The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets of 2022

Giving cabinets the new lease on life that they deserve is all about finding the right tool.

By Will Briskin | Published Sep 19, 2022 9:11 AM

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The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Options

Photo: homedepot.com

Few areas in the home make as big an impact on its aesthetic vibe as cabinets, whether they be in the kitchen or bathroom. Easily upgradable and customizable, cabinets can be given a whole new look without applying any advanced carpentry, and the reward for the amount of effort put in is almost always disproportionately beneficial. Although painting cabinets is a simple task, choosing the one tool that’s absolutely necessary—the paint brush—is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

However, finding the right high-quality cabinet paint brush for one’s specific needs can be a challenge. With so many similar options to choose from, separating what’s worth the money from what’s not can become overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve taken care of this so buyers can quickly find the best cabinet paint brush and get to work.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Purdy XL Cub Angled Sash Brush
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Wooster Brush Q3211-2 Shortcut Angle Sash Paint Brush
  3. BEST FOR LARGE AREAS: Purdy Nylox Swan
  4. BEST FOR NONPAINT FINISH: Minwax Polycrylic 2-Inch Flat Stain Brush
  5. BEST CABINET PAINT ROLLER: Work Tools International Whizz Velour Roller
  6. BEST CABINET BRUSH SET: Pro Grade 5-Piece Paint Brush Set
  7. BEST ERGONOMIC BRUSH: Proform P2.5AS Pro-Ergo 70/30 Blend Paint Brush
  8. BEST MULTISURFACE BRUSH: Modern Art Supplies Chalk and Wax Oval Paint Brushes
The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Paint Brush for Cabinets

When researching and selecting our final recommendations, we paid particular attention to the following considerations:

Type

Cabinet paint brushes are made out of a variety of materials and come in all shapes and sizes. Compounding the difficulty presented by the sheer variety of cabinet paint brushes is the fact that many similar products have contradictory and overlapping descriptions. When it comes to finding the right type, there are five main categories:

  • Natural Bristle:

Natural-bristle brushes are made from animal hair, usually horses, hogs, or badgers, or a combination of the three, and tend to be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. Ironically, although we dread split ends in our own hair, the fact that natural hairs split is one of the main selling points for natural brushes; the split allows them to hold more paint and results in a smoother application. However, natural bristles are incompatible with water-based paint because the splits will absorb too much water, which ruins the paint. If shoppers are refinishing their cabinets with stain or a similar alternative, such as Danish or linseed oil instead of paint, natural bristles are the way to go.

  • Synthetic Bristle: Synthetic bristles are usually cheaper, although high-end synthetic brushes can cost just as much, if not more, than their natural counterparts. Although synthetic bristles aren’t as absorbent as natural bristles, they’re more versatile, especially considering that they work with both water- and oil-based finishes. Synthetic bristles are usually made from nylon or polyester, although many large manufacturers have developed unique bristle materials. Top-quality cabinet paint brushes will often have blended synthetic bristles that combine nylon with polyester, for example.
  • Hybrid: Hybrid bristles combine the best of natural and synthetic bristles in a single sash, which is the technical term for the bristle group. Hybrid brushes offer the longevity and superior paint pickup associated with natural bristles, as well as the favorable characteristics from synthetic bristles, such as minimized brushstrokes. The natural bristles tend to be shorter than the synthetic bristles in hybrid brushes, so users have some control in certain situations. Expect hybrid brushes to be more expensive than synthetic brushes, although they’re cheaper than fully natural brushes.
  • Foam: Foam brushes are absorbent and provide a smooth finish. They are designed to be disposed of after a single use, although users might be able to get two coats out of a single foam brush if they’re lucky. Foam brushes have durable, defined edges that result in precise lines. However, foam brushes tend to have straight-stick handles that aren’t comfortable, especially when they’re used for longer periods.
  • Roller: Rollers come in a variety of materials, from fluffy cotton to firm foam as well as an array of widths. Rollers are great for covering large, flat areas in a small amount of time. However, rollers aren’t great for cutting in or for tight areas. Also, contrary to what many think, rollers can leave marks just like brushes do, so painters still need to use a careful hand in the final coats.

Firmness

Firm brushes are easier to control and more precise, while softer brushes provide a smoother finish because they minimize the visibility of brushstrokes. Softer brushes are also great for covering large spaces, and they don’t have as much resistance in the bristles and are more comfortable for extended use. Many home painters, DIYers and professionals alike, opt for a medium-stiff brush that keeps its shape and offers the precision of a hard brush without leaving deep brush marks.

Size and Angle

Paint brushes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are round while others are flat, and there are also thick and thin varieties. But in terms of cabinet painting, thankfully users have to consider only a few variations. Cabinet paint brushes tend to have a flat sash with a chiseled edge that helps create clean lines.

