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Paint Brushes

A paint brush is a very personal tool. That is why there are many different sizes and styles from which to choose. A brush is an ideal choice when painting trim, corners and small areas. Also, a specialty paint brush should be used for projects like painting furniture, exterior decks and railings.

Anatomy of a Paint Brush 

Paint brushes have three main components:

  • Handle – This is where you hold the brush.  Normally handles are circular in cross section tapering towards the end, although some are oval or triangular in cross section which is supposed to improve grip.  Commonly made of wood, but sometimes plastic.  The handle should be long enough to give a comfortable grip, but no so long as to get in the way or poke out an eye. 
  • Hairs or bristles – This is the business end of the brush and what makes the difference between a good and bad brush.  The material that the hairs of made of, how they are bunched together and their length and shape all affect the characteristics of the brush. 
  • Ferrule – This is the metal collar that grips the hairs tightly together and clamps them on to the handle.  The base of the hairs should be held firm with glue and the ferrule acts as an additional clamp on the hairs.  On cheap brushes the ferrule may break off easily from the handle, or there may be no glue holding the hairs, so the occasional hair will pull out when painting which can spoil the finish.


Brush Fill Material

  • Nylon/Polyester and 100% Nylon Brushes: A specific blend of nylon and polyester filaments make this brush a fine finishing tool that is very durable and easy to clean. The white nylon tips are precisely flagged and tapered for a sharp cut-line.
  • Although nylon is a soft material, it is also the strongest and most expensive material in a paint brush. 100 percent nylon brushes offer extreme durability, even when used on rough or abrasive surfaces. 100 percent nylon brushes are finished using several hand-trimming steps to create a superior cut-in tool.
  • Black and White China Bristle Brushes: By nature, Black China bristle is stronger and thicker coarse hair, which makes it the perfect bristle to use with oil-based paints and epoxies.
  • White China bristle, by contrast, is soft and thin. A white China bristle brush is the perfect tool for stain, varnishes, polyurethanes and all clear coatings. It lays these topcoats on with a glass-smooth finish. White China bristle brushes are also suitable for oil-based paints if a softer flex tool is desired.
  • Black China/Ox Hair Blend Brushes: Ox hair is extremely fine and soft, creating an exceptional tool for fine finish work. Black China/ox hair blend brushes offer a perfect tool for special jobs or to provide a very soft brush feel.


Brush End Types

  • Chisel Trim Brush - slanted bristles produce a good, straight line for trimming in corners and edges.
  • Square Trim Brush - the ends of the bristles are cut square and used primarily for applying paint over flat areas.
  • Angled Brush - bristles are cut to make it easier to apply paint to window trim.


Brush Styles

  • Thin Angle Sash - slanted bristles and a thin profile produce a good, straight line for trimming in corners and edges.
  • Angle Sash - features slanted bristles and holds more paint than its thin counterpart. Excellent for cutting in at the ceiling or painting trim.
  • Flat Sash - bristles are straight across and used primarily for applying paint over flat areas.
  • Trim - a flat brush excellent for painting large flat surfaces, especially exterior siding.
  • Wall - a thick flat brush that holds a larger amount of paint. Excellent for painting larger surface areas.



Roller Covers

Rollers help you paint large, flat surfaces in much less time than a brush. They are also excellent for use on all walls, stucco, concrete or any other flat surface. Here are some options to consider when purchasing a roller cover:

Roller Cover Material

  • Nylon/polyester: Synthetic roller covers are ideal for applying latex paints. They resist matting and hold their shape for a smooth finish.
  • Natural fiber covers: Roller covers that are made from natural fiber include mohair and lamb's wool. They are ideal for oil-based coatings.
  • Blended covers: Roller covers made from a blend of natural and synthetic fibers are excellent multipurpose covers and can be used with all paints.

Foam Roller Covers compared to Nap Roller Covers:

Foam Roller Covers

Foam roller covers work great with latex paints, as they are made for a thinner paint. Oil paints are generally too thick to achieve good results with a foam roller. Foam rollers are also ideal for smooth surfaces. The uniform thickness of the foam means that they aren't the best choice for rough surfaces. Foam rollers absorb a lot of paint. Because of these factors, they work well when painting a large smooth wall. Foam roller covers apply paint in thin coats. They leave fewer lap marks, and work well with gloss or semi-gloss latex paints. Foam rollers are sometimes considered one use rollers. However, the lower price of one-use rollers can impact the end quality of your paint job.

Nap Roller Covers

The term nap refers to the length of the fibers covering the center tube. Consider the material the nap is made of as you are deciding which one to purchase. They come in both synthetic and natural fibers. Synthetic fibers are ideal for latex paints and all surface textures. The longer the nap, the more paint the roller cover will absorb. Smooth surfaces generally require a nap of 3/16 to 1/4 inch. Medium, semi-smooth surfaces require a nap of 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Semi-rough surfaces, such as stucco, require a nap of 3/4 to 1 inch. Extra rough surfaces, such as brick, require a nap of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch.


Nap refers to the length of the roller cover material. Select a nap length according to the surface’s texture.

Nap length: 3/16" and 1/4"

  • Best for: Smooth surfaces
  • Use on: Untextured plaster or drywall, metal, or smooth wood such as cabinets, doors, or trim

Nap length: 3/8" to 1/2"

  • Best for: Medium (semi-smooth) surfaces
  • Use on: Lightly textured drywall or wood, acoustical

Nap length: 3/4" to 1"

  • Best for: Semi-rough surfaces
  • Use on: Stucco, textured plaster walls, paneling, concrete floors or blocks, decks

Nap length: 1 1/4" to 1 1/2 "

  • Best for: Extra rough surfaces
  • Use on: Rough wood, cinder block, brick, heavily-textured plaster or stucco, chain link fences




Latex paints or acrylic paints are fast-drying water-based paints. Oil based paint is a slow drying paint made with oil.

Latex paints are generally better for the interior of homes and on large surfaces. Oil-based paints are generally used on metals, wood and for paintings. The difference between oil-based and latex paint lies in their composition, properties, and ease of use. The fumes of the oil-based paint are also known to be toxic to health and harmful to the environment and is hence a less popular choice in home furnishing.

Latex Paint versus Oil Based Paint comparison chart
Latex Paint Oil Based Paint
  Water-based Oil-based
Composition Latex paint is thinner and easier to use. Oil-based paints are thicker and harder to use.
Ease of Use Matte and Glossy Smoother; glossy
Finish 1-2 hours Days to weeks
Time to dry Primer is not required with latex paint. Oil based paints need primer.
Primer While latex paint is more easily stained, it does not crack or peel with time. While oil based paint is not easily stained, it may turn yellow and crack with time.
Durability Light Strong
Odor Latex paints are not toxic. Oil based paints can be toxic.
Toxicity Fluorescent colors are only available in latex paints. Prussian Blue and Zinc white are only available in oil-based paints.
Availability of colors Upto 40% cheaper than oil-based paints Varies based on quality.
Price flexible more likely to chip