Best Paint Brush For Trim

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  1. What paint is used for trim? Semigloss paint is the best paint for trim because it dries harder and is easier to clean. Trim gets touched and scuffed more that walls, so it’s important to use a good quality paint on them. Semigloss paint requires multiple coats for full coverage, but you’ll only notice it if you’re changing the color.
  2. You'll also need the best brushes for painting trim; we recommend a 1½- and 2½-inch angle sash brushes readily available. Use high-quality brushes—nylon for water-based paint and a natural-bristle brush for oil-based paint. Inexpensive brushes tend to leave brush marks or lose bristles as you paint.
  3. Then I bought the best paint brush ever. The heavens opened and angels sang. Not really, but I was able to get straight lines around trim. And I don’t even have a steady hand. The Best Paint Brush for Cutting In. I love this short handled angled brush the best. Purdy makes the best one, but I’ll buy Wooster in a pinch.
  4. For Best Results: Start at the corner and use a smooth motion to brush or roll the project area. Use a brush for painting in small panels and over the entire surface to avoid the appearance of roller stipple. Allow enough time for the paint to dry fully before putting doors and windows back into use.
by Brian Sodoma

Like other tradesmen, paint pros are creatures of habit. The tools a mentor uses can often become a go-to for a younger painter as well. When it comes to brush preferences, many pros quickly learn what brand, size or style works for them, and end up sticking with it for the long haul.

“Your dad may have been a painter for 40 years and you started working with him when you were eight or nine years old … there’s that level of comfort, that brand loyalty that builds up,” said Rick Watson, director of product information and technical services for Sherwin-Williams, which also owns Purdy Professional Painting Tools.

Paint pros will feverishly debate which brand or particular style brush holds the most paint and releases better. All are looking for the perfect balance of fewer dips into the paint can, great coverage, and durability as well. And if you ask them, there are many hotly debated answers.

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“The key here is, ‘what tool makes you feel more comfortable when you’re using it?’” Watson added.


Nearly 100 years old, Purdy is hands-down one of the most popular and widely available brush brands on the market today. For 30 years, it has been a go-to for David Wood, owner of Wood’s Painting and Wallpaper of North Adams, MA.

“I’ve tried all kinds of different brushes, but Purdys last the longest, keep their shape, and allow you to do what you want to do,” he added. “I’ve had some for 10 years. The paint bristles are still as fine as ever.”

Today, Wood primarily uses a 3½” nylon-polyester-blend angled-sash brush for most of his trim work, but one of his workhorse brushes is a now-discontinued model called the ‘Wobbler,’ he says. The 3½” brush’s ability to load plenty of paint while cutting clean lines is the reason the pro went on a quest to find as many as possible once he learned they were discontinued. He called hardware stores throughout the region to find them.

“I found a place in Connecticut and I bought the last of what they had. I got those about 10 years ago and I still have them,” he said.

While many pros prefer longer handles, Wood gravitates toward shorter Purdys. “Some guys like more reach but I just like that shorter, thicker handle. … I’m kind of self-taught and that type just works for me,” he explained.


A few years back, Mike Shaffer, owner of Five Star Painting in Temecula, CA, was at a conference where he saw a Wooster brush demo. He had never tried Wooster before but found the demonstration convincing enough to give the brand a try.

“I found the Wooster holds a lot more paint and releases a lot easier,” he said. “That’s a whole lot less of dropping it in the bucket and more laying down without a reload.”

The pro also said because he is 6’4″ tall, he prefers to get as much extension to his left and right before moving over to the next section of a job, and a brush that holds more paint allows him to do that.

Best paint brush for trimming

Shaffer is also a fan of the 3″ oval-brush style, known as the ‘Pippin.’ “That style holds so much more paint than other brushes,” he added.


Kevin Kees, the paint and hardware manager at Curtis Lumber in Hoosick, NY, has painted for more than 10 years. His loyalty also lies with Wooster, and two particular brushes, the ‘Silver Tip’ and ‘Shortcut’ models are the most popular at his store.

Pros like the ergonomically designed handle of the Shortcut, and the nylon-polyester-blended Silver Tip models because the chemically treated tips, “just lay out better, and after you use them, the surface looks like it has been sprayed.”

Pros also prefer the hardy steel ferrule on Wooster, as well as the variety of thin and thick handles that can be found with the brand, Kees said.

Sergio San Roman, with SR Maintenance & Management Services, Inc., in Downey, CA said he uses angled and straight 1½” to 3″ Woosters. San Roman admits to not always having a lot of time to clean properly and will often soak his brushes at night. The Woosters have stood up to the test for a long time without fraying, he added.

San Roman works with a lot of complex cutting situations on exterior trim, he says. He likes to slow down on the job to get his cuts right and the Wooster handles and bristles feel right for his technique.

“If you just take your time, stay patient, and have a steady hand, that’s important. … You can have the best brush in the world, but if you don’t have the integrity and value in the job, your work is still going to look terrible,” he said.


Autumn Bucchieri, manager of Different Strokes Paints & Decorating, in Bennington, VT, said the Wooster-made Benjamin Moore’s 2½” angled-sash nylon-polyester-blend brushes have been a hit for years at her store.

Pricing is a key driver, the longtime painter also says, as the brushes are sometimes up to $10 less than competing styles. “They’re equally durable and work just as well. It’s really a no-brainer,” she said.

To get more out of the Benjamin Moore brushes, she uses a brush comb instead of a wire brush to strip out old paint. It’s something she encourages other pros to do as well. “It really helps any brush last a lot longer,” she added.

