The best acrylic paintbrushes are an essential investment if you're painting with acrylics. Brushes for the medium come in both synthetic and natural hair, but the best paintbrushes for acrylics are usually synthetic since synthetic brushes are tougher and can cope well with acrylic paints, which can be hard on brushes as is very difficult to clean off once dry.
Our guide below covers our pick of the best acrylic brushes, for both beginner and professional artists with different working approaches. We've tried out each brush and used them with different acrylic paints to test their quality, durability and versatility.
You want to make sure that you also use the best acrylic paints, whether they're student or professional paints. and you might want to learn about. You might also want to learn more about the differences between acrylics vs oils. And if you like to start your paintings with a drawing, the best watercolour pencils will ensure you can avoid muddying the paint while allowing you to add details that are too fine to paint in. The best easels are also important for supporting your work, especially for larger pieces.
The best acrylic paintbrushes
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Princeton’s Aspen brushes are an excellent synthetic substitute for hog hair brushes, and they suit acrylics as well as oils. As they are designed to emulate hog hair, they are very springy and much firmer than other synthetics. However, they're not as scratchy as hog, and I find they feel smoother laying down paint.
These brushes are more likely to leave brushstrokes, so they're the best acrylic brushes for a more textured approach, and they're easily robust enough to handle heavy acrylic paint and mediums. They're also a good choice if you prefer more expressive brushwork as they're quite hardwearing.
Winsor and Newton’s Monarch brushes are a synthetic version of an animal hair brush that does a good job of emulating the feel of mongoose hair. Compared to natural hair, these brushes have a little extra firmness, which helps with pushing thicker paint around, but they're still quite soft.
They're very high quality and they hold their shape well, which I found results in a nice, crisp edge when painting. It's easy to blend paint smoothly with these brushes as well. The bristles are tightly packed, helping the brush retain its shape and hold plenty of paint. These are the best acrylic brushes for responsive blending and detail work.
Pro Art’s Acrylix brushes offer a solid, mid-range synthetic brush that's a little firmer than most, but still soft enough to blend paint well. It has a smooth feel when painting, rather than being springy, and I've found that they don't leave much in the way of brushstrokes.
As synthetic brushes go, I find these to be quite durable. The brush tip comes to quite a fine point and holds its shape. I also found these brushes surprisingly good at holding paint, which combined with the long handles, made it easier to pull longer brush strokes. They're the best acrylic brushes for anyone looking for a smooth painting surface, and they offer great quality for their price.
Royal and Langnickel’s Majestic brushes are mostly aimed at watercolourists, but they're definitely robust enough to handle acrylics. They are a little firmer than most synthetic brushes, but they're still flexible and come to a fine point. This makes them excellent for adding small details.
For their price, this range tends to run a little bit on the small side. However, the brushes are quite hardwearing, and the large sizes hold their shape especially well. This makes them strong enough to deal with thicker paint, though they perform well with washes too. I find these to be the best acrylic brushes for all-around use, suiting a variety of painting approaches.
Liquitex’s basics brushes are aimed at students, but they have a more professional feel than most student brushes. For a start, they have a long handle, which is useful for more expressive mark-making. The bristles are quite soft and suit a smooth application of paint. This softness makes them less suitable for use with very thick paint or mediums.
Over time these brushes can start to lose their shape, and they aren’t likely to last as long as more professional ranges. All in all, though, this is a great brush range for keen students and anyone looking for an affordable long-handed brush range.
Royal Langnickel’s soft grip brushes are a great cheap-and-cheerful option for anyone starting out. These brushes are affordable and typically perform well for their price range, being decent choice for making clean strokes. The bristles are quite soft, and the soft grip is comfortable to hold.
Whilst they don’t hold as much paint as other brands, they typically come back to a decent point after cleaning, and they're flexible enough to feel quite responsive. I find they tend not to last as long as pricier brushes but they're a great brush for acrylics for students and beginners.
How should I clean the best acrylic paintbrushes?
Whichever paintbrushes you choose to use, it's important to clean your brushes thoroughly after use. Acrylic paints can be particularly hard on paintbrushes and they're difficult to clean off once dry. Whilst a lot of brushes suitable for oils work with acrylics, both are hard on brushes in different ways. Cleaning undiluted acrylic paint from brushes is similar to oil paint, but you just use water rather than spirit or oils.
Clean off as much paint as you can using a clean cloth or paper towel by wrapping the cloth around the ferrule of the brush and squeezing it with your thumb and forefinger. Work up towards the end of the bristles and repeat as many times as you need. You can use water in a jar or brush-washer to clean as much paint as you can from the bristles, and then use a brush cleaner for a thorough clean (see our complete guide to how to clean paintbrushes for recommendations).
What brush should I use for acrylic paint?
Generally, the best paintbrushes for acrylics are synthetic rather than natural brushes since the former are tougher so they can cope better with the medium. All of our choices in our picks of the best acrylic paintbrushes are synthetic – some emulate the feel of natural hair but offer a firmer brush.
When working with acrylics, we recommend using a selection of different shape and size brushes – large brushes are useful for applying broad areas of colour quickly. Brush texture is worth considering too. Soft brushes suit blending and produce a smoother paint surface, while firmer brushes leave expressive marks and produce more textured effects.