A close-up of a latte sitting on a polyurethane-coated wooden table\

Polyurethane can add a smooth, glass-like finish to your wooden surfaces, among others. If you’re looking to apply a polyurethane coating within the interior or exterior of your home, you might be wondering how you can apply it yourself.

One of the most important things is to make sure you are using the best brush to apply polyurethane. This article will help you find the best brush for polyurethane by covering the following:

Before we get into the best brushes to apply polyurethane, let’s dive into what kind of brush to use for polyurethane. If you also want to explore brushes for stain, check out the best brushes for staining wood.

 

How to choose the best type of brush for polyurethane

If you’re new to DIY painting, you might be wondering what kind of brush works for polyurethane. There are a variety of things to consider when choosing the best paint brush for polyurethane.

What’s the best paint brush material for polyurethane?

The material that your paint brush is made of can have an impact on the application of polyurethane. Here are some options:

  • Natural: Allows for more absorbency and a smoother finish with oil-based products like polyurethane.
  • Synthetic: Better able to retain stiffness and hold its form while delivering smooth and even coverage.
  • Foam: Super absorbent and releases paint well, helping you achieve full coverage in less time.

What’s the best paint brush size for polyurethane?

The size of the brush you select is dependent on the specific project you’re working on. These are the best sizes to use when painting with polyurethane:

  • 1.5-inch to 2.5-inch brush: Best option for smaller projects and touch-ups.
  • 4-inch mini roller: Great for speeding up smaller, flat-surfaced projects.
  • 6-inch roller: Likely the largest size you’d want to use on wooden surfaces.
  • ⅜-inch or smaller roller nap: Ideal for projects with little to no texture.
  • ½-inch or larger roller nap: Works best when working with textured or rough surfaces.

What’s the best paint brush style for polyurethane?

Finding a brush with the best style for your project will assist you in applying polyurethane. Here are the styles you should match to your project:

  • Angular sash: Slanted bristles that help with cutting-in and trim.
  • Trim: A flat brush ideal for large, flat surfaces.
  • Flat sash: Level bristles that help cover flat areas.
  • Wall: Thick bristles that help you cover large surface areas in less time.

What’s the best paint brush end type for polyurethane?

In addition to the style, the ends of your brush can also affect how you apply polyurethane. These are the end types that work best for polyurethane projects:

  • Angled bristles: Brush is cut on a slant to make applying smooth lines easier.
  • Angled foam brush: Foam has an angled tip to assist in application.
  • Square trim bristles: Cut in the shape of a square to help with covering large, flat areas.
  • Round-ended roller: Roller covers that are rounded at the ends to help eliminate lines.

 

Best way to paint polyurethane without leaving marks

As with any DIY project, it’s important to take your time and learn how to get the best results. Here are some tips on how to apply polyurethane without leaving marks.

  • Use quality tools — Purchase high-quality brushes to ensure they do what they should and don’t compromise your work.
  • Check the weather — If working outside, double check the forecast so you don’t get caught in the rain or humidity.
  • Sand the wood — Eliminating the old and smoothing the surface will help the polyurethane stick better and look great.
  • Clean the area — Dirt and debris can show up in polyurethane, so use water or a vacuum to clean your project and the surrounding area.
  • Wipe away dust — To double check your project doesn’t have any dust that might appear in the polyurethane, use a clean cloth with mineral spirits to remove it.
  • Use only what you need — Make sure to remove excess polyurethane from your brush or roller before applying, otherwise you could end up with blotches, drips, and uneven coverage.
  • Perfect your technique — Stand a comfortable distance from your project, hold your tools properly, and master proper brushstrokes to get the best looking results.
  • Don’t stop midway — Finish each individual surface before stopping for a break, otherwise you could cause layering or uneven coverage.

 

Best way to paint polyurethane: brush, roller, or spray?

Whether to use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply polyurethane depends on your specific projects and your desired outcome. Brushes are best suited to small projects and cutting-in. They also allow for the most precision and can help you achieve the most coverage. Rollers are great at speeding up the process on larger, flat projects and can help you achieve a smooth, even finish. Sprayers are definitely the fastest of the three and can also give you great coverage, but they’re less predictable and can get messy.

A close-up of a fabric paint roller sitting on a can lid

Choose a brush if…

  • You’re working on a small project.
  • You want to prioritize caution over speed.
  • You need to cover the spots other paint tools missed.

Choose a roller if…

  • You’re covering a large, flat surface.
  • You want a blend of speed and quality.
  • You want to pair it with a brush for optimal results.

Choose a spray if…

  • You’re working with a large surface or multiple surfaces.
  • You want to speed up the process.
  • You don’t mind extra prep or cleaning time if things get messy.

