Brushes for acrylic trim paint
This is the second Ron Taylor article on best brushes. Brushes for acrylic trim paint has got to be the most difficult of articles because of the finish expected by customers and painters alike.
Which brush for which paint?
Also, the question of angled or straight cut brushes is not the issue here, I am talking the filament in the brushes at your disposal.
I know that mentioning brush names will complicate the read, but it is the easiest way to get filament types straight in your mind. There is a certain amount of personal choice when recommending brushes, but there are a few rules or qualities to bear in mind, when picking a brush.
Acrylic trim paint needs some help
Acrylic paint doesn’t perform like oil-based products. It won’t level or flow out as well and is prone to brush and lap marks in inexperienced hands. This is where a painter’s knowledge of products, and skill with the brush will set them apart from others.
Water-based paint dries fast and it’s easy to spoil a peice of trim by overworking thick paint that has started to set. Hot weather and heating systems won’t help this problem either, but additives will combat the effects of heat by slowing down the drying process.
Conditioners are by no means foolproof though, and care still needs to be taken. Apply paint systematically. For instance, paint the face of a door frame in one run then paint the side. That way you won’t get paint setting, whilst you are trying to bring both faces down at the same time. You could do it with oil, you can’t do it with acrylic.
Filament choice for acrylic paint is important
Acrylic trim paint is highly brush dependent, if you want the best finish. Any old synthetic brush won’t do. And if you intend to use a natural bristle brush, you may want to step away from the screen now.
For pure acrylic paint, usually conditioned with XIM Latex Extender, I have many brushes. And each one is more suited to a certain type of paint more so than another.
Favourites are Corona Tynex/Orel, Proform Picasso and Wooster Alpha. Others I use on occasion are Wooster Silver Tip, Purdy XL and Purdy Elite. I have a suspicion this may change soon, though, with even more interesting developments in the brush market.
Corona Tynex / Orel – my best finish brush for acrylic paint on woodwork
It isn’t the easiest brush to clean out once the paint has started to dry, but you can’t have it all. This brush is a must-have choice for a quick-drying, thin product like Mythic Semi-Gloss and High Gloss. This product needs to be put on and not messed about with, and the Corona does a great job of getting it on smoothly. There isn’t an acrylic paint yet, with the exception of hybrids, that it hasn’t performed well in.
My next best brushes for painting acrylic
If you are looking for speed of application with acrylic, and a really nice finish, go for the * Proform Picasso or the Wooster Alpha. The finish is almost as good, (though definitely not as good) as the Corona, but the paint seems to flow out of these brushes faster.
Both the Picasso and Alpha will leave good cut lines and good finishes in all but the fussiest of paints.
Wooster Silver Tip all round brush for acrylic woodwork
Wooster’s * Silver Tip is a good budget brush that performs well with most paints.
The bristles are soft and springy and leave a lot less brushmarks than a lot of standard makes. It is a pure polyester brush though, so it may be harder to clean and will wear faster than blended filament brushes.
Best brushes for applying acrylic paint outside
Purdy’s XL and Elite lines I tend to use mainly for exterior work. The angled 2.5″ Elite Glide is a good workhorse giving good paint application and cut lines.
The XL used to be my mainstay brush years ago, and on looks alone would win the group, but I’ve found newer stock seems to have rougher bristle tips and this doesn’t suit a lot of acrylics.
Now we can touch on best brushes for hybrid paints
Hybrid paints aka hybrids or water-borne or oil suspended in water… not acrylic, not oil…
For hybrid paints it’s a choice of pure chinex brushes like the Corona Chinex and * Wooster Chinex FTP. This bristle type will push through these heavy bodied products with ease. The stiffness of chinex isn’t an issue regarding brushmarks, as this type of paint has a longer open time due to the oil content. So, get your technique right, hybrids by their nature will level better than standard acrylic paint.
Watch out for the downsides of alkyd hybrids
Hybrids leave a very smooth finish, Johnstone’s Aqua is barely different from oil gloss. But hybrids do yellow, all be it slowly, over time, due to the oil content.
Also brushes won’t wash out completely with water, they will probably need rinsing in white spirit as well. The constant switching between water/detergent and white spirit will begin to take it’s toll on the brush as you will tend to start sealing paint near the stock, and it will become ever more difficult to wash out completely of anything. Using these products will drastically reduce the life of synthetic brushes, so it’s something to be aware of.
Whilst there are a lot of brushes on the market, you can distil your choices as follows:
Tynex / Orel (soft fine bristles) for acrylic fine finishing – Corona Cody is an outstanding example;
Picasso and Alpha for almost as fine a finish as a Cody, and faster application of acrylic;
Purdy or slightly stiffer synthetic bristle brushes for painting acrylic on exteriors.
Chinex bristle for heavier body paints and oil.
Natural bristle still does the business in oil.
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