightly weird you can talk passionately about brush hairs, but here I go:

I touch brushes. Stroking the hairs from the shaft to the tips. I run my finger across gently multiple times to see if any hairs are stray or feel off. I prefer super smooth straight hairs.

paint brush with poor quality
See how the hairs are pointing in different directions? Also the cut is not very straigt and you can already tell this will not feel soft to touch.

Shop owners may dislike this (sorry), but when nobody is looking I lightly yank at some plucks of hair. Just to see if any hairs are loose. If if looks like I petted a dog or cat, the brush is crap.

You want no loose hairs. Especially not when they are brand new!

(But pro-tip: run your brush over some sand paper to easily remove loose hairs before use.)

And then the hair ends. This is extremely important to me!

I lightly tap the blunt edge of the brush with my flat hand.

If it feels like I just tapped a hedgehog it’s no good.

Baby bunnies.

That is what I want to feel when I feel a brush tip.

That is why I personally prefer synthetic brushes (which are not made of actual bunnies or other cute animals). They are usually super smooth.

My current brushes

From left to right:

  1. This is my most beloved brush and I have multiple in this size. It’s made by Anza and has synthetic hairs that feel super soft. I love these because the handle fits my hand nicely and I feel like I have a lot of control with this doing broad strokes and smaller areas. They also wash out great.
  2. That crappy brush still has a purpose: I use it for MDF-filler and paint stripper. Any task that can either ruin a brush or ugly brush strokes don’t matter.
  3. Smaller version of the first brush. I use this for window frame details And other small areas.
  4. This is one of my newbies. I haven’t used this yet, but I intend to use it for hard to reach areas in high places. Will see how that goes…. It’s small an synthetich and although the kink in the handle will get some getting used to I think we will be friends,
  5. This angled brush I bought for the long straigt and soft hairs mostly, (Because they are so sleek, not because I have a use for it.) But since I have it I think I will start using it on window frames I think. I hope to get a better spread of the paint with these long hairs. I’m also hopeful I can work more precise because of the angle.
  6. (Not shown) I also have a round brush laying around somewhere, but haven’t used that. Don’t like round brushes like I mentioned.

All the other crappy brushes I came across I tossed, so I can’t show you those.

The paint you use

This is not really a tip, but I feel obligated to mention that with all my tips you should keep in mind if the brushes are intended for the type of paint you use.


So you get it by now. Buy nice brushes.

And maybe you think “but the paint is so expensive in itself already!”

Buy good paint anyway. And yes, that is expensive. But you need both good paint and good brushes to get a good result. Good paint with crappy brushes doesn’t work well and neither does crappy paint with good brushes.

Also, learn how to clean your paintbrushes properly and they will last longer than any poor quality brush.

Final words to remember when you go brush shopping:

Bunnies. You want baby bunnies.