9 Best Paintbrushes for Polyurethane of 2023 [Tested]

Are you considering applying a polyurethane coating on your painting project but are confused about the kind of paintbrush to use for the job? 

Well, you’re in luck! In this article, we comprehensively analyze 9 of the best paint brushes available on the market to apply polyurethane coatings.

Choosing the right product is a crucial step that most people tend to overlook. Since polyurethane is adhesive by nature, it requires a really high-quality and tough paintbrush for the job. 

Most regular or standard brushes are not built to withstand the tenacious nature of this polymer. Hence, when used for application, they tend to get ruined after just a single coating. But we’re here to ensure that this never happens to you. 

Each of the brushes we’ve reviewed in this article has been tried and tested to provide the best results on a variety of surfaces. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get right to the business, shall we? 

Best Paint Brushes for Polyurethane

the list of the 9 best paint brushes for polyurethane that you can use to give your surfaces a professional, smooth finish.

1. Wooster Brush Q3108-2 – Best for Long-Term Use

The Wooster Brush Company is one of the oldest paint brush manufacturers operating in the USA. Since its inception in Ohio in 1851, it has been committed to manufacturing the most innovative and high-functioning painting equipment. No wonder it has become a household name and is one of the most reliable paintbrush brands out there.

This nylon paintbrush is one of the most popular Wooster brushes available on the market! The soft and even brush tips on this tool give a smooth and even paint finish on a variety of surfaces. Additionally, the nylon and polyester blend material of the bristles lends it the strength to withstand the adhesive nature of polyurethane. 

Furthermore, the sturdy steel ferrule on this brush makes it an extremely sturdy and long-lasting product with virtually no shedding. Hence, this product is a great one-time buy for long-term use. Apart from that, the short yet firm handle on this brush makes the application process really easy to control and maneuver. 

What’s more, it is compatible with all kinds of paints, be it latex-based or oil-based. Consequently, it can be used for applying both water-based and oil-based polyurethane paints, offering more flexibility to apply the coating of your choice. 

The handle of this paintbrush tends to be really slick, which makes it difficult to hold onto. This is especially true when you’re painting barehanded or while wearing plastic gloves. Hence, we recommend purchasing a pair of latex gloves as they facilitate an increased grip on the brush during the painting process. 

Dimensions: 2.16 x 0.72 x 9 inches | Weight: 2.4 ounces | Brush Size: 2 inches | Bristle Material: Polyester, nylon | Handle Material: Plastic

2. Pro Grade Chip Paint Brushes – Best for Budget Buyers

Pro Grade is known for manufacturing a versatile array of paint brushes for a variety of purposes. This brand usually markets its brushes in large packs for added value and convenience. And the paintbrush pack we have on our guide today has a total of 36 disposable brushes.

This multipurpose paintbrush is one of the most versatile painting tools in our guide today. It can be used for a multitude of purposes, including but not limited to, painting, staining, applying adhesives, and so on. Hence, this is a really good option to consider for the application of polyurethane coatings. 

Moreover, since this brush comes in a pack of 36, it is extremely reasonably priced for the quantity provided. This tool is also disposable and meant for short-term usage, which is partially why it’s only available in large packs. This means that if a brush gets ruined in the process of applying an adhesive, you can simply throw it out and move on to the next one.

Equipped with a solid and sturdy wooden handle, this brush is easy to control and leaves a great finish on most surfaces. Additionally, it is compatible with all stains, paints, acrylics, varnish, and gesso making it ideal for varied home and industrial projects. 

Some paint brushes in this value pack tend to shed many bristles, especially when being used for the first time. Hence, painting with it becomes challenging because you’re constantly forced to pick out stray bristles from the paint surface. Besides, these were never meant for long-term use and are supposed to be disposed of after a handful of applications. 

