Top 5 Best Brush for Water Based Polyurethane of [2023]

Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Heenan

Water-based polyurethane is a special kind of varnish designed to be more environment-friendly.

Because it is water-based and not oil-based, the coating is a bit thinner. It would be best if you had several coats of varnish to reach the endpoint.

Because you will be applying the coats over one another, you want each top coat to be streak-free and smooth.

The brush for polyurethane is the tool that plays an essential role in achieving this flawless coating.

No matter what brand of varnish you use, you won’t get your desired finish without the help of the best brush for water-based polyurethane.

So if you want to know more about how to get your hands on the perfect brush for your varnish, keep reading about the best brush for polyurethane.

Best Brush for Water Based Polyurethane

Best Brush for Water-Based Polyurethane

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If you can’t seem to get yourself a decent brush for your water-based polyurethane, don’t worry!

We’ve got you covered. Below, we have listed some of the high-quality brushes we love for water-based polyurethane.

#1. Purdy 144324335 XL Series Pip Enamel/Wall Paint Brush Review


  • It can be used for both water-based polyurethane and paint
  • Copper ferrule keeps the brush for polyurethane together for a longer time
  • It comes with a waterproof and ventilated keeper
  • Classic hardwood handle that does not crack or break
  • The synthetic bristles don’t scratch the wood
  • Easy to use
  • High performance


  • The wooden handle is prone to getting stains

Purdy is a brand in the market for quite a while now. They gained popularity for being a good choice for interior work.

All the high-quality brushes for polyurethane that this brand contains are hand-crafted. Although these are synthetic bristles, they are not too harsh.

The best brush for polyurethane is stiff enough to give you a better payoff without scratching off the surface of the wood.

The bristles are also very flexible. No matter how much you move around, they will always return to their initial position. It won’t lose its structure.

To help that process even more, this best brush for polyurethane comes with a keeper. So when you wash and dry this brush, you can store it in the keeper so that it doesn’t fray out or lose its shape.

This keeper comes with a wax layer, preventing water from penetrating the brush.

A ventilated structure like this one also reduces the chances of mold or fungus growth. Classic hardwood handles on the brush for polyurethane make working for long hours bearable.

The handles are sturdy. They don’t have a reputation for breaking too quickly.


This brush for polyurethane is a must-have if you’re tired of having to buy new high-quality brushes for polyurethane now and then.

And this one will stick with you for a long, long time. If you can wash this brush for polyurethane properly and store it in a cool, dry place, this brush will serve you for years.

#2. Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled


  • Great if you don’t want brushstroke marks
  • Made with high-quality open-cell thick foam
  • Does not absorb excess product
  • Great for applying thin but full-coverage coats
  • Easy to use


  • Sponges don’t last as long as brushes for polyurethane do

Are we surprised to see foam brushes on our list of high-quality brushes for polyurethane? Yes, we usually don’t recommend cloth or foams of any sort for the application of water-based polyurethane.

But we can’t get over how well this foam performs!

Made with high-quality open-cell thick foam, this tool is unique. Unlike most other foam brushes on the market, this one does not absorb all the polyurethane. It stays stiff and acts as a carrier for the varnish.

When in touch, the varnish is transferred to the wood in a thin, smooth, and bump-free layer.

Once the first coat has dried, you can use the same brush to apply another coat without lifting any previous products—no need to wash the brush for polyurethane in between layers.

If you can’t get brush stroke marks out from your wood, this is the option.

It is a foolproof way to get a smooth coating of polyurethane on wood. No bristles mean no brush-stroke marks.

You can use the foam brush for both paint and varnish. This tool will give you excellent coverage—no need to go over the same area repeatedly.


We agree that these won’t last you that long. But the short period you’ll get with these will be worth it.

Say goodbye to patchy layers of polyurethane. Now you can get an even coat in just one stroke.

#3. Wooster Brush 5221-2 1/2 5221-2-1/2 Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush


  • It can be used for both oil-based and water-based polyurethane
  • Chisel trim polyester silver and white bristles
  • No shedding
  • Stainless-steel ferrule
  • Long brush for polyurethane handle for more speed
  • Easy to use


  • Not the cheapest option

Investing in a brush that is a bit more expensive sure does have its perks. This one from Wooster might be just a bit over budget, but the quality is uncompromised.

The biggest advantage of this best brush for polyurethane is that you can use this for both oil-based and water-based polyurethane.

The bristles on this brush are smooth enough to carry the weight of an oil-based varnish but also sturdy enough to give not to absorb any of the water-based varnishes.

This silver and white bristle can handle anything made from chisel trim polyester. Having a two-in-one polyurethane brush like his one sure can come in handy!

The stainless steel ferrule that it features is also remarkable. It holds the bristles in place firmly.

There are no chances of shedding. This ferrule is also rut-resistant and waterproof.

So no matter how often you wash this brush with polyurethane, you won’t cause any damage to it.

