Acrylic paints are bold and beautiful, and whether you paint as a hobby or you’re a professional, you’ll know how important it is to have the right tools.
If you’re a complete beginner and don’t know this, we’re telling you now: having a good set of paintbrushes is the key to achieving your desired painting style and application.
Paintbrushes can be one of those products where amateurs fail to understand the difference between the cheapest brushes and the ones of a higher quality.
However, paintbrushes can differ dramatically depending on their brand, the materials they’re made of, their brush shape, and bristle quality.
In this article, not only have we put together a list of the best acrylic brushes out there, but we’ve also made a Buyer’s Guide, containing everything you need to know about brush shape, quality, and brands, so you can make an informed decision before you buy.
Short on time? Let’s take a look at our top pick…
OUR TOP PICK
This is the best set for beginners, or for kids who are getting into art. These brushes provide great bang for your buck, as you get a set of 20.
They’re also super versatile as they can be used on multiple surfaces and with different kinds of paints, including acrylics, oil, and watercolor, so these are great if you’re currently trying out different paint types and styles.
This set includes all the vital brush shapes, including flat/shader, filbert, round, script, and liner. These brushes have seamless nickel ferrules that resist rust and splitting; they are double-crimped to last longer and won't come loose after a few uses despite being available at such a low cost.
They’re equipped with ergonomic wooden handles that are short and smooth so you have greater control when painting small details.
The hairs are nylon and don’t shed easily, so you won't get frustrated over picking hairs out of your paint. The bristles are smooth and malleable, returning to their original shape after each stroke.
This set is probably too cheap for the more experienced painter, however, for beginners, we can’t fault the value for money and general quality of this extensive brush set.
- Set of 20 - great bang for your buck
- Can be used on multiple surfaces with different paint types
- seamless nickel ferrules
- Double-crimped for improved durability
- Hairs won’t shed easily
- Smooth, ergonomic wooden handles for greater control
- Extensive range of shapes in each set
- Great for beginners and kids
- Bristles aren’t the best quality
- Slight chemical smell
CONDA was established in 1993 and is now the leading art material supply company in China with distributors in more than 100 countries.
Their products cater to amateur and professional artists worldwide, and these brushes are designed to be durable and long-lasting.
The set of 24 contains a brush shape for every paint type and style and the versatility of this set makes them ideal for watercolors and acrylics.
They’re made from high-quality nylon hair for a smooth, even finish and the bristles absorb water well and are flexible and soft. The wooden handles are lightweight and ergonomic, providing full control for long, tedious jobs.
The 24-piece set comes in a free canvas carry case so you can conveniently protect and transport your brushes without worrying that they’ll get damaged or chipped.
The brushes are equipped with seamless double-crimp ferrules that keep the bristles locked in place and are resistant to rust and daily wear and tear.
- 24-piece set with a wide range of brush shapes
- High-quality nylon hair
- Bristles are soft and flexible and absorb water well
- Lightweight wooden handles provide full control
- Double-crimp aluminum ferrules are rust-resistant
- Free canvas case for convenient storage
- White bristles are difficult to keep clean
- Some found the bristles split and didn’t provide a smooth line
This brush set from Mont Marte is extremely versatile, and includes 15 different sizes from 3/0 to 12 ¨C, making these paint brushes perfect for anyone from kids, to beginners, to more experienced artists.
The brushes are great quality: they’re handcrafted using Taklon hair for thick, smooth brush tips, and the hair is sealed in aluminum ferrules to ensure no bristles are left behind.
The wooden shafts are sturdy and durable, and will not wear easily.
These brushes can be used with acrylics, watercolors, and oil paints, and the different angled and shaped brushes provide excellent versatility for a wide range of painting applications and a smooth, fluid finish.
The 15-piece set is stored in a convenient easel brush wallet which means you can keep your brushes safe and secure in between traveling to work, school, or your latest painting spot.
We also love the elegant finish of these brushes and the contrast of the black and gold, which provides an elegant, professional look.
