Paint Brush and Roller Analysis

Paintbrush and roller analysis

Picking the right colors for your next home paint revamp project can take huge chunks of your time. However, as you pore through the myriad of shade swatches, do not forget to put the rollers and brushes you’ll use to mind. They play a fundamental role in achieving smooth, precise, and complete coverage.

For the green DIYer, we usually use rollers to apply paint on large surfaces, while brushes offer great precision and pick up less paint, and so they’re used in smaller and more detailed areas. The latter can also be used to create textured or smooth finishes depending on the technique used.

We’ll look at the various types of brushes and rollers available to help you out with your upcoming home improvement project.

How to pick out the right paintbrush

There are a lot of brushes out there. They come in different sizes, shapes, and materials; this is by design. Having a good look at the brush specs will let you in on what’s suitable for the job.


We’re talking specifically about the material used on the brush bristles. They come in two categories, namely:

  • Natural brushes

These kinds of brushes have their bristles made from animal hair, normally hogs or badgers. Their fibers have microscopic splits that are capable of holding a lot of paint, ensuring a smooth finish. These brushes are particularly useful when spreading oil-based paints. You’ll also get good results when using them to apply varnishes, topcoats, shellac, enamel, decorative chalk paint, polyurethane, and even furniture wax.

  • Synthetic brushes

The bristles on this brush are made of polyester or a nylon-polyester blend. They do a good job when paired with water-based (latex) paint. Natural bristles have the disadvantage of soaking up water, becoming flaccid, and therefore ineffective. Synthetic brushes also handle low- and no-VOC paints well. It’s worth noting that most of these non-VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are acrylic latex in nature.


Paintbrushes for residential painting range from one to six inches. The general rule of thumb is the tighter the surface you’re painting, the smaller the brush you should use.

  • 1″ to 2.5″ brush – This kind of brush is best used for window applications, corners, and trims
  • 3″ brush – Perfect for shelving, cabinets, and doors
  • 4″ to 6″ – It is a brush designed for large even areas like ceilings and walls


There is a trifecta of paintbrush styles, with each used for a given surface area and purpose. They include:

Square cut

It is usually a 4″ to 6″ brush that’s ideal for large, even surfaces and works for both exteriors and interiors. Use them for your walls, sidings, ceilings, and flat doors.

Angle sash

They were initially designed to color window sashes the kind of which fit within window frames and allow the up and down movement of panes. It is an angled and short-handed brush that works well in detailed applications and offers great maneuverability and stability. Use them for panels, corners, edges, grooves, and extending your reach around obstacles.

Round sash

They are small in nature and typically range between 20 and 40 mm. They’re used for decorative, and furniture painting as their circular bristle design is conducive for 3D painting.


While buying a brush is an exercise in researching the right specs and designs, there’s something to be said about purchasing the best brands. After all, there is a reason why certain brush-producing companies are running the industry when compared to their competitors.

Most professionals rate Purdy brushes as the first in the business. They have been up there when it comes to churning out quality paint brushes for over 20 years. They offer a variety of services for detailed and large surface applications. Check out the Purdy 2.5″ XL-Dale Paint Brush and see what we’re talking about.

A company that’s giving Purdy a run for its money is Proform. Overall, their brushes are pretty decent, with the ergonomic designs of their handles edging out the competition. The Proform 2.5″ Pro-Ergo Paint Brush competes more than favorably with the Purdy XL-Dale. These two companies also lead the race when it comes to the best paint rollers in the business.

How to pick out the right paint roller

Paint rollers work well in both exterior and interior paint applications. For a DIYer, they’re a good fit as they offer ease of use, greater speed of application, and versatility. They make for extremely smooth finishes with minimal splatter. Their effectiveness is readily seen when used on large, even surfaces like walls and textured surfaces like stucco, drywall, and concrete.

Paint roller cover material

Paint rollers generally have two constituent parts: the changeable paint roller covers and the paint roller frames on which the covers fit. Let’s have a look at the various materials used on the paint roller covers.

  • Natural fibers – The natural fibers used here include mohair or lamb’s wool and are particularly impressive when dealing with oil-based paints. They can be used on any kind of surface texture.
  • Synthetic fibers – The synthetic materials normally used include polyester resist matting or nylon. They offer good quality when paired with water-based latex paints and are suitable for all kinds of surface textures.
  • Foam roller covers – These work well with high-gloss latex or oil paints, especially on porous surfaces like bare wood. Their longevity of use falls behind other roller types.
  • Versatile blends such as polyester and natural wool make for very effective roller covers when it comes to the number of uses and kind of paint used.

Paint roller cover thickness

The technical term for roller cover thickness is pile or nap. An unspoken rule for nap thickness is that the rougher the surface to be painted, the thicker the roller cover should be. They are available in a couple of sizes, each with its own different purpose.

  • 3/16″ to ¼” – This size is perfect for smooth surface applications like painting interior doors, metal doors, cabinets, and trims. They work nicely with gloss or semi-gloss coatings and both water- and oil-based elements.
  • 3/8″ to ½” – This nap size is used for semi-smooth surfaces like drywall. It can also be used to apply paint on unpainted or painted ceilings and walls.
  • ¾” to 1″ – It is generally used for semi-rough surfaces such as stucco.
  • 1 ¼” to 1 ½” – This is the nap size used for rough surfaces such as painting on masonry and brick, chain link fences, or cinder blocks.

Paint roller sizes

The frames of paint rollers are made up of a rotating cage roller onto which the cover is put and a comfortable handle. They’re available in several sizes that range from a minuscule 2 inches to 18 inches.

  • The standard rollers used in most DIY home projects range from 7″ to 12″, the most suitable of these being the 9″ one.
  • For baseboard molding and small furnishing, choose to go with a small roller of about 6″ to 7″.
  • When painting even smaller or narrow areas like frames, trims, edges, and corners, as well as hard-to-reach sections like the inside of cabinets and bookcases, then use the mini roller whose size is usually below 5″.


When used appropriately, paintbrushes and rollers can make your home improvement projects really live up to the name. Always try to match the brush or roller used with the type of paint and surface texture of the areas to be painted. While the DIY approach is fun if you have the time and ability, when you can’t do everything yourself, why not trust the reliable services of industry professionals? Why not go the Painter Bros route?