Dimensions: 9.02 x 7.8 x 2.72 inches | Weight: N/A | Brush Size: 2 inches | Bristle Material: China bristle | Handle Material: Wood

3. Wooster Brush 3103-1-1/2 – Best for Smooth Finishes

The Wooster Brush Company, as we discussed earlier, is one of the most reliable and popular brush manufacturers in the USA. It has consistently produced and delivered high-performance and innovative painting tools since its inception in 1851. This foam brush that we have included in our guide is thereby no exception.

Made out of high-quality thick polyurethane plastic foam, this reinvented model of the standard paint brush by Wooster is known as Foam King. The inbuilt stiffener blade of this product holds the foam in place and gives it excellent control and precision. This consequently enables you to provide a smooth and seamless paint finish with zero leftover brush marks. 

Furthermore, this incredibly versatile product offers unmatched coverage on a wide range of surfaces. It is additionally compatible with all kinds of paints, varnishes, and stains available in the market. This allows you to use it for a variety of purposes including decoupage, antiquing, art and craft projects, and so on. 

What’s more, since this brush is not made of bristles, there’s no scope for shedding during the process of painting. Apart from that, this is also exceptionally great for coating surfaces with protective adhesives and hence is perfect for applying a polyurethane coating. 

Some customers have voiced their grievances regarding having received poor-quality brushes where the foam pad came off the plastic handle in just a few strokes. However, this is a rather rare occurrence and depends mostly on your luck and the specific batch of brushes in question. 

Dimensions: ‎9.8 x 1.8 x 0.7 inches | Weight: N/A | Brush Size: 1.5 inches | Bristle Material: N/A | Handle Material: Plastic

4. Hiltex 00308

Hiltex has developed a comparatively inexpensive paint brush set that comes packaged with 5 of the most popular brush widths in the market. The sizes available in this set are 1-inch, 1-1/2-inch, 2-inches, 2-1/2-inches, and 3-inches, respectively.

This clever set of polyester paint brushes comes in 5 different widths and styles to maximize its usage and functionality. Four out of the five brushes in this pack are flat, while one is slightly angled. The diversity in its structure enables users to utilize them for a versatile set of painting projects.

Furthermore, these paint brushes are feathered towards the end to enhance their paint-holding capacity and thereby optimize your painting experience. This eliminates the need for you to constantly dip the brush in paint to get the required coverage. Additionally, this painting tool is incredibly easy to clean and maintain. All you need to do is soak it in some warm soapy water to get it looking brand new. 

If that wasn’t enough, all the paint brushes in this pack are compatible with virtually all types of paints, stains, and varnishes. Equipped with hanging holes on the handle, you can simply hang them after washing to facilitate fast drying and easy organization. 

The bristles on these paintbrushes aren’t as great quality as you’d hope to expect. The arrangement of the fibers is usually slightly uneven and they also tend to shed during projects. In some instances, customers stated that the bristles were flicking paint onto the surrounding areas making the application process rather untidy.

Dimensions: 11 x 1 x 13 inches | Weight: 0.64 ounce | Brush Size: 1 inch, 1.5 inches, 2 inches, 2.5 inches, 3 inches | Bristle Material: Polyester, feather | Handle Material: Wood

5. Wooster Brush 5221-2-1/2

Next up, we have yet another paint brush by The Wooster Brush Company. This ingenious and innovative brand can always be relied upon to develop high-performing painting tools for your home and professional requirements. This reputation of theirs thereby extends onto the angled silver bristle brush that we have on our guide today.

This one-of-a-kind silver-tipped paint brush is made ‘the Wooster way,’ which is by using its exclusive formula of chemically tipped polyester. The filaments used to create this brush are so thin and flexible that it virtually leaves no brush marks on the paint surface. Additionally, the feather-light softness of this brush offers a smooth and precise finish with high coverage that is unmatched by most other brands on the market.  

Furthermore, the silver tips of this paintbrush are specifically suited for the application of varnish or polyurethane to the wood, enamel to metal, and other thin water-based coatings. Hence, this is undoubtedly one of the hardest and most versatile paint painting tools available on the market. 