A long brush handle can make your job easier and faster. Get your polyurethane coating done in half the usual time.

A longer handle also gives you more control and posture. So your strokes are more even in nature. This is the brush for polyurethane you want if you work on large-sized wood projects.


We highly suggest you get this brush if you can squeeze it into your budget. The brush for polyurethane performs excellently with both oil-based and water-based polyurethane.

A long and proud handle makes your job faster. This handle also won’t break or shatter any time soon.

#4. Wooster Brush 4IN P3974-4 Factory Sale Polyester Paintbrush Review


  • Big brush for large projects
  • Chisel trim and gold polyester bristles that are soft but firm
  • Brass-plated ferrule keeps the bristles from shedding
  • Long black handles that don’t get stained easily
  • Great if you want your task done faster


  • It holds too many products

If you work on large pieces of wood, you know how annoying working with smaller brushes for polyurethane can get.

It would be best if you had more time, and the brush also couldn’t get the job done right. If this is a problem you face, we recommend this model from Wooster.

This is a wide brush for polyurethane that you can use on large pieces of wood. The wide bristle structure can reach places faster. So you can cut your work time in half.

The bristles are made of chisel trim and gold polyester. So you can use the best brush for polyurethane for oil- and water-based polyurethane. Even with long use, the brush won’t absorb any products.

A brass-plated steel ferrule keeps these high-quality bristles in place. They won’t shred or tear. This ferrule is also water-resistant, so you can soak the brush in water when washing without worrying.

Long handles are always better. They help you finish your task even faster. Because this handle is black, the handle does not get any stains.

So the polyurethane brush will keep looking brand new for a longer time.


You need this big brush if you have to work with wood daily, especially if these wood projects are large!

The brush holds many products, so you might have trouble getting thin coats. But if you’re experienced enough, that shouldn’t be a problem. Just wipe away the excess, and you’re good to go!

#5. Pro Grade – Paint Brushes for polyurethane – 5 Ea Review


  • Ergonomic design; can be used for long hours without getting cramps
  • Set of five that includes a variety of sizes
  • Wooden handles that last forever
  • Thinner tips give your work more precision


  • Some found the bristles to be too coarse

Getting a whole set of quality brushes for polyurethane at this price is a deal no one wants to miss!

This set is a perfect addition to a workstation for everyone who loves working with wood, whether it is professionally or for fun.

In the set, you get five brushes for polyurethane. One with a 2-inch stubby angle, 1-inch flat brush, 1-1/2 inch brush, 2-inch flat, and 2-1/2 inch flat brush.

A great variety of sizes! So whether you’re working on a large or small project, you’ll always have a brush around for polyurethane.

The smaller brushes in this set are excellent for details. They can be used for isolated work. The larger ones, on the other hand, cover a large area and get the job done quicker.

Solid wood handles in this set are made to last forever. They are of a lighter color, so that they might get stained. But other than that, these won’t crack or break so easily.

A great thing about these handles is that they have an ergonomic design. So you can work with them for long hours without getting cramps.


This set of 5 quality brushes for polyurethane is just what every carpenter needs. It has all the sizes of brush that you could need.

The tools also have a sharp angle that gives you more control and precision. But do keep in mind that these are very coarse. So remember to use a light hand when using over wood.

How to Choose Brush for Water-Based Polyurethane?

Selecting the perfect brush for a smooth and effortless varnish job is pretty easy. You must focus on key elements that make or break the deal.

Type of Bristle

Bristles are the main portion of any brush. This is a factor that decides the quality of the brush. So, when you’re looking for a brush to apply thin water-based polyurethane, good-quality bristles are a must-have.

There are two kinds of bristles that you can get: synthetic and natural hair.

Natural bristle brushes are made with animal hair. Therefore, they are much softer and more delicate.

Their softness is what makes them so helpful when using oil-based polyurethane. But as natural hair absorbs a lot of water-based polyurethane, it is not ideal.

Synthetic bristles are harsh and sturdier. They do not absorb any of the products. So you can get cleaner, smoother coats with a rush of this kind.

Style and Width

Quite similar to paintbrushes, these brushes for polyurethane come in a lot of different styles. What kind of brush you will need will depend on the kind of job you are doing.

The most common kind is a flat-top brush.

Then comes the width of the brush. A too-wide brush can cause a conundrum when working on smaller projects.

Similarly, a brush that is too narrow will take ages to finish off a larger project.

So always try to see what width of the brush you will need for your project. There are many sizes to choose from.

If you find yourself working with wood varnish regularly on different sizes of wood, you can consider getting a set of brushes. Sets come with brushes for polyurethane of different sizes.


A brush that does not have the right handle can slow you down. Longer handles can give you more speed, while smaller handles can give you more control. The handle length will depend on what kind of varnishing you are doing.

