Round and chubby, stencil brushes feature bristles that are carefully trimmed to form a blunt end. These specialty brushes are used to better apply paint through a stencil, as they help prevent colors from seeping beneath your template. Rather than brushing in wide gestures, you typically tap or apply it using scrubbing motions, holding the handle perpendicular to the work surface. These brushes come in various sizes, so if you’re looking for your first one, you might want to pick up a set so you can try out different kinds.
1. Royal & Langnickel Zen Series Brushes Set
This is a comprehensive set of brushes you’ll return to over and over again, whether your choice of medium is watercolors, acrylic paint, or inks. The shape of these ferrules is slightly flatter than in most stencil brushes, but in this case it provides more control over the medium. Included are five brushes—three stiff, and two slightly less so—made of a blend of synthetic and natural hair. These are resilient tools that won’t quickly shed bristles, and they can scrape paper without tearing through the wet surface. Each also holds an ample amount of water, so you can maintain your brushwork at a steady pace.
2. Silver Brush Limited Stencil Brush Set
Using a short stencil brush can give you greater control over your gestures. This set from small business Silver Brush presents good-quality options. You get three brushes, each a different size, with bristles made of short, white hog hair that is neatly trimmed. The results are near-perfect flat and square tops that are well-suited for dabbing and swirling paint. The size makes these fantastic to use to reach tight spaces, too.
3. Plaid Stencil Brush Set
This economical option presents a wide variety of brushes to use specifically for acrylic paints. You get eight brushes ranging from 1/8- to 1/2-inch in diameter, each one with natural boar’s hair bristles. The hair is quite stiff, so applying a gentle hand is best, which also helps prevent unpleasant shedding. Although these brushes don’t carry the same longevity as most of our other picks, you do get two of each size, so once one wears out, you have an immediate replacement.
4. Brietis Premium Chalk Brush
This brush is designed for painting furniture, so it should be used with material such as chalk paint, milk paint, or wax. With a brush head measuring two inches in diameter, it is ideal for painting large surfaces, so you can use it to paint, say, wall stencils or designs on furniture you are upcycling. The bristles are soft, high-quality hog hair that withstands rough treatment. You can freely dab and blend paint without worrying about leaving strands in your work.
5. da Vinci Graphic Design Series Stencil Brush
Da Vinci’s brushes are artist-grade tools that can be used with almost any kind of paint and on surfaces from canvas to textiles. Each is made of Chinese white hog hair, rooted in a nickel ferrule, which helps keep the bristles intact as you work. The wooden handles are pleasingly smooth to hold, made in Germany, and sourced from sustainable forests. Elegant and resilient, these brushes are capable of achieving clean and defined impressions.