Best Brush For Polyurethane: Top 4 Picks For A Flawless Finish (2020)

You already have your next project planned out, you stocked up on cans of polyurethane, but you’re still struggling with picking an appropriate brush for polyurethane?

I have you covered!

Today’s guide is all about helping you select the perfect brush for your DIY woodworking projects and achieve a flawless polyurethane finish every single time!

I’ll show you how to recognize a good brush when you see one, help you make an informed purchase decision – and show you some of my favorite ones currently available on the market!

So, let’s get to it!

best brush - minwax wood finish

I won’t go into details, because I’ve already covered the topic in one of my previous articles - How To Apply Polyurethane – instead, I’ll give you a few cardinal rules for applying polyurethane with a brush:

  • Be careful not to overload it, as it could lead to runs and drips.
  • If you want to minimize runs and drips, you should never brush inward towards edges or corners.
  • After you’re done coating the surface, remember to “tip it off” by removing any excess polyurethane and spread it out more evenly with an unloaded brush.
  • Don’t use foam brushes to apply the final coat of finish, as they don’t leave as smooth of a finish as bristle brushes do.

Combine these tips with one of the best brushes for polyurethane listed below, and I’m sure you’ll get amazing results, no matter what project you’re working on at the moment.

Okay, it’s time to check out some of my 2019’s favorites – one of them will surely work for you, too!

My Top 4 Picks of Brush For Polyurethane

Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - Paint Brush Set

If you’re looking for a five-piece set of brushes for your upcoming DIY projects that won’t break the bank, this Pro-Grade set is an excellent place to start.

The set offers a decent assortment of both flat and angled brush sizes, which, combined with the thinner tips they all have, leaves more room for versatility and control.

They’re relatively easy to clean and hold up very well, too, so don’t throw them out when you’re done – I’m sure you’ll get quite a few uses out of them.

Also, I liked the wooden handles paired with stainless steel ferrules – sturdy, easy-to-grip handles are always a plus comfort-wise.


  • Good assortment of brush shapes and sizes
  • Easy to clean and reusable
  • Thinner tips for more cutting control
  • Comfortable wood handles


  • Prone to shedding
  • Noticeable lack of bristles

Presa Premium Paint Brushes Set, 5 Piece

The Presa 5-piece paint brush set has to be one of the most popular brush sets on the market – and with good reason, too:

One of the most important features of these Presa brushes is their Premium solid-rounded-tapered (SRT) filaments – they’re capable of handling any task or project with precision and finesse, as they tend to provide a more even, smooth release.

The brushes come in five different sizes (1, 1 ½, 2, 2 ½, and 3 inches) but don’t worry about mixing them up if you’re a beginner – they’re all conveniently labeled.

They’re easy to clean, as well, so keeping them in a pristine condition after several uses won’t be an issue, either.

Lastly, they are suitable for all sorts of heavy-duty jobs, including rough surfaces, so I’d say these will be your trusted companions in all your woodworking projects, both outdoor and indoor ones!


  • SRT filaments provide an even release
  • Durable and easy to clean
  • Suitable for various heavy-duty jobs


  • They don’t hold paint well

Wooster Brush 3103-2 Foam King Paintbrush, 2-Inch - Best Performing on Coverage

Did you know foam brushes are an option, too?

Wooster changed the game when they introduced their Foam King Paintbrush:

Featuring an open-cell, thick polyurethane foam “head,” paired with a plastic base for added sturdiness most foam brushes tend to lack, a brush like this will give you some much-needed confidence, even if you’re a total DIY beginner.

Moreover, with a foam brush, you don’t have to worry about two of the polyurethane’s worst enemies – visible brush strokes and stray bristles!

Plus, they're super cheap – even if they don't last that long, you can easily replace them without worrying about it affect your budget.


  • Thick, open-cell polyurethane foam
  • Plastic base and handle
  • No risk of stray bristles or visible brush strokes
  • Cheap


  • They’re not long-lasting

Wooster Brush 5222-2 Silver Tip - Best Choice for Your Projects

Sometimes it’s better to invest your money in a single quality brush, than a cheap set of brushes – and that’s why I decided to include this Wooster Silver-Tip Brush in my round-up, as well.

The hardwood handle paired with a stainless steel ferrule makes the brush feel sturdy and well-made, which is something you’ll appreciate if you’re used to working with flimsy brushes.

The CT (chemically tipped) synthetic bristles feel soft and flexible, and super easy to clean.

They hold up surprisingly well, too, with minimal signs of wear and tear. More importantly, they don’t leave any visible brush strokes when used to apply polyurethane!


  • Thin and flexible filaments
  • Doesn’t leave streaks
  • Made from durable materials
  • Holds up well
  • Very easy to clean


  • A bit pricey

Buying Guide When Choosing a Brush for Applying Polyurethane

get right brush when appling polyurethane on the finish wood

Synthetic vs. Natural: Bristle Type

Natural bristles are made from animal hair, which tends to soak up the water, so they work better with oil based polyurethane coatings.

Synthetic, such as nylon or polyester, bristles are generally more durable, which makes them suitable for rough surfaces and water based polyurethane coatings.

Split Ends Are a Good Thing

Both natural and synthetic filaments can feature split – or “flagged” – ends, as they improve the brush’s ability to leave a smooth finish, without compromising stiffness along the way.

Plus, split ends pick up the polyurethane better, which means fewer trips to the container for you!

Choose the Right Width & Style

When deciding on the width and style of the brush for polyurethane, you have to consider the nature of the project at hand:

One to two-inch angled brushes will work best for small areas of application, but if you’re working on a large area, a three to four-inch flat brush is a better option.

Handles Matter, Too

There are several types of brush handles, each of them designed to make specific tasks easier:

Short and compact handles will usually work fine for small woodworking projects, but if you’re planning on taking on a more massive project, make sure that the handle is contoured for a better grip and increased comfort.

Look for Quality, Not Quantity

It can be tempting to go with a cheap starter-pack brush set, but that’s only a good idea if you plan on using different brush sizes regularly.

If not, I recommend investing your money in one quality brush, instead.

Final Verdict

These are all fantastic brushes, but we can only have one winner here – and in my opinion, the Wooster Brush 5222-2 Silver Tip Paintbrush is the best choice for your project.

It does cost a bit more, but it offers an outstanding value for its price – it holds up well, it’s super easy to clean, and you won’t have to worry about finding stray bristles all over the place.

1 Comment
  1. Great article short and precise thank you!

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