However, some cabinet brushes are wide and have a thick, flat edge that holds a lot of paint; these brushes, known as square brushes, are best for painting intricate details with the same color. Alternatively, there are brushes with angled edges, which are great for cutting into adjoining surfaces that will be contrasting colors.

Angled brushes are also ideal for narrow areas. In terms of width, cabinet brushes usually range between 3 and 6 inches. Narrower brushes are easier to maneuver and more precise than their wider counterparts, although they don’t hold as much paint and aren’t nearly as efficient for large projects.

Comfort

Comfort is key for cabinet paint brushes, and there’s more to it than meets the eye. The handle is the first thing to take into consideration; those who regularly get stiff palms from long painting sessions should take a look at brushes with ergonomic or cushioned handles. Small handles are easy to grip but may move around in one’s hand, while larger handles have the opposite issue. Also, don’t disregard the stiffness of the bristles. Stiffer bristles require the user to apply more pressure, which may cause painters’ hands to fatigue quickly.

Our Top Picks

From cheap to expensive, soft to firm, angled to straight, these are the best cabinet paint brushes on the market.

Best Overall

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Purdy XL Cub Angled Sash Brush
Photo: amazon.com

Often a single home can have a variety of cabinet styles, and the Purdy XL Cub is capable of handling almost every cabinet style imaginable. The bristles are made from patented Tynex nylon and Orel polyester, which are durable and maintainable. The nylon-polyester blend is great for all types of paint, as well as nonpaint finishes such as polyurethane.

The Purdy XL Cub comes in a smaller 2-inch width, but the 2½-inch brush is better for cabinets; painting cabinets often means covering a large surface area, and wider brushes are more efficient for that task. For a big cabinet painting or refinishing project coming up, shoppers can count on the Purdy XL Cub’s ergonomic handle to keep their hands comfortable hour after hour.

Product Specs

  • Sash width: 2½ inches
  • Firmness: Medium stiff
  • Bristle type: Synthetic nylon–polyester blend

Pros

  • Angled shape aids clean lines
  • Width is good for both detail work and flat surfaces
  • Easy to clean
  • Made in the U.S. by an industry leader

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive

Get the Purdy XL Cub paint brush for cabinets on Amazon or at Ace Hardware.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Wooster Brush Q3211-2 Shortcut Angle Sash Paint Brush
Photo: amazon.com

The Wooster Shortcut has a shortened handle, as the name implies, that fits neatly into the palm of the hand. The fit that the unique handle provides allows users to apply variable amounts of pressure with their fingers while exerting precise control over the paint brush’s movement with minimal wrist and hand motion.

The small handle also makes this brush ideal for tight spaces, which is especially useful for painting cabinet interiors. The white China nylon–polyester blend is designed to leave a smooth, streak-free finish. Another great aspect of this brush is its compatibility with all latex- and oil-based paints and finishes.

Product Specs

  • Sash width: 2 inches
  • Firmness: Medium stiff
  • Bristle type: Synthetic nylon–polyester blend

Pros

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Unique handle design is comfortable
  • Highly maneuverable

Cons

  • Short handle makes it easy to get hands dirty

Get the Wooster paint brush for cabinets at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or The Home Depot.

Best for Large Areas

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Purdy Nylox Swan
Photo: amazon.com

Nylox is one of Purdy’s top-tier paint-brush lines, and the Swan features the same 100 percent black nylon bristles that professionals swear by. For those after a super-smooth finish and who have a large space to cover, this brush can save time and effort. The soft bristles are designed to apply paint smoothly while minimizing the visibility of any leftover brushstrokes.

The brush pickup isn’t amazing, but that’s because if using less paint, it’s less likely to create brushstrokes, which is what this brush is made to avoid. Another great feature of the Purdy Nylox Swan is the smooth hardwood handle, which has a nice taper in the middle that makes it easy and comfortable to grip.

Product Specs

  • Sash width: 4 inches
  • Firmness: Soft
  • Bristle type: Synthetic nylon

Pros

  • Wide sash has good coverage
  • Soft bristles reduce brush marks
  • Comfortable over extended periods of use

Cons

  • Paint pickup is lacking compared to size of the brush
  • Wide sash can be hard to maneuver in tight spaces

Get the Purdy Nylox Swan paint brush for cabinets on Amazon.

Best for Nonpaint Finish

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Minwax Polycrylic 2-Inch Flat Stain Brush
Photo: amazon.com

Among woodworkers, there’s a good chance their cabinets aren’t painted. Many people want to keep the natural look of their wooden cabinets and let the grain flow speak for itself. If that’s the goal, users might want to opt for a nonpaint finish that’s clear or mildly tinted. However, as with painting, the brush choice still makes a big impact on the final product.

