10th Feb 2022

In an industry where brushes are sold on ‘the best pick-up’, ‘the best finish’ and ‘the best filaments’, how do we define what actually is the best, and what determines the perfect brush stroke?
How much will the paint brush pick up?
Why is this important?

The amount of paint a brush picks up with each dip will, quite simply, determine how many trips to the bucket you make, and how much paint you use on a surface area.  Both adding up to how quickly you can finish a job and how much paint you use.

But (there’s always a but) this should not necessarily be the main consideration for choosing a brush. Sarah Coussens, Hamilton Brand Manager, explains.

“We see, time and time again, brushes being promoted as having ‘the best paint pick-up’ – whilst this is an important factor in brush design it certainly doesn’t make a great brush, not on its own.”

“A brush may well pick-up a lot of paint with every dip, but what happens when it goes onto the wall? You will get a large volume of paint onto the surface initially, but then lose it very quickly throughout the brush’s stroke.”

What this means, Sarah continues, is that you need to spend a lot more time smoothing out the paint to avoid tramlines, and also, ironically, end up using more paint to do so. 

Hannah Jones, International Product Manager for the UK, adds that:

when testing brush performance we measure the steady release of paint alongside initial paint pick-up.  This gives a much clearer result when looking at how a brush paints onto a surface.


Hamilton use a simple ‘5 Stroke test’ to show the quite substantial difference between a brush that simply offers ‘good pick-up’ and a brush that delivers good pick-up with a measured release. See the results for yourself!

Filament splaying
How does this influence control?

Any professional decorator will know that splaying filaments are a nightmare for getting a clean, controlled edge – they are also partly to blame for tramlines. There’s nothing like a rogue filament to ruin a good brush stroke!

It’s important to find a high specification, fine filament to deliver that sought-after precision.

Sarah adds:

Also look for a filament with good ‘bend recovery’ – this will allow you to get that good, clean edge.

Hamilton trials and insight have found that the combination of good bend recovery and a comfortable handle will see better control and precision.

Have Hamilton found the formula for success?

“Every brush is different and every user is different” says Sarah, “but we have certainly determined a ‘formula’ for a better brush stroke”.


Hamilton advises to always take into consideration how a brush releases paint, alongside how much it picks up.  A large volume of paint straight onto the wall means more time smoothing over, more trips to the paint kettle, and most likely, tramlines.

Hamilton Decorating Tools have a history spanning over 250 years, and have accumulated extensive knowledge and expertise about the painting and decorating industry. They continually use this knowledge to develop great products through insight, innovation and changing needs.  Remember – today’s paints have changed, and your tools must change along with them.

Lets Get Social

Share photos of your work #MyHamilton