From Academic Kids

Different styles of paintbrushes
Different styles of paintbrushes

The term brush refers to a variety of devices mainly with bristles, wire or other filament of any possible material used mainly for cleaning, grooming hair, painting, deburring and other kinds of surface finishing, but also for many other purposes like (but not limited to) seals, alternative traction systems and any other use imaginable for this tool. In the industry it is possible to find many configurations such as twisted in wire (like the ones used to wash baby feeding bottles), cylinders, disks (with bristles spread in one face or radially) or in any other shape needed. There are many ways of setting the bristle in the brush: the most common is the staple or anchor set brush, in which the filament is forced with a staple by the middle into a hole with a special driver and held there by the pressure against the walls of the hole and the portions of the staple nailed to the bottom of the hole. The staple can be substituted with a kind of anchor, which is a piece of rectangular profile wire that, instead of nailing itself to the bottom of hole, is anchored to the wall of the hole, like in most toothbrushes. Another way to set the bristles to the surface can be found in the fused brush, in which instead of being inserted into a hole, a plastic fiber is welded to another plastic surface, giving the additional advantage of optionally using different diameters of tufts in the same brush, and a considerably thinner surface (sometimes the bristles can be set this way to the outer surface of a plastic bottle!).

See below for some other common kinds of brushes.

Brushes for cleaning

Brushes used for cleaning come in various forms and sizes, such as very small brushes for cleaning a fine instrument, toothbrushes, the larger household version that usually comes with a dustpan, or the broomstick . Some brushes, usually used for professional cleaning could be even bigger, like some hallbrooms, used for cleaning wider areas. A very important usage of cleaning brushes can be found in the industry. Thousands of different cleaning brushes can be found in the food industry like brushes for cleaning vegetables, washing glass, or even other special uses like finishing tiles or even sanding doors for example. Those brushes are unique ones, made specially for a given machine by the manufacturer of the machines or a few special companies dedicated to make custom designs.

Paint brushes

Paint brushes are used for applying ink or paint. These are usually made by clamping the bristles to a handle with a ferrule.

Paint brush can also refer to the digital equivalent one would find in a bitmap graphics editor, i.e. a virtual brush that can modify a digital picture.

Paint brushes can have three shapes:

  • Round: The long, closely arranged bristles of these brushes enable them to hold more paint than other similarly sized but differently shaped brushes. This is why many artists prefer them for painting large areas and for color washes.
  • Flat: These spread paint well
  • Fan-shaped: These mix paint well.

Brush care

  • Paint must be cleaned from brushes immediately after use. This is especially true for oil and acrylic paint because removing dry, set residue can take bristles off or ruin a brush's shape.
  • Never leave brushes bristle-end down in a container of water, turpentine, or any other solvent (if you want to clean them, do it by hand or with a wet cloth). This is because the bristles of the brush spread out against the bottom of the container and, will, if left too long, set that way (like hair).

Sizes and materials

Decorators' brushes

The sizes of brushes used for painting and decorating, usually given in mm or inches, refer to the width of the head.

Common sizes are:

  • ⅛ in,  in, ⅜ in,  in, ⅝ in,  in, ⅞ in, 1 in, 1 in, 1 in, 2 in, 2 in, 3 in, 3 in, 4 in.
  • 10 mm, 20 mm, 30 mm, 40 mm, 50 mm, 60 mm, 70 mm, 80 mm, 90 mm, 100 mm.

Bristles may be natural or synthetic.

Handles may be wood or plastic; ferrules are metal (usually nickel-plated steel).

Artists' brushes

Artists' brushes are usually given numbered sizes, although there is no exact standard for their physical dimensions.

From smallest to largest, the sizes are:

  • 7/0 (also written 0000000), 6/0, 5/0, 4/0, 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30.

Sizes 000 to 20 are most common.

Bristles may be natural -- either soft hair or hog bristle -- or synthetic.

  • Soft hair brushes are made from Kolinsky sable or ox hair (sabeline); or more rarely, squirrel, pony, goat, or badger. Cheaper hair is sometimes called camel hair... but doesn't come from camels.
  • Hog bristle is stiffer and stronger than soft hair. It may be bleached or unbleached.
  • Synthetic bristles are made of special multi-diameter extruded nylon filament.

Artists' brush handles are commonly wooden, but the cheapest brushes may have moulded plastic handles. Many mass-produced handles are made of unfinished raw wood; better quality handles are of seasoned hardwood. The wood is sealed and lacquered to give the handle a high-gloss, waterproof finish that reduces soiling and swelling.

Metal ferrules may be of aluminum, nickel, copper, or nickel-plated steel. Quill ferrules are also found: these give a different "feel" to the brush.

Landscapes and golf

Brush can also refer to untamed grassy areas, as well as so-called "Transitional Zones"—areas between canopy forests and field type habitats.

In golf, it is synonymous with the "rough"—the area outside the fairway.

Computer graphics

Additionally, in 3D computer game development, brushes are the solid polyhedrons that make up the level geometry.


In electric technology, it is often necessary to make an electrically conductive connection between a stationary wire and a moving part, most commonly a rotating shaft. Most importantly, in an electric motor, an alternator or electric generator, the coils of the rotor have to be connected. To accomplish this, two metal (copper or brass) 'slip rings' are affixed on the shaft and springs press braided copper wire 'brushes' onto the rings which conduct the current. Later, these copper wire brushes were replaced with carbon blocks — but these blocks are still called brushes. As the brushes are slowly abrased they might have to be replaced, provided this is possible at all.

If the copper rings are split in parts with "interlaced" connections, the arrangement is called a commutator.


A large, bushy tail of an animal (particularly a fox) is sometimes called a brush.


Brush, Colorado is a town in the eo:Peniko fa:قلم‌مو fr:Pinceau nl:Penseel ja:筆


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