The Best Paint Brush For Furniture (And What Each Shape Is For)

A quality paintbrush is as important as the paint to get the best results. Here’s how to choose the best paint brush for furniture painting.

Brushes are an essential part of kit when painting furniture. There are lots of paintbrushes out there. So how do you know which ones to choose? 

The best paint brushes depend on what you’re painting.

Different shaped paint and wax brushes

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Take a look at your project. Does it have simple flat shapes like a tabletop? Ornate carvings? 

Depending on the shape of the piece of furniture will give you an idea of what brush you should use.

But there are other factors too. Such as the best brush material for your paint type. Synthetic or natural. And whether you’re using water-based paint or oil-based paints.

This guide will help you find the best brush for furniture painting.

What are the different paintbrush shapes for?

Looking for a paintbrush but don’t know what all the shapes are for? From flat, to round, to angled and oval, there is a lot of choice. Each shape comes in different sizes too but bigger isn’t necessarily better.

So, what are they best for? And if you only buy one, what’s the perfect brush for you?

Flat Paintbrush

Flat paintbrushes are the most common type of brush. The wider the brush is, the more surface area you can cover quickly. These are a good brush for larger projects with flat surfaces.

But they aren’t as good for ornate details or narrow areas. They also work well when applying stain and varnish.

Flat shape paintbrushes

Angled Paintbrush

Angled brushes are similar to flat brushes but they have an angled edge.

They are a good choice as they have two benefits. You can use them to paint large areas or flat surfaces such as a coffee table. But the angle also allows you to cut in and paint into corners easily. 

comparison of flat and angled paintbrush
Comparison of flat and angled paintbrush

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Round Paintbrush

Round brushes are great multi-purpose brushes. They get into detailed, ornate areas and well as can work well on flat surfaces. They’re a good choice for multiple areas so could be a one-stop shop if you only want to buy one brush.

They are ideal for a paint job on chair spindles.

Round brushes are often a good choice with chalk paint. It gives good control over applying the chalk paint which gives its characteristic look. 

best paint brush for furniture - Round shape paintbrushes

Oval Paintbrush

Similar to round brushes, the oval shape is also a good all-around brush. 

The benefit of oval brushes is that you can use the end for detailed work and smaller areas. Then switch to the length of the bristles for larger surfaces. 

Oval shapes mould well to the contours of the surface better than a flat brush. The advantage of which is that you’re less likely to miss areas. 

Comparison round and oval paint brush shape
Comparison of oval and round paint brush shape

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Pointed or Tapered Brush

A pointed brush has bristles that are tapered. So they narrow until the point. This shape works well for working wax or paint into ornate areas and tight corners.

The delicate nature of the tip also works well for adding details and highlights to a finish.

Tapered end paint and wax brushes

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Detail Brush

Fine, detail brushes are ideal for precision, detail work and getting into tight spaces. Not all small brushes will do a quality job of this. 

A detail brush should have firm bristles that keep the shape. Bristles that splay out and bend easily don’t give the control you need for accurate brush placement.

best paint brush for furniture adding details with detail brush

What’s the difference between a synthetic and natural bristle type brush?

Natural Bristle Brushes

Natural bristle brushes are typically made with animal hair. Such as boar or horse hair. 

They’re often considered the best chalk paint brushes because they create fewer streaks than synthetic brushes. They also hold onto the paint on the brush well, so you don’t need to add more paint to the brush as often. 

wax brush

Not having a lot of paint on the brush is helpful with thicker paints such as chalk paint, as it can dry quickly. They also work well with Milk Paint, stain and wax.

High quality wax brushes are usually made with natural bristles due to the interesting texture that they create. However, they are often more expensive than synthetic brushes. They are also more likely to shed bristles.

But with the proper care, natural brushes can last for a very long time.

Synthetic Brushes

Synthetic bristle brushes are made with nylon or polyester bristles.

Due to the materials, they’re often cheaper than a natural bristles brush. Polyester brushes typically provide a smooth finish due to the softer bristles.

Although you will likely reload the brush more often due to the slicker nature of the bristles. Which makes it harder for the bristles to hold onto much paint.

The softer bristles of the synthetic brush are a good choice for types of paint such as mineral paints, acrylic paint and latex paint. Mineral paints are self-levelling, which reduces brush marks for the smoothest finish.

These are the best choice if you don’t like the idea of using a brush made with animal hair.

Synthetic Blend Brushes

A blend is a good middle ground for a paintbrush. This uses both natural and synthetic bristles and is a more affordable alternative with the benefits of both types.

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Can I paint furniture with a Chip Brush?

Chip brushes are a cheap, disposable option for paintbrushes. Often they’re used for one-off jobs like working with paint strippers.

They’re not a quality brush that you would expect to paint a beautiful paint finish with. But they work well if you want to add texture as they leave brush strokes.

If you need a brush for a messy job, then it could be the right tool.

Chip brushes

Other things that make a good paintbrush


The last thing is comfort. It’s one of the most important things to consider when choosing the right brush. Not all brush handles are created equal. An ergonomic handle allows for a comfortable hold while painting. 

That’s why shorter handles were created which you grip in a different way. What’s comfortable for you each person will be different. If possible, it’s a good idea to test this in person.

Hanging Straps

Brushes that have a hanging strap also add the benefit of being able to hang it up to dry easily.

It’s important to hang a brush to dry rather than laying it down. Or even worse, with the bristles pointed upwards. I explain more about that here.

If your brush doesn’t come with a strap, the best way is to add one yourself.

What’s the best paint brush for furniture?

The right paint brush depends on the type of furniture you are painting.

Assuming that you’ll be using different furniture paints on a variety of types of furniture. Ideally, you’d have a few different shapes so you can work on different parts of furniture easily.

But you can add to your collection over time.

I recommend buying a good quality brush rather than a cheaper one. They work better and last longer. It’s more cost-effective in the long run.

The most important thing is to find out what works for you.

Alternatives to the Best Brushes

Not sure you want to use a paintbrush after all? Fortunately, there are good alternatives.

Each has different benefits but is worth looking into. These include a paint sprayer, paint roller and applicator sponge.

My top picks: The best paint rollers that I’ve found are Staalmeester. They are microfibre material and is a popular choice with furniture painters. Foam rollers are also well rated.

I also like these applicator pads for applying top coats. They’re a great option for a streak-free finish.

And I have this paint sprayer. Paint sprayers work well for time-consuming projects such as painting chairs.

What is your preferred brush shape?

While the shape is important, the biggest factor for me is the quality of the brush. It helps clean up in only warm water and lasts for a long time.

Love learning about tools? This one is genius for helping fit handles! Or looking to perfect your technique? Here are 15 tips on avoiding brush strokes.

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Hi there! I'm Rachel Bowyer, a passionate DIY enthusiast with a knack for transforming the old into something beautifully new. With a deep love for furniture painting, refinishing, and the art of crafting. I've been documenting my DIY projects and restoration journey since 2018. I specialise in techniques like decoupage, stencilling, and decor transfers. Join me as we explore the world of creativity and home improvement, one project at a time.

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    1. Thanks, glad it was useful.

  1. I love to paint furniture, but I still have a lot to learn about it! Thanks for explaining the difference between brushes, this was very helpful to me! Pinning now!

    1. There’s always something to learn. It’s helpful to know where to find the information for when you need it. Thanks, Donna.

  2. Like so many things, your tools are important. I’ve tried all kinds of paint brushes, and for better projects, it requires a good paintbrush.

    1. Yes, too much wasted money on the cheap ones.

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