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Best brush for DIY painters

Listed under Blog, brushes, cleaning, mypaintbrush.co.uk, Wooster Posted Nov 11 2012

For DIY painters looking for best brush, it can be a confusing time. Bottom line, no single brush is best in all paint – there are hundreds of brushes on the market, all with some merit, so it can be a bewildering time searching for brushes that are good quality and suited to your task at hand.

So to keep it really simple, these brushes are suitable for keen DIY decorators.


These are not the sort of brushes you will find at B&Q, though. Rest assured, even the “worst” one is good for high end trade quality use, and will give home decorators a really good shot at achieving a finish to be proud of.

Best DIY brushes for water based paint

2.5″ Wooster Silver Tip is top class for water based paint for ceilings, walls & woodwork

It will cut lovely emulsion lines AND is top of the trade quality tree for acrylic paint finishes on woodwork. There is no learning curve, so pick it up, use it, enjoy.

None to concern a DIY painter. (Trade will say it is great, except it does not have the capacity of a Picasso when painting ceilings and walls!)

Picasso is unreservedly the best trade quality brush for water based wall and ceiling paint

Painting straight lines fast in emulsion, there is no brush to touch this for its combined paint capacity and accuracy. For emulsioning coving you can paint very fast and achieve a lovely finish too. With care and attention, it will also create a lovely finish on acrylic woodwork paint.

For DIY (and trade) I would say that there is a learning curve to get the most out of a Picasso. You have to really load it up with way more paint than you think is right, and you can press way harder than you think is possible and still keep a straight line. (For serious trade users, these are minor cons by the way!)

2″ or 2.5″ Wooster FTP for Annie Sloan chalk paint and emulsion

The FTP is outstanding for chalk paint and heavy-bodied water-based paint. It paints very long straight lines in standard emulsion too.

For chalk paint there are no cons with this brush. The handles are a bit chunky for small hands.

Best DIY brushes for oil based paint

1.5″ or 2″ Wooster Alpha

If you apply paint to flat areas with a dense black foam roller and lay off lightly with the Alpha, you won’t be disappointed.

Whilst the finish is very smooth, on large areas, the trade would say that it is a little bit too soft to boss oil paint around ie hard work compared to other oil paint brushes.

2″ or 2.5″ Wooster FTP

Outstanding for conventional brushing with oil paint (ie without a roller)



In oil, I wouldn’t recommend it – it is good but not a top performer and you can do better with any of the above.

Popular trade brushes for oil paint that DIY might consider

Wooster and Proform are not mainstream products. I think they do trump the better known trade perennials, but the following two perennials are in general use or known by most tradesmen; they are available off the shelf at main decorator merchants, and would leave an excellent result in oil paint.

Purdy Monarch Elite – the “original” synthetic brush for oil paint, I think it is good, I used them for the longest time. The finish is on a par with Wooster brushes, but I find the Alpha is a much better balanced brush to hold.

Hamilton Perfection – if you have an older worn-in HP, yes, it will be as nice a brush as you can get for oil paint, but to wear a new one in to that perfect state is a waste of time for DIY (and not something I sign up to these days either!).


There are hundreds of paint brushes around, there is no such thing as one brilliant brush for all scenarios, although the Wooster Silver Tip and Wooster FTP are close.

If you want to get into the arcane nitty gritty of brushes, we do that on Traditional Painter, see best paint brush but for DIY especially, the limited choice above will serve you really really well.

Trade would rate the brushes differently, but I am looking at this from the DIY’er angle.

Paint brush care

Make sure you have a pot of Krudkutter Original close by too for cleaning water based paint out of brushes. And a litre of Owatrol for thinning / conditioning your oil paint and Floetrol the same for water based paint.

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2 comments to “Best brush for DIY painters”

  1. Charles Budd

    I agree with almost all of the above. If I had to recommend a ‘use it in anything’ brush for DIY use it would have to be the FTPs. They work in heavy water-based or oil-based paints, such as Mythic Eggshell or Little Green oil-based Eggshell, they are fine with any emulsions I’ve tried them in, and fine for lighter paints for woodwork such as Farrow & Ball eggshells. Yes the Picasso is great for doing a lot of cutting in with standard emulsions, once it’s well-loaded up, and yes, I’ve found the Silver-tip gives a lovely finish with lighter acrylics/latex paints, but the FTP has always done very well with anything I’ve thrown at it – including Annie Sloan Chalk paints. I tried small, angled Picassos in oil-based paints and they deformed and I had to throw them away. But my big Picasso is a joy to use with light to medium emulsions.

  2. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    FTP is a top brush for sure, Charlie. Good to hear your perspective, thanks

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