The best acrylic paintbrushes will help you get the most out of your acrylics and create beautiful art. My selection features brushes that are all sturdy, easy to clean and versatile, making them perfect for this kind of media.
While these brushes are all good choices for acyrlics in general, the one that will suit you best will depend on your specific needs. So to help you out, we've identified the best acrylic paintbrushes for different levels of expertise and experience, as well as the best for specific art tasks.
You'll want to also ensure that you have the best acrylic paints, of course. Plus if you're still to decide on a medium, see our guide to the differences between acrylics vs oils, and check out the best watercolour pencils, too. Finally, you might want to consider one of the best easels to support your work.
The best acrylic paintbrushes
Firmness: very firm
I find these excellent synthetic substitutes for hog hair to be very springy and much firmer than others while not as scratchy as hog. They feel smoother laying down paint. These are likely to leave brushstrokes, making them the best acrylic brushes for a textured approach, and they're robust enough to handle heavy paint and mediums and expressive brushwork.
Best to emulate natural hair
Firmness: quite soft
These synthetic brushes do a good job of emulating mongoose hair. They have a little extra firmness, which helps push thicker paint around, but they're still quite soft. The bristles are tightly packed, holding their shape well, which results in a nice, crisp edge. I find these to be the best acrylic paintbrushes for responsive blending and detail work.
Best value acrylic paintbrushes
This solid, mid-range brush is a little firmer than most but soft enough to blend well. They have a smooth feel, rather than springy and don't leave much of a stroke. The tip comes to a fine point and holds its shape. They're also surprisingly good at holding paint, which combined with the long handles, helps to pull longer strokes with precision.
Best for fine details
Though aimed at watercolourists, these are robust enough as paintbrushes for acrylic paint. They're a little firmer than most synthetic brushes, but still flexible and come to a fine point – excellent for adding fine details. For their price, this range runs a little on the small side, but they're quite hardwearing, and the large sizes hold their shape especially well.
Best for students
Firmness: quite soft
These have a more professional feel than most student acrylic brushes. They have a long handle – useful for more expressive mark-making and the bristles are quite soft for a smooth application of paint. This makes them less suitable for use for textural work with very thick paint or mediums. Over time they can start to lose shape.
Best for beginners
Firmness: quite soft
These brushes are a great cheap-and-cheerful option for anyone starting. A decent choice for 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.
What brush should I use for acrylic paint?
Generally, the best paintbrushes for acrylic paint are synthetic rather than natural brushes since synthetic brushes 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.
How should I clean the best acrylic paintbrushes?
Whichever option you choose as the best paintbrushes for acrylics for you, 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).
How often should I replace my acrylic paintbrushes?
Brushes don't last forever, and will eventually need to be replaced. However, with proper care, your acrylic paintbrushes can last for years. So it's less a question of how long you should leave it and more about keeping an eye on the state of your brush. Signs that your paintbrushes need to be replaced include split or frayed bristles, loss of elasticity and difficulty holding paint.
How to choose the best acrylic paintbrushes
When you're choosing the best acrylic paintbrush for you, there are a couple of key factors to consider. First pay attention to the bristles. Acrylic paint can be hard on brushes as its texture means it's tricky to clean off once dry, plus you want your brushes to last. So although you can buy brushes with natural hair, the best brushes for acrylic paint are normally synthetic because they're tougher.
Also think about shape and size. Flat brushes are great for covering large areas and applying base coats. Round brushes are a good choice for details, blending, and controlled lines. Filbert brushes (flat with rounded edges) are useful for blending and creating smooth curves. Angle brushes are ideal for sharp lines and edges. And fan brushes are good for creating textured effects and foliage.
How we test the best acrylic paintbrushes
Below, I've selected the best acrylic paintbrushes based my own experience as an artist. I've tested each of these brush options with a range of acrylic paints and different approaches to evaluate their performance, durability and versatility. Based on my testing, I've picked out options above that I think are suitable for artists with different levels and styles.