Best Purdy Paint Brush For Trim

Best paint brush for gloss trim

For Robson Portes, a crew leader for Five Star Painting of Boston North Shore, MA, price is less of a factor.

Portes, who has worked predominantly on high-end custom homes for more than a decade, is happy to pay an extra $7 or $8 over the competing Wooster or Purdy brush for his Corona brushes.

Best Paint Brush For Trim Work

Portes’ go-to is the 2½” angled ‘Cortez’ model, with its hardwood handle and stainless steel ferrule. “It’s a lot more than the Purdy, but I can cut a nice line no matter how much I wash it and use it,” he explained. “And the Corona can hold so much paint, and it doesn’t splatter. You don’t get those drips on the floor. It just holds that paint in the bristles better. It’s really amazing how it does that.”


Gloss Or Semi Gloss For Trim

The paint pro said many painters shy away from Corona partly because of price, but also because the brand is harder to find. “There are only a couple of stores around where I can find them, but the Purdys you can find everywhere. That’s why, I think, a lot of people stick with them.”

Portes also finds that Picasso brushes bring a similar quality to Corona when it comes to paint hold and release, but says he finds the Corona to be more durable. “The Picassos are similar in price to Purdy,” he added. “They are very good. I just know my Corona can last a lot longer.”


Find the perfect paint for all your metal surfaces indoors and out.


Q: My metal patio chairs are starting to look a bit scuffed and rusty. Can I get good results painting them with some leftover exterior paint I have from a project? If not, what’s the best paint for metal?

A: Due to its slick, smooth surface, metal can be challenging to paint—and that can you’ve got sitting around in the garage probably won’t cut it. To prep metal for paint adhesion, you must first clean it with soap and water, remove light rust with a wire brush, sand it with fine-grain sandpaper, and then (in most cases) prime. Following these measures, you’ll only have success with dedicated metal paints or multi-surface paints labeled for use on metal. Complicating matters, metal-friendly paints are sold in different bases (oil and water), containers (regular and spray cans), and specialized formulas to fend off rust or handle extreme heat. So keep reading to identify the best paint for metal surfaces, and get great results on your next project.


Oil-based paints are the most durable.

Opt for oil-based paint if painting outdoor metal surfaces such as fences, patio furniture, or backyard grills, as well as heavily used indoor items like kitchen cabinets and window frames. Generally pricier than water-based paint ($20 to $50 per gallon), it’s formulated with pigments, alkyds (synthetic resins) or plant-based oil, and solvent (that emit smelly fumes during application) to cure to a rigid coat that repels water and stains and resists dents and scuffs. Oil paint is, however, vulnerable to cracking or chipping, and it also tends to fade over time, so consider a product with built-in fade protection, such as Rust-Oleum Hammered Metal Finish ($12.98 per quart on Amazon).

You’ll achieve a more uniform finish if you first apply an oil-based primer (e.g., Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer, $8.98 per quart on Amazon). However, you can apply oil paint directly to metal because it contains no water, and therefore there’s so no risk of rust. Skipping primer may save you time on the paint job, but you’ll still wait a bit longer for oil-based paint to dry to the touch (usually six to eight hours).

Water-based paints offer faster drying and fewer fumes.

If painting light to moderately used indoor metal surfaces—think wall sconces, bed frames, or guest room night tables—go with water-based acrylic paint, a cheaper ($15 to $40 per gallon), faster-drying option than oil paint. Acrylic paint, made of pigments, acrylic resins, and water, emits fewer fumes and dries to the touch in under an hour into a flexible coat resistant to cracking, chipping, and fading. However, it will be more vulnerable to dents, stains, and scuffs. A typical acrylic paint (BEHR PRO e600 Acrylic Paint, $23.98 per gallon at The Home Depot) also has less organic material than oil paint so it’s less likely to form mildew and mold, making it a better option for moisture-prone areas like kitchens and baths. Keep in mind that exposing water-based paint directly to metal can rust it, so apply an oil-based primer before application.

Spray paint cans offer more complete coverage of irregular surfaces.

Oil- and water-based metal paints come in large cans, for use with brushes or rollers, or aerosol cans, for spray application. Large cans may be the most cost-effective option when painting large, linear metal objects such as fences and backsplashes, but spray paints (e.g., Rust-oleum Hammered Metal Finish Spray, $8.74 for 12 oz. on Amazon) are more convenient when painting smaller surfaces with irregular contours, such as curved patio chair legs, light fixtures, or bed frame poles. Spray paint can cover these metal surfaces more smoothly and with fewer applications than a brush, and you’ll also avoid pesky brush marks.

RELATED: The Dos and Don’ts of Spray Painting


Paint Brush Sizes

Choose rust-resistant paint on moisture-prone surfaces.

Rust can form on any metal made of iron or iron alloys such as steel with prolonged exposure to air and moisture. If you plan to paint metal outdoor furniture or décor, or interior features like backsplashes that regularly come into contact with water or humidity, look for paint designed to resist rust (e.g., Rust-oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint, $13.19 for 12 oz. on Amazon) to preserve the look and integrity of the metal.

Best Paint Brush For Trim Home Depot

Use high-heat paint on heat-generating surfaces.

Best Paint Brush For Trim

Painting a radiator, outdoor grill, fire pit surround, or other heat-generating appliance? Regular oil- or water-based paint can blister and peel when exposed to the high temperature generated by these appliances during operation. To preserve your paint job, choose a high-heat metal paint formulated with heat-resistant resins to withstand high temperatures, such as Rust-Oleum High Heat Spray Paint ($6.98 for 12 oz. on Amazon).