Minwax is a leader in the wood finish industry, and its brush is designed to be reliable, effective, and easy to maintain. The bristles are stiff enough to give users the precision they need to avoid creating high spots, which refers to the finish beginning to build in a certain area, as well as the flexibility to minimize brush marks.

The bristles are purpose-built for latex-based products, so there’s no need to worry about them soaking up all of an expensive finish. Though these brushes are incompatible with oil-based finishes, they are ideal for water-based finishes, which are becoming increasingly common and preferred by professionals because of the ease of application and durability of the end product.

Product Specs 

  • Sash width: 2 inches
  • Firmness: Medium stiff
  • Bristle type: Synthetic nylon–polyester blend

Pros

  • Polyester bristles are ideal for water-based finishes
  • Smooth application
  • Affordable
  • Generous pickup for its size

Cons

  • Incompatible with oil-based stains

Get the Minwax paint brush for cabinets on Amazon or at Ace Hardware.

Best Cabinet Paint Roller

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Work Tools International Whizz Velour Roller
Photo: amazon.com

Many painters prefer rollers because they’re easy to maintain and often make painting go faster. The main drawbacks of using rollers are that they’re hard to maneuver and usually suitable for wide planks only. However, the Whizz Velour solves both of those problems. With an appropriately sized handle of roughly 8 inches and a 4-inch roller width, this roller is both easy to maneuver and precise. Best of all, it still retains its superior speed and efficiency characteristics.

The Whizz Velour material is soft and results in smooth, even coverage. Also, with a bit of simple overlapping, the user can completely cover up any roller marks that remain after the first coat; however, this roller leaves very few to begin with.

Product Specs

  • Roller width: 4 inches
  • Surface feel: Smooth
  • Roller material: Velour

Pros

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Efficient, especially over a large space
  • Even finish

Cons

  • Some shedding after first few uses
  • Replacement rollers aren’t easy to find at local hardware stores

Get the Work Tools International paint roller for cabinets on Amazon.

Best Cabinet Brush Set

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Pro Grade 5-Piece Paint Brush Set
Photo: amazon.com

This Pro Grade set proves that high-quality paint brushes don’t have to be expensive. Rather than trying to get one brush that does it all, the Pro Grade set tailors to those who prefer to match their tools to the project as closely as possible. The set includes two flat brushes and three angled brushes, all of different sizes, so users can tackle wide, flat surfaces as well as trim pieces of varying dimensions with ease. Another upside of these brushes is the solid synthetic round-tapered bristles.

They are designed to pick up as much paint as possible, thereby saving the user time, while also releasing paint as quickly as possible during cleanup, making these brushes easy to maintain. Each handle also has a convenient eyelet in the top so the brushes can be neatly hung and stored with the bristles facing down so any excess liquid drains out.

Product Specs 

  • Sash width: 1 to 2½ inches
  • Firmness: Soft/medium
  • Bristle type: Solid synthetic round-tapered filament

Pros

  • 5 different brushes to choose from
  • Durable, easy-to-maintain bristle type
  • Smooth application and generous pickup

Cons

  • Bristles may be too soft to achieve sharpest possible edge

Get the Pro Grade paint brushes for cabinets on Amazon.

Best Ergonomic Brush

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Proform P2.5AS Pro-Ergo 70/30 Blend Paint Brush
Photo: amazon.com

The Proform Pro-Ergo paint brush is purpose-built for comfort and consistent precision during long painting sessions where hand fatigue and discomfort may become a concern. Even the most seasoned professional painters can’t avoid a slip in quality when they’re running low on energy, but this brush aims to delay energy loss by increasing comfort and efficiency in the process.

The hardwood handle has not only a natural contour but also a smooth depression that gently hugs one’s finger or thumb, giving the user acute control over the brush and the application of pressure. Ultimately, this increased control and comfort also result in a smoother finish and fewer brushstrokes, especially once the user gets the hang of using it. To top it all off, the proprietary filaments are incredibly durable and can withstand countless cleanings, even with harsh solvents.

Product Specs

  • Sash width: 2½ inches
  • Firmness: Medium stiff/stiff
  • Bristle type: Synthetic-resin filament

Pros

  • Professional-grade durability
  • Comfortable handle
  • Slightly stiffer bristles are precise

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Small adjustment getting used to unusual handle

Get the Proform paint brush for cabinets on Amazon.

Best Multisurface Brush

The Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets Option: Modern Art Supplies Chalk and Wax Oval Paint Brushes
Photo: amazon.com

This cabinet paint brush is unique in that although it’s relatively purpose-built, it’s quite versatile. Users can paint everything from upholstery and fabric to metal and wood with these brushes, and can even take their finishing skills to the next level by experimenting with less common finishes such as soap wax.