What’s more, the sturdy steel ferrule of this brush keeps all the bristles intact and eliminates any chances of shedding during painting. If that still wasn’t enough, this tool also adds an extra shine and luster to any surface you paint. All of the above make this product a really handy tool to have around the house. 

This paintbrush has really soft bristles that tend to lose their shape easily. To avoid this from happening, it’s crucial to wash them in warm to hot water and shape them with your hands after every use. It’s also recommended you don’t bang this tool against any surface to get the extra water out as they fall apart rather easily. 

Dimensions: ‎1 x 3 x 13 inches | Weight: ‎4.8 ounces | Brush Size: 2.5 inches | Bristle Material: Polyester | Handle Material: Wood

6. Magimate P001WS

Magimate is a rather well-renowned brush manufacturer in the USA. Its series of versatile painting tools have been tested and thereby proven to work with a wide range of paint lacquers and coatings. This specific paint brush set includes 3 angled and 2 flat brushes of varying widths.

Each of the paint brushes in this pack is built with extremely long handles to make the application method smoother and easier for you. The extended distance from the bristles to your hand further eliminates the requirement to wear a glove during the painting process. 

Furthermore, the varied shapes and sizes of these paint brushes give users the option to choose between them for optimal paint application. The angled brush, for example, is ideal for painting in clean lines and comes in handy during paint touch-ups. Alternatively, the flathead brush usually focuses on volume more than anything else and gives you a smooth and even finish. 

Apart from the above, this painting tool has remarkable paint holding capacity and always releases it evenly on the surface it is applied to. This thereby guarantees professional-quality paint application. Lastly, the brush can apply a wide variety of paints, varnishes, and enamels and is thereby an ideal purchase for home improvement projects. 

A few customers have gone on the record to state that these paint brushes are not shed-resistant as the description states them to be. Shedding can be particularly annoying when it occurs while you’re in the middle of a painting job. It forces you to pick out the runaway bristles from the surface and thereby ruin the finish of the coating. 

Dimensions: 12.2 x 4.13 x 1.73 inches | Weight: 10.5 ounces | Brush Size: 1 inch, 1.5 inches, 2 inches, 2.5 inches | Bristle Material: Polyester | Handle Material: Wood

7. Purdy 144296020

Purdy is a notably reputable brush manufacturing company that is especially popular among industry specialists and professionals alike. This brand is situated under the larger wing of the Sherwin-Williams Company which specializes in the production of paints and primers. Hence, it should be no surprise that one of their paintbrushes has made its way into our top recommendations.

All paint brushes manufactured by Purdy are handcrafted in the very same process they used to be 85 years ago at their inception. They have retained this age-old method of production because the company believes that the finest painting tools take a little longer to build. Made with a unique blend of natural ox hair and white china bristle, this tool offers superior coverage on a variety of project surfaces. 

Equipped with engineered brush bristles that always return to their relaxed state after use, these paint brushes maintain their original shape with relative ease. Apart from that, the filaments are coated with wax in order to prevent water penetration and increase airflow amongst them. This quality makes this tool mold-resistant and thereby much more long-lasting than its counterparts. 

Last but not least, this painting tool, although compatible with most types of coatings, is considered optimal for polyurethane application. The angular trim further facilitates precise and neat application on a variety of surfaces. 

Although this paint brush claims to be shed-free some customers have complained regarding it shedding too much. Although this is not an issue faced by every single customer, it is still one worth taking note of. Additionally, the price point of this tool is rather high, so it might not seem very affordable to some. 

Dimensions: N/A | Weight: ‎2.4 ounces | Brush Size: 2 inches | Bristle Material: China bristle | Handle Material: Wood

8. Wooster 5232-3

Here we have yet another paint brush by The Wooster Brush Company. All painting tools by this brand are made of exceptionally high-quality and durable materials that you can blindly depend on. Their reputation for manufacturing well-regarded high-performing tools has remained consistent since its inception in 1851.

