What Are Chip Brushes Used For?

Last Updated on September 2, 2020 by

Chip brushes are used for painting small places or corners that a paintbrush cannot fit well. They are used with most solvents since they don’t melt like regular paintbrushes. They can be used with glue, resin, epoxy, paint remover, cleaners, and oils. A chip brush is inexpensive and can be tossed after one use.

Chip brushes were initially designed to clean machines and remove chips on them, thus the name. These brushes have a comfortable wooden handle that is easy to hold for long hours of painting. Chip brushes are made of natural china bristles that hold up solvents quite well. If you need to clean up something or apply sticky solvents without having to clean up, then chip brushes are the way to go. Chip brushes are also the best type of brushes for chalk painting on flat surfaces since they don’t leave streaks.

What is the difference between a chip brush and a paintbrush?

The main difference between a paintbrush and a chip brush is the size. Chip brushes are generally smaller than regular paint brushes to allow them to fit in tight spots and corners. Chip brushes have natural bristles that cannot be melted by solvents, while most paintbrushes have synthetic bristles.

Can I use a chip brush to apply polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a popular and tough clear coating that’s used to protect wood from scratches and other harsh conditions. You can use a chip brush to apply oil-based polyurethane since it is made with natural bristles.

Can I apply chalk paint with a chip brush?

Yes, you can. If your desired output with chalk paint is a uniform and smooth finish, then a brush with natural and flexible bristles is the best. A chip brush gives a smooth finish when you apply chalk paint in uniform strokes.

How to choose the right brush for any project

Whether you want to paint or apply a coating, choosing a brush that is the right size, shape, and material can be daunting. We consulted a professional painter and got advice on how to choose the best brush for any project. Here are some tips for you from our consultation:

  1. Choose the right size of brush

 Brushes are manufactured in different heights and widths, and you need to know the brush that goes well with your specific project. While its almost impossible to master what each size of brush does, you can consult at your crafts store before making a purchase. A small brush is easier to control when you’re looking for precision. For varnishing or painting woodwork, choose a small chip brush that’s about 1.5 inches wide. For walls and large flat surfaces, you need at least a 3-inch brush for best cut in painting.

2. Choose bristles according to your project

Now that you already have an idea of the size you are looking for, its time to narrow down to the bristles. You can choose either synthetic or natural bristles, depending on the finishing you want and solvent you are using. A brush can be made of natural bristles such as black or white china or ox hair blend; some are even made of animal fur. The solvent type will determine the type of bristles you choose and whether your paint or varnish is oil-based or water-based. For oil-based paints and varnishes, a brush with natural bristles will give a smooth finish. For water-based varnish or paint, synthetic bristles are best since they don’t soak up water like natural bristles. Synthetic bristles are made from nylon, polyester, or Chinex. These brushes are easy to clean and have the right balance between smoothness and stiffness, resulting in a clean finish.

3. Consider the shape of your brush’s tip

Your project type should guide you on the right shape of brush tip. Some brushes have an angled tip, while others have squared or flat tips. Angled brushes are best for a cut in type of painting or paint trimming. They give a smooth and seamless edge to your paintwork. For wide and flat surfaces, a flat or square-edged brush gives a perfect finish.

4. Quality of the brush

For chip brushes that you’ll use just once then toss in the trash, quality isn’t a major consideration. If you are building your collection of brushes for your DIY projects, then you need a quality brush. There’s nothing as disheartening as having to remove fallen bristles from paint or sticky glue. Find brushes that are glued into the handle as opposed to just being crimped by a metal since this type doesn’t come off quickly.

How to maintain and clean your brushes

Unless you are using a cheap brush that you intend to throw away, you want your brush to serve you for ages. To keep using your brushes for a variety of projects and still get amazing results, you need to keep them clean and store them properly. Here are some tips for storing your brush in between uses and after you’re done painting:

  1. When storing your brush in between uses, look if your paint pail has a magnet on the side that holds your brush and allows it to remain in the paint. If your pail doesn’t come with a magnet, dip only a third of your brush in paint and leave it there until next use.
  2. For storing your brushes overnight, wrap them in cling film to keep them from drying and fraying. You can also submerge your brush in thinner or water, depending on the type of paint you are using to keep the paint from drying.
  3. For extended storage time, you need to clean your brush until it looks as good as new before storing it. To do this, remove excess paint on the brush then clean it with a suitable solvent. Ensure you safely dispose of the solvent then wash your brush with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. Dry your brush and run a paintbrush comb through the bristles to realign them. Wrap your brush in newspapers and secure them with adhesive tape, and your brush is safe to store for months.


If you love DIY projects, then I bet you have a variety of brushes, including chip brushes and paintbrushes in a variety of sizes. Knowing how to use and care for your brush is a great way to ensure you get the most out of them.

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