 

10 best paint brushes for polyurethane

Even with a list of criteria, you still have many options when looking for a paint brush for polyurethane. To help you narrow down your choices, here are our recommendations for the best brushes for polyurethane.

1. Wooster Silver Tip Angle Sash Paint Brush

Wooster Silver Tip Angle Sash Brush
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $19.06

Type: Brush

Quantity: 1

Size: 2.5-inch

Material: CT polyester

Best Feature: Softness

For a paint brush guaranteed to give you a mark-free finish, opt for the Wooster Silver Tip Angle Sash Paint Brush. This brush is made with soft bristles that will help you achieve your desired finish. It’s also made of durable materials, so it will last a long time.

2. Purdy White Dove Jumbo Mini Roller Covers

Purdy White Dove Jumbo Mini Roller Covers
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $10.39

Type: Roller

Quantity: 2

Size: ⅜-inch nap, 4.5-inch length

Material: Woven Dralon

Best Feature: Smooth finish

For rollers with great value and quality, you need the Purdy White Dove Jumbo Mini Roller Covers. This 2-pack contains roller covers made of microfiber material that will help you achieve a smooth, lint-free finish. It’s also the perfect size and shape for protecting hard to reach places.

3. Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer

Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $334.44

Type: Spray

Quantity: 1

Size: 7.26 kg

Best Feature: Easy to use

The Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer is a great choice if you want to use a sprayer to apply your polyurethane. This sprayer lets you easily adjust the pressure, so you can achieve your desired coverage. It is also easy to clean and even lets you spray polyurethane directly from the can.

4. Wooster Foam King Paint Brush

Wooster Foam King Paint Brush
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $8.57

Type: Brush

Quantity: 1

Size: 1.5-inch

Material: Polyurethane foam

Best Feature: Smooth finish

If you’re looking for a foam brush for polyurethane, try the Wooster Foam King Paint Brush. This brush is super absorbent and releases paint well, giving you the smooth coverage you desire. It’s handle is also specially designed to allow for flexibility and control.

5. Wooster Lambswool/100 Roller Cover

Wooster Lambswool/100 Roller Cover
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $13.99

Type: Roller

Quantity: 1

Size: ½-inch nap, 9-inch length

Material: Natural lambswool

Best Feature: Consistency

The Wooster Lambswool/100 Roller Cover is a great choice for rolling polyurethane. It’s made of natural lambswool, allowing you to apply full coverage in less time. It’s also made of durable materials that allow for you to reuse it many times.

6. HomeRight Super Finish Max Sprayer

HomeRight Super Finish Max Sprayer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $125.02

Type: Spray

Quantity: 1

Size: 1.5 kg

Best Feature: Affordable

For a more affordable sprayer, check out the HomeRight Super Finish Max Sprayer. This sprayer has a variety of settings, so you can get your desired output. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and great for a variety of projects.

7. Purdy Ox-O-Angular Trim Brush

Purdy Ox-O-Angular Angular Trim Brush
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $30.66

Type: Brush

Quantity: 1

Size: 2-inch

Material: Ox hair and white China bristle blend

Best Feature: Softness

The Purdy Ox-O-Angular Trim Brush is another super soft brush. Made of ox hair and white China bristle, this brush will help give you that mark-free finish you desire. The brush is also made with quality materials that keep it resilient and up-to-task.

8. FoamPRO Fine Finisher Roller

FoamPRO Fine Finish Roller
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $8.05

Type: Roller

Quantity: 1

Size: 6-inch length

Material: High-density foam

Best Feature: Quality

If you’d like to try using a foam roller to apply polyurethane, the FoamPRO Fine Finisher Roller is a great option. It’s made with a quality foam that will help you achieve smooth, lint-free coverage and a beautiful finish. It works especially well on doors, cabinets, and floors.

9. Graco Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer

Graco Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $421

Type: Spray

Quantity: 1

Size: 6.8

Best Feature: Versatility

Also from Graco, the Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer offers quality and variety. This sprayer is easy to adjust to your desired outflow. It also prevents clogs and is easy to clean.

10. Wooster Softip Angle Sash Paint Brush

Wooster Softip Angle Sash Paint Brush
(Image credit: Amazon.ca)

Price: $4.11

Type: Brush

Quantity: 1

Size: 2-inch

Material: Nylon-Polyester

Best Feature: Value

For a quality brush at a great price, check out the Wooster Softip Angle Sash Paint Brush. This brush is designed to help you achieve an even finish while maintaining control. It’s also constructed of quality materials that keep it resistant to wear and tear.

 

Now that you know everything about paint brushes for polyurethane, it’s time to get started on your project. If you think you’d prefer to hire a professional instead, the City Painters are here to help. Contact us here or give us a call for a quote.

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