These Gold Edge paint brushes are created using Wooster’s exclusive process of chemically tipping their bristles in polyester. This method of manufacture makes them incredibly soft, facilitating smoother and more even application of paint with virtually no brush marks. It is, therefore, one of the best painting tools to invest in when you’re looking for professional results. 

That being said, the softness of the bristles does not take away from the stiffness of this paint brush’s form. The stainless steel ferrule holds the filaments closely together to provide it with the control required for optimum precision and coverage during application. This enhanced resistance gives it the ability to seamlessly perform sharp single-pass cuts on the painting surface. 

Additionally, this paintbrush is compatible with most paints, stains, enamels, and varnishes and can be used on a variety of surfaces. This gives it the versatility and endurance required to paint any surface with a polyurethane coating effectively. 

The cost of this paintbrush is a little on the expensive side. Especially since the price of this one tool is almost equivalent to the price of other paint brush packs, it might not seem very affordable for most people. This decreases the overall value for money of this product. 

Dimensions: ‎11.11 x 3.17 x 0.93 inches | Weight: ‎3.2 ounces | Brush Size: 3 inches | Bristle Material: Polyester | Handle Material: Wood

9. Redtree Industries 12033

Redtree Industries is recognized for manufacturing a range of the finest tools primarily for the application of marine coatings such as antifouling paints and topside finishes. Its innovative research and development have enabled it to deliver a new generation of superior applicators for all kinds of marine coatings.

If you’re looking for a paintbrush specifically designed for applying marine coatings, this is by far the best available option for you. Although Redtree specializes in producing applicators for marine coatings, these tools can simultaneously be used for a variety of other purposes. 

Furthermore, the enhanced structure of this brush with its natural bristles makes it uniquely compatible with most kinds of paints and enamels. It is especially recommended for use with oil-based stains such as the standard oil-based polyurethane coating available on the market. 

Finally, the ergonomic handle design makes this paint brush particularly simple to use and gives you optimum control and precision over your application. If that wasn’t enough, the filaments of this tool have the ability to contain an exceptional quantity of paint. This, alternatively, enables you to give smooth and even coverage on all surfaces, from canvases to metal and wooden projects. 

It has been noted that a few customers mentioned their brush shedding a lot of filaments during the paint application process. Although a rare occurrence, there are probably a few defective paintbrushes in every lot. If that is the case, you can simply inform customer service to place a request for either a refund or a replacement. 

Dimensions: ‎9.75 x 2.15 x 0.75 inches | Weight: 2.4 ounces | Brush Size: 2 inches | Bristle Material: China bristle | Handle Material: Wood

Best Paint Brush for Polyurethane Comparison Table

Product Dimensions Weight Brush Size Bristle Material Handle Material
Wooster Brush Q3108-2 2.16 x 0.72 x 9 inches 2.4 ounces 2 inches Polyester, nylon Plastic
Pro Grade Chip Paint Brushes 9.02 x 7.8 x 2.72 inches N/A 2 inches China bristle Wood
Wooster Brush 3103-1-1/2 ‎9.8 x 1.8 x 0.7 inches N/A 1.5 inches N/A Plastic
Hiltex 00308 11 x 1 x 13 inches 0.64 ounce 1 inch, 1.5 inches, 2 inches, 2.5 inches, 3 inches Polyester, feather Wood
Wooster Brush 5221-2-1/2 ‎1 x 3 x 13 inches ‎4.8 ounces 2.5 inches Polyester Wood
Magimate P001WS 12.2 x 4.13 x 1.73 inches 10.5 ounces 1 inch, 1.5 inches, 2 inches, 2.5 inches Polyester Wood
Purdy 144296020 N/A ‎2.4 ounces 2 inches China bristle Wood
Wooster 5232-3 ‎11.11 x 3.17 x 0.93 inches ‎3.2 ounces 3 inches Polyester Wood
Redtree Industries 12033 ‎9.75 x 2.15 x 0.75 inches 2.4 ounces 2 inches China bristle Wood

Buying Guide for the Best Paint Brush for Polyurethane

Choosing the right paint brush can be a tedious process, especially with all the varied options available on the market and our guide. To make this a little simpler, we have compiled this buyer’s guide listing out all the important factors one needs to consider while purchasing this product. So, without any further ado, let’s jump right into it, shall we?

