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With thousands of different paint brushes on the UK market — mostly sold in multipacks containing a variety of head sizes — choosing the right paint brushes for your home is a daunting process.
We’ve tested three of the best paint brushes in the UK. Two manufacturers fought for top billing, but our recommendation for the best paint brushes is Silverline’s 282408 synthetic paint brushes.
Silverline’s brushes combine traditional design with modern manufacturing precision to meet everyone’s requirements, whether hanging them on hooks or dipping them in a variety of gloss, matt, wood stain or lacquer.
Best Paint Brushes Reviews — The UK’s Top 3 in 2023
These are our favourite paint brushes on the UK market, starting with a worthy test winner:
1. Silverline 282408
- Solid round taper filaments.
- For use with emulsion, varnish, wood stain and lacquer.
- Brushes have excellent paint pick-up and even distribution.
- Stainless steel ferrules are durable and corrosion-resistant.
- 5 piece set includes sizes 19, 25, 40, 50 and 75mm.
There’s something pleasingly traditional about Silverline’s five-brush set. Perhaps it’s the wooden beavertail handles with rounded eyelets or the blue bristles tapering off to white tips. These are undoubtedly appealing products to pick up, hold and use.
Also available as a three-piece, the 282408 set includes the only ¾-inch brush on our list, alongside 1, 1.5, 2 and 3-inch brushes. That makes this set uniquely versatile, and the presence of stainless steel ferrules is also welcome, adding extra durability.
|Well-made from premium materials|
2. Harris 101021005 Woodwork Gloss Essentials 5 Pack
- Perfect for general painting with gloss paints.
- Includes the following sizes: 0.5", 1", 1.5", and 2 x 2".
Harris is one of the leading names in paint brush manufacturing, and we’ve chosen their Woodwork Gloss Essentials as our top pick.
Five brushes range from 0.5 to 2 inches, with two of the latter included in a pack that lacks eyelets but does offer soft filaments for glossing.
The lightweight plastic handles are reasonably comfortable to hold for long periods, and the black bristles should show pale paints better than the yellow bristles on the other products on our shortlist. There’s no guarantee against bristle loss, but the stainless steel ferrules give us confidence that these brushes will last.
|Stainless steel ferrules||No eyelets|
|Soft bristles||Only four sizes of brush|
3. Hamilton 23140-005 Prestige Pure Synthetic
- Brushes have excellent paint pick-up and spreading rates.
- Rust-resistant with stainless steel ferrules.
- Easy to clean.
- High-quality synthetic filaments.
- Rounded handles provide a comfortable grip.
It’s a cliché to say you get what you pay for, but Hamilton’s relatively expensive contribution to our shortlist has an air of quality. While other products are stuck together with cardboard or wrapped in clingfilm, this attractive set comes in a dedicated box.
Beavertail handles are comfortable to hold with eyelets installed, ferrules are rust-resistant stainless steel, and the product quality reflects Hamilton’s 200-year history.
|They feel high-quality||Quite expensive|
|Reputation for durability||Limited sizes|
Best Paint Brushes in the UK — 2023 Comparison Table
|Silverline 282408||5||¾” to 3”||Yes||No||Wood||9|
|Harris 101021005||5||½” to 2”||No||No||Plastic||7|
|Hamilton 23140-005||5||1” to 2”||Yes||No||Wood||6|
Paint Brush Buying Guide
Paint brushes sell in matching multipacks, and our chosen candidates range from four to six.
To begin with, look out for the variation in head sizes. Half-inch brushes are ideal for edgings, such as around sockets or the thin front sections of window sills.
Every manufacturer includes one and two-inch brushes in their multipacks, but only a couple go larger. And while you’d probably want to use a roller on large, flat surfaces (as discussed in our guide to the UK’s best emulsion paint rollers), three-inch or four-inch brushes can cut down on the time it takes to paint window sills and deep skirting boards. They also reduce the risk of visible overlapping brush strokes once everything’s dried.
Of course, even the best paint brush is only as good as the paint it’s applying. Our comprehensive guide to different types of paint on the UK market covers everything from palettes and pigments to acrylic and anti-mould paints. Our shortlisted brushes should be suitable for any paint, and we’ve focused on products that are — or claim to be — immune to bristle loss.
Depending on the painting you’re undertaking, the cost could be a factor. None of our brush sets is expensive, but you’ll have to factor their cost into the price of any job. We recently published a guide to calculating the cost of painting jobs, which is worth reading.
Another factor affecting the cost of paint brushes is the materials used in their manufacture. Our chosen products include metal ferrules, which firmly hold the handle and the bristles. Stainless steel is more expensive, but it’ll withstand repeated immersion in water and white spirit more effectively than non-stainless surfaces.
The composition of bristle material is unimportant compared to how densely individual strands pack together, so read product reviews to ensure your chosen set of brushes isn’t likely to shed hair. Picking a bristle out of freshly applied paint inevitably ruins the smooth finish you’ve just applied. That means repainting that section while hoping history doesn’t repeat itself. However, just because a manufacturer guarantees no bristle loss doesn’t mean their products will deliver. Given the low cost of paint brushes, few consumers will ever return them for a refund.
Pro Tip: Although something is pleasing about wooden handles, they can make some people’s hands feel sweaty during ongoing use. The same is true of smooth, shiny plastic handles. If you suffer from this phenomenon, textured or soft-grip brushes provide more comfort for protracted painting jobs.
While these products all do a perfectly adequate job of applying paint to flat surfaces, two manufacturers stood out in our test.
Silverline is the only company to offer quarter-inch size increments, while its wooden handles and two-tone bristles add to a quality aesthetic matched by the user experience.
Similarly, the handles of the Harris brushes are pleasing to hold, and the presence of a half-inch brush (something four of our shortlisted sets don’t include) makes this an excellent choice for detailing and edging.
The Hamilton set has wooden handles rather than the less eco-friendly plastic found elsewhere, though Hamilton’s high price drags down what would have been an impressive score.
Only the Silverline 282408 brushes come close to that level of versatility; overall, it’s a worthy winner.