Natural vs. Synthetic Brushes

Updated: Mar 27

UpcycledHOME-Magazine-Spring 2021-Issue 2-Vintage & Varnish-Furniture & Home Decor Refurbishing Lifestyle Magazine

Recently I received the opportunity to write an article for the Spring issue of UpcycledHOME Magazine. (This online Refurbishing Lifestyle Magazine is FREE to subscribe and will be delivered right to your inbox! - (Subscribe to UpcycledHOME Magazine) The article, "What is the BEST Paint to Use on Furniture" will be published in the next couple of weeks and I will be sharing that article with you as soon as I can, I PROMISE. In the meantime, I thought what better topic to pair with paint than helping you choose the perfect paintbrush! Choosing the right paint brush can feel overwhelming - there are so many shapes, sizes and bristle types available and many popular paint brands also sell and recommend brushes for use with their products. Knowing the difference between natural and synthetic bristle brushes can really help you to figure out where to invest for your next DIY project.

Natural Bristle Brushes

Natural bristle paint brushes are made from natural animal hair such as hog or badger.

Bristle hairs naturally split creating more surface area for picking up, holding and distributing your paint. This ability to hold more paint can help to speed up your painting process as you will not have to reload your brush as often allowing you to cover a greater surface area at a time. Bristle brushes are ideal for use with natural paints like chalk mineral, clay and milk paints. The soft flexibility of natural bristle brushes aid in the application of thin layers of paint with reduced streaks and even distribution. When using these brushes with natural paints (chalk/clay/milk-based) there is less chance of streaking than with synthetic brushes. Natural bristle brushes may shed the first few times you use them. If you have purchased a quality natural bristle brush, the bristles should stop shedding after the second or third use.

Best Uses for Natural Bristle Brush

PRO TIP: To break in a new paint brush, brush the bristles back and forth against your hand to loosen them. Slap the brush on a hard surface and then spin it between your palms (using the handle) to free any loose bristles and minimize shedding.

Synthetic Bristle Brushes


Synthetic bristles are made from materials like nylon and polyester or a combination of both. Modern synthetic paint brushes are excellent quality and typically cost much less on average than a natural bristle brush. If you look after these brushes, they’ll last you for many years. The first synthetic brush I ever purchased, a 2.5" Wooster from Home Depot, quickly became my favourite and after almost 4 years of use this brush is still in excellent condition.