Bristle Type

There are mainly two types of paint brush bristles available in the market – natural and synthetic. It is important to note that natural bristles work better with oil-based coatings, while synthetic bristles are beneficial for water-based coatings. Hence, it’s best to choose your brush depending on the formulation of the polyurethane coating you are planning to apply. 

We additionally recommend investing in a brush with soft filaments because they provide enhanced control and high coverage during application. 

Bristle Handle

The structure and build of the handle are crucial factors that most beginners tend to downplay or overlook while purchasing a paintbrush. Each type of handle in a painting tool is designed for a specific task. 

So, for example, a short and dense brush handle is ideal for painting small projects. On the other hand, if your project is more extensive, we recommend buying a well-contoured handle with a firm grip to have a comfortable application experience. 

Bristle Width and Style

Your paintbrush’s width, size, and style will depend entirely on the project you are attempting to paint. We recommend using a relatively wide flat brush for substantial-sized projects that will enable you to cover more area with every stroke. 

Alternatively, if you’re working on a project with a lot of angles/corners, you might want to consider a smaller angle brush. This angled bristle formation lends you enhanced precision and control than its broader flat counterparts lack. 

Are natural or synthetic bristles better for applying polyurethane?

Synthetic bristles, such as nylon, polyester, or a mixture of both, are generally better as they resist deformation and maintain brush shape better when exposed to solvents commonly found in polyurethane.

Do I need a specific brush for oil-based and water-based polyurethane?

Yes, oil-based polyurethane typically requires a natural bristle brush, whereas water-based polyurethane needs a synthetic bristle brush to maintain brush shape and avoid splaying.

Which brush shapes work best with polyurethane?

Flat, angled, and chiseled brush shapes are recommended for controlled, precise application.

How do I prepare a new brush for polyurethane application?

“Fan” out the bristles and tug gently to remove any loose bristles. Wash the brush with soap and water (or mineral spirits for oil-based polyurethane), then rinse and shake out any excess moisture, allowing it to dry fully before use.

How can I avoid brush marks when using a paintbrush?

Choose a high-quality brush with fine, soft bristles, thin the polyurethane slightly and apply light, even strokes in the direction of the wood grain.

It’s essential to maintain a wet edge and avoid overworking the material.

How do I clean my paintbrush after applying polyurethane?

For water-based polyurethane, use warm, soapy water. For oil-based polyurethane, use mineral spirits or paint thinner.

Thoroughly rinse your brush and remove excess liquid by gently squeezing the bristles. Then, reshape the bristles and hang or lay them flat to dry.

How often should I replace my paintbrush for polyurethane applications?

A high-quality brush can last several years with proper care and maintenance.

Replace your brush when bristles start to fray or lose their shape, affecting your ability to achieve a smooth finish.


Hence, as you can see, picking out the right paint brush for applying a polyurethane coating isn’t as simple as it seems. But this guide supplies you with the best options available on the market to make your decision-making process just a little bit easier. 

However, before we log off for the day, we wanted to mention some of our favorite picks. 

The Wooster Q3108-2 is one of the most high-performing brushes on our guide and is perfect for customers on a budget. Alternatively, the Wooster Brush 3103-1-1/2 is the most innovatively designed foam paint applicator – best for those looking for exceptional coverage. 

Last but not least, we have the Hiltex 00308 paint brush set that is not only affordable but also comes with 5 different brush sizes. This is thereby ideal for customers planning to attempt variably-sized projects. 

So, with that, we come to the end of the article. We hope to see you next time!

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