- Great quality at an affordable price
- 15 different sizes
- Handcrafted with taklon hair
- Aluminum ferrule secures bristles
- Sturdy, wooden shafts
- Versatile - can be used with multiple types of paints
- Comes in a convenient brush wallet
- Some bristles came loose when washing
This 10-piece set from Artify includes a liner, flat, filbert, round, fan, and angle brush to accommodate a range of painting styles, from bold blocks of color to finer details.
We love the fact that these brushes are labeled to make selecting the right brush as easy as possible - making them ideal for beginners, but good enough quality for more experienced artists too.
Artify claims to use a heavier glue to secure the ferrules so that the wood and bristles are securely held together.
The bristles are made from high-quality nylon to minimize hair loss and are ideal for use with acrylics, oil, watercolors, and gouache.
The wooden handles are not only ergonomic and comfortable to hold for long periods, but the three-layer coating and heavy glue on the head of the wood mean the brushes can withstand being soaked in water for more than 48 hours.
This is super convenient as it means you can simply put them in the sink after using and wash them whenever you want without the fear of the wood splitting or chipping.
These brushes also come with a handy carry case which means you can conveniently store your brushes.
The case can also be folded shut and secured thanks to the zipper, so brushes won’t fall out when you carry them in your bag.
- Variety of shapes
- Ferrules are well-secured with a heavy glue
- High-quality nylon bristles to minimize hair loss
- Can be used with acrylics, watercolors, oils, and gouache.
- Ergonomic wooden handles for ultimate comfort
- Brushes can be soaked in water for more than 48 hours
- Convenient carry case for easy storage
- Brushes are labeled for ease of use
- Only 10 brushes included
This 15-piece set from Onson contains liner, flat, angular, filbert, round, fan, and comb brushes to accommodate a range of styles and can be used with acrylics, oils, watercolors, and gouaches.
Handmade with nylon bristles, these brushes provide 360-degree rotation and won’t split or shed. The bristles are soft and flexible and keep their spring even after cleaning.
The wooden handles are ergonomic and provide comfort during long painting sessions, while the aluminum ferrules are resistant to rust.
The standout feature of this brush set is the protective case it comes in: it has a pop-up design that allows you to store your brushes upright so they’re easier to reach while you’re painting.
- 15-piece set
- 360-degree rotation
- Soft, flexible nylon bristles
- Wooden handles are ergonomic and comfortable
- Aluminum ferrules are rust-resistant
- Protective case with a pop-up feature
- Artist knife and sponge included
- Chemical smell
Best Acrylic Paint Brushes Buying Guide
If you’re new to acrylics, or to painting in general, you might be wondering about the different brush shapes and the purpose of each. Here’s a quick breakdown of the standard brush shapes every amateur artist should have…
The two main brush types are flat and round, but they can be broken down into further subcategories like angular, filbert, round, fan, and comb.
Flat or rectangular brushes have square ends and flexible bristles that can hold a lot of paint. When used flat, they can make long, thick strokes and are well suited to filling in large areas of color. You can also use the tip and sides for more delicate lines and small touches.
Round and pointed brushes are characterized by their large belly that tapers to a fine point. These create bold strokes and smooth curves and can also render fine lines and details. They’re also widely used in watercolors.
For each brush shape, there are different sizes. These range from 0000 right up to size 24. Generally, mid-size brushes are the most versatile, small would be used for detail work, and large-size brushes are best for painting large areas.
If you’re new to acrylics, start with mid-sized brushes (sizes 6 to 8) and then branch out according to your painting style and ambitions.
You may also notice that different brands of paintbrushes can have different length handles.
Long-handled brushes are great for easel work as they allow you to paint from a distance and see all of your work at once, while those with shorter handles are best for detailed work as they provide better control.
Paintbrushes usually have natural bristles or synthetic bristles. While natural bristles can be great for the heavy texture of oil paint, these aren’t best suited to acrylic paints as the natural hairs can be damaged by acrylic paint over time. Plus, natural bristles don’t fare well if they’re left sitting in water.
