Paint Brush Sizes: Everything You Need To Know

Paint Brush Sizes

Choosing the right paintbrush can be daunting, especially for beginners. 

With numerous shapes, hair types, and sizes available, navigating the world of paintbrushes can feel overwhelming. While it may be tempting to buy every brush in sight, prioritizing quality over quantity is key. 

Investing in well-made brushes ensures longevity and better performance, striking a balance between budget and creative needs. 

In this guide, we’ll simplify the process by providing insights into paintbrush measurements and sizes, along with size recommendations. 

Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, we’re here to help you make informed decisions and enhance your artistic journey.

How Do Paint Brush Sizes Work?

How Do Paint Brush Sizes Work?

Paint brush sizes can be a bit tricky to understand, but I’ll break it down for you.

First off, when you see sizes like 20/0 or 30, remember this: the bigger the number, the bigger the brush size. So, a size 30 brush is larger than a size 20/0 brush.

Now, if you spot sizes like 10/0 or 5/0, things work a little differently. Here, the bigger the fraction, the smaller the brush size. So, a 5/0 brush is smaller than a 10/0 brush.

Sometimes, brush sizes might refer to the width of the metal part that holds the bristles together, called the ferrule. You might see sizes like ¾” or 1”.

But here’s the tricky part: there’s no set standard for brush sizes. It’s like trying to figure out clothing sizes—each brand can be different.

So, a size 10 brush from one brand might not be the same size as a size 10 from another brand. Plus, even within the same brand, a size 10 flat brush might look bigger than a size 10 round brush.

And it’s not just about size. Brushes can vary in thickness and shape too. Some might have different bristles or hair combinations to make shapes like filbert or cat’s tongue brushes.

So, in a nutshell, paint brush sizes can be a bit confusing, but once you understand how they work, you’ll be able to choose the right brush for your masterpiece!

Paint Brush Sizes

Paint Brush Sizes

When it comes to paintbrushes, the numbers on them don’t directly represent their actual size. Instead, they’re more like a way to rank them by size.

Different manufacturers have their own interpretations of these numbers, so a “size 6” brush from one brand might be totally different from a “size 6” brush from another.

For instance, a size 10 brush from one brand might not have the same dimensions as a size 10 brush from another brand. This can lead to confusion when buying brushes.

Even within the same brand, brushes of the same size might have different shapes or materials, which affects their overall size and feel.

The numbering system itself isn’t uniform across all brands either. European sizes are different from English sizes, for example.

And sometimes, you might see brushes labeled with additional measurements, like 4/0, which means it’s very small, almost like 1/64 inch or 0.4 mm wide.

When buying brushes, especially online or from brands you’re not familiar with, it’s a good idea to check if they provide actual width measurements in inches or millimeters. That way, you can get a clearer idea of what you’re getting.

Brush sizes usually go from really small (like 20/0 or 12/0) to larger sizes (like 30 or even bigger). But the most common ones are from 000 to 20.

Decorators’ brushes, used for different types of painting, are sized by their width in millimeters or inches, ranging from 10 mm to 100 mm, or 1/8 inch to 4 inches.

How Do I Measure My Brush size?

How Do I Measure My Brush size?

When it comes to measuring your brush size, the number printed on the handle isn’t an exact measurement. It’s more of a general guideline because paintbrush sizes aren’t standardized across manufacturers. 

For precise measurements, here’s what you can do:

  • Brush Length: Measure from the end of the handle to the tip of the brush.
  • Hair Length: Measure from the heel or end of the ferrule to the tip of the brush.
  • Diameter: Measure around the ferrule.
  • Width: For flat brushes, measure the length across the ferrule.

These measurements will give you a better idea of your brush size than just relying on the number printed on the handle.

Things Artists Should Know When Choosing Their Brush

Things Artists Should Know When Choosing Their Brush

Choosing the right paintbrush is like picking the perfect tool for a job. There are different shapes and sizes of brushes, each suited for specific tasks.

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Shapes of Brushes: 
  • Round Brushes: Circular with a pointed tip, great for various strokes.
  • Square Brushes (Bright): Square from one angle, thin from another, ideal for crisp lines.
  • Filbert Brushes: Rounded at the top, versatile for blending and soft edges.
  • Script (Line) Brushes: Long and thin, perfect for delicate details.
  1. Detail Work: 
  • Round Brushes: Excellent for details due to their fine point and varying thickness.
  • Script Brushes: Ideal for intricate lines and tiny details like eyelashes.
  1. Edging: 
  • Square Brushes: Best for creating straight lines and geometric shapes.
  • Match brush size to stroke size for precision.
  1. Blending: 
  • Filbert and Chip Brushes: Great for blending soft edges and creating textures.
  1. Bristle Type: 
  • Natural Bristle: Best for oil paints, softer and longer-lasting.
  • Synthetic Bristle: Ideal for acrylics, doesn’t absorb paint, less durable.
  1. Size Matters: 
  • Use appropriate brush sizes for efficient painting.
  • Don’t use tiny brushes for large areas; let the brush work for you.

Remember, having a variety of brush sizes and types on hand is essential for versatile and efficient painting. Choose brushes based on your medium and the specific needs of your artwork.


Choosing the right paintbrush goes beyond simply looking at the numbers printed on the handle, as actual dimensions can significantly vary between brands and even within the same brand; understanding how to interpret brush sizes by length, hair length, diameter, or width provides a more accurate assessment. 

Moreover, being aware of the diverse shapes and types allows artists to tailor their selection to specific demands like intricate detailing, sharp edges, or smooth blending, while considering bristle type and size ensures optimal performance and longevity. 

So, remember to delve deeper than size numbers when picking up a brush, and let your creativity flow effortlessly. Happy painting!