The natural bristles are soft and smooth, and the natural splits at the end of each fiber help increase pickup and the smoothness of the final product. However, the natural bristles aren’t quite as durable as most synthetic blends; but if properly cared for, they can last just as long as even the best man-made alternatives.

Product Specs

  • Sash width: 1 to 2½ inches
  • Firmness: Soft
  • Bristle type: Natural

Pros

  • Compatible with metal, cloth, wood, and more
  • Soft bristles minimize brushstrokes
  • Comfortable handle and leather loop make brush easy to control
  • Compatible with all types of paint and finish, including wax

Cons

  • Bristles begin to shed slightly after a few uses

Get the Modern Art Supplies paint brushes for cabinets on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Based on its versatility and reliability, users can’t go wrong with the do-it-all Purdy XL Cub paint brush for cabinets. At 2½ inches wide, it has plenty of surface area to cover large spaces as well as a flat edge that’s great for getting coverage into the nooks and crannies of intricate cabinetry. Those who are looking to spend less but don’t want to compromise on comfort ought to check out the Wooster paint brush for cabinets. The combination of the handle and the soft bristles makes this model a no-brainer for the budget-minded painter.

How We Chose the Best Paint Brushes for Cabinets

Each product on our list made the cut after thorough research and an examination of what verified customers had to say about their experience with them. We made sure to cast a wide net at the start by considering cabinet paint brushes at a variety of price points from several manufacturers. In addition to each manufacturer’s reputation and overall quality, we focused on key considerations such as firmness, shape, angle, and size. Once we knew which products excelled in each area, we measured their durability as well as their price against their functionality to get a sense of their relative value. The cabinet paint brushes that we selected are all top-tier in terms of value.

Tips for Using Paint Brushes for Cabinets

Painting cabinets, whether they are in a bathroom or kitchen, isn’t as easy as it’s cracked up to be. Between the processes involved with doing any DIY painting and the specific techniques needed to achieve a show-stopping finish, getting everything right can be a challenge. However, there are a few quick tips that, if properly followed, can take one’s painting game to the next level.

  • Approach corners and edges from below and arc upwards toward the edge with the angle of the brush to get the cleanest lines possible.
  • Use the appropriate amount of paint for the brush; we recommend tapping it against the side of the paint can or tray at least twice because excess paint causes visible brushstrokes.
  • Paint in the direction of the wood grain, if applicable, on the finish strokes, and always paint back and forth across the same plane; don’t move horizontally and then vertically with a brush.

General Tips for Painting Cabinets 

  • Make sure to remove all hardware, including internal hardware, before painting.
  • Clean each surface that’s going to be painted with a grease-cutting solution, especially if you’re refinishing your kitchen cabinets where spills and stains abound.
  • Use painter’s tape to number each cabinet face on the side that’s not currently being painted to keep track of where they go.
  • Sand between each coat once it’s completely dry to remove brushmarks and get the smoothest possible finish.
  • After sanding, let the dust settle before vacuuming the surface of what was just sanded as well as the entire room you’ll be painting to reduce the amount of dust in the air.

FAQs

Any professional will tell you that one of the best predictors of a high-quality end product is how well the painter uses their “know-how” to get the job done. Painting cabinets may look simple on the surface, but the reality is that achieving a stunning finish, whether it be high gloss, multicolor, or matte, requires a certain amount of planning and patience. Cabinet painting is all about finding ways to enhance workflow efficiency without compromising the end product. Check out the FAQs below to fast-track your understanding of how to get the job done well.

Q. What kind of paint brush gives the smoothest finish?

Softer bristles result in smoother finishes, although softer isn’t always better.

Q. How many coats of paint do I need for cabinets?

All cabinets should get at least two coats of paint—and likely two coats of primer. If you’re painting high-traffic cabinets, you may want to consider three coats of paint.

Q. What happens if I don’t sand cabinets before painting?

If this is the first time the cabinets are being finished, failing to sand before painting will result in a rougher end finish. However, not all paint refinishing jobs require sanding. Sand anything that is damaged, dented, chipped, or rough.

Q. Which is better for cabinets: spray paint or a paint brush?

For wood cabinets, brush painting is the most common DIY method because it’s more intuitive, requires less materials, and is overall much easier. In addition to being cheaper and easier to set up and clean up, the best paint brushes give painters more control over coat thickness and ultimately allow them to create a longer-lasting finish with thick coats. However, brush painting often leaves marks and is quite time-consuming. Spray-painting offers smoother coverage and quicker application but requires additional tools, which have their own learning curve.

Q. What do I need to get started on painting my cabinets? 

To get started, you’re going to need a few rolls of high-quality painter’s tape, 40- to 50-grit sandpaper to remove any larger imperfections or dents, and 120- to 220-grit sandpaper for smoothing in between coats. We also recommend keeping paint thinner or remover close by as well as some drop cloths and paper towels in case of emergencies.