While Synthetic bristles are often cheaper, they’re actually better suited to acrylics and are a lot more versatile. Synthetic bristles come in a range of stiff and soft varieties - usually made from nylon or polyester - and are made to mimic the feel and performance of natural-hair bristles.
Synthetic bristles work well with acrylics because they aren’t damaged by the acrylic resin, are easy to clean, and can be left sitting in water.
While they don't hold their shape quite as successfully as natural-hair brushes, high-quality synthetic bristle brushes are pretty durable if cared for correctly, and usually cost less.
If you prefer natural bristles, you can still use these with acrylics, but they need a more thorough cleaning to remove oils or turpentine, as these repel acrylic paint, and they shouldn’t be left sitting in water for very long.
You don’t exactly need to splash out on the most expensive brushes on the web, but quality is definitely something to consider, as cheap brushes often shed their bristles easily and this can be problematic and frustrating if these start coming off in your paint.
Look out for brushes that have double-crimped metal ferrules that won’t rust. Also, ensure the handles are coated and that the brushes won’t split when left sitting in water.
How much you spend on brushes is entirely up to you, and you should adjust your budget according to your experience in painting.
It’s likely that $5 brushes just aren’t going to cut it for an artist with relative experience, but for a kid or a beginner, these will probably do the job and won’t break the bank.
As you gain experience and start to understand more about different brush types and techniques, then you can branch out and spend a little more, if you wish.
It’s also worth shopping around the middle price point (around $10-$35) as this is where you’ll usually find that the brushes that come with a carry case, and perhaps a paint knife or watercolor sponge, too.
When painting with fast-drying acrylics you should clean your brushes quickly after using them, as it's possible to destroy your brushes if you allow the paint to dry on the bristles. You can avoid your acrylic paint drying on the brush by only using one brush at a time.
Once you’re done using that one brush, you can clean it and move onto the next brush. Avoid getting paint on the ferrule and don’t rest your paintbrush in a cup of water with the bristles facing downwards, as you’ll end up with wonky bristles.
Before heading to the sink to rinse your paintbrush, squeeze out the excess paint from the bristles using a paper towel. Then swish the brush around in a cup of water to clean off any excess paint, and dry the brush using the paper towel.
Rinse your brush in lukewarm water and squeeze the bristles to get rid of any leftover paint. You can also use special artist’s soap to clean the bristles thoroughly. Once you’ve removed all of the paint, dry the bristles once more and store your paintbrush horizontally allowing it to dry thoroughly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need special brushes for acrylic paint?
No, you don’t. However, it’s best not to use brushes with natural bristles, as these are best suited to oil paints and don’t cope well with acrylics.
Because of this, the best brushes for acrylic paints tend to be those with synthetic bristles, and these are usually easier to clean and cheaper, too.
Can you use makeup brushes for acrylic painting?
Yes, you can. Make-up brushes tend to have synthetic bristles which makes them ideal for acrylic paints. Another reason why they’re well-suited to acrylics is that they have short bristles, which means you can have better control when painting.
Generally, makeup brushes have smooth, flexible bristles and come in as many variations as paintbrushes do: from fan styles to round, thin to thick. They’re also easy to clean and are pretty affordable when compared to the cost of high-end paintbrushes.
Some people also suggest that makeup brushes don’t shed as easily as cheap paintbrushes do.
How do you avoid brush strokes in acrylics?
If you want to achieve solid blocks of acrylic color without visible brush strokes, there are several ways to achieve this effect. You can start with a pre-gessoed smooth panel or apply your own gesso and wet sand between coats. You could also use a soft brush and use thinner paint with it, or alternatively, swap your brush for a spray, roller, or even a squeegee.
It’s also a good idea to select colors carefully - go for colors that are opaque, not transparent, as otherwise, it’s very difficult to avoid brush strokes. You could also try golden fluid acrylics rather than heavy body paints, or even house paints, as these have a “flatter” color.