On the other hand, the handle’s material also needs to be of top quality. Without a handle, a brush is useless.

So it won’t matter if you’ve got yourself the finest synthetic bristle brush but the handle breaks in a few weeks.

Third, the handle of your brush should have an ergonomic design. Vanishing takes a lot of time, especially when working with water-based polyurethane.

A handle that is easier to hold and does not give your hands cramps will be highly appreciated.

The handle can have a grip, dents for you to place your fingers in, or even a smooth but not slippery handle to make the task easier for you.

Also, keep in mind to choose between a flat or a cylindrical handle according to your comfort.


The ferrule is the portion of the brush that is responsible for holding the bristles together in place.

A high-quality brush will have a sturdy ferrule. When working with water-based polyurethane, you will need a brush capable of giving you several coats without fraying the brush.

And the bristles should stay in place no matter how often a day you use them. Strong ferrules also reduce the shedding of bristles when working.

This part can keep the bristles and handles attached for longer if made of high quality.

Overall Look

A brush can alter the look you get on your wooden project. Before buying a brush, make sure you know what kind of look it gives.

If a brand does not mention anything about the final look, it is a normal brush that will give you an even coating of varnish.


The overall quality of the brush matters a lot. Don’t settle for a cheap brand. Sometimes you have to pay more to get a better quality brush.

Check the quality of the glue that holds everything together. This is that part that keeps your brush in one piece.

You don’t want bristles to fall off when working. You also don’t want the handles to break. Check for reviews and comments below on a product you want to buy online.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Don’t worry if you’re still confused about how and what to apply water-based polyurethane with. Here are some helpful questions that we have answered for you.

#1. What kind of brush do you use for water-based polyurethane?

Answer: Water-based polyurethane is usually much thinner than oil-based ones. This is why they spread more quickly. You must also apply these in thin coats several times to get the final look. Therefore a brush that is sturdy and durable is recommended for this product.

You also need a brush that won’t absorb the product. Natural bristle brushes should not be used with water-based polyurethane. This is because it is too soft. So, you won’t get a nice even coat. It also soaks up a lot of the product. Therefore, you need more products and need to spend more money.

#2. What brush is best for polyurethane?

Answer: Synthetic bristle brushes are the best for water-based polyurethane. They do not absorb any of the water. So you won’t have to use too much product. A synthetic bristle brush also gives you more even strokes. So you get a patch-free and smooth coating.

You should also try and get a brush that has a strong ferrule. This will make sure that the bristles do not shed on your work. Getting bristles off of wet varnish can be pretty strenuous and messy. That is why the ferrule and even the quality of glue matter so much when buying a brush for water-based polyurethane.

#3. What do I use to apply water-based polyurethane?

Answer: The best option is to use a synthetic brush. But people also use foam pads, sponges, or even cloth. Using these tools can be very messy. You will need to protect your hands using gloves so that the polyurethane does not get on your skin. But when you use a brush, the process is much simpler.

You can get the job done without having to put on gloves. A brush is also capable of applying polyurethane in thin and manageable coats. Unless you face an unavoidable situation, you should not use sponges or cloth for water-based polyurethane.

#4. How do you apply water-based polyurethane without bubbles?

Answer: One of the main problems, even when working with an excellent high-quality brush, is air bubbles. Air bubbles are created due to a lot of reasons. A great way to prevent this is to soak your brush. Before you get started with the coating, soak your brush in water. Do this if you’re using water-based polyurethane.

You will have to soak your brush in oil using oil-based polyurethane. Doing this eliminates most of the air bubbles. Soaking your brush also results in a thinner and even coat. You will notice that the brush will instantly become more manageable once you soak it in water.

#5. How do you apply polyurethane without brush marks?

Answer: Brush marks on your wood can be quite annoying. Adding lots of coats to hide the brush strokes never works. Adding more coats makes the finish look bulky and unprofessional. What you can do is sand the surface down before you start with the varnish. Use a sanding tool with a minimum of 220 grit.

After this, wet the wood with water and let it dry completely. Give it another final sanding to remove any remaining bumps. Now get started with polyurethane. Because you have a smooth and flat surface, there will be no brush marks.

Final Words

Working with wood is an art. You should try and get the best supplies for this art form to get the best results.

That is why you must pick the best brush for water-based polyurethane for your projects.

You might not think so, but this small tool can make a huge difference.

A bad-quality brush can leave brush strokes, marks, and dirt on your work.

The brush can also shed on your work.

A good brush is a must-have if you want a mess-free and smooth varnish on your wood.

Now it’s time to choose the right brush.

Meet the Authors

Heenan, Cannon, Mack, and Theodore are four outdoor enthusiasts. Each of them is a handyman and off-road adventurers. Dealing with different tools, automotive accessories, products related to home like sealers are some of their day-to-day tasks. They run this website to share their thoughts on various items they think are good or bad for others. Learn how they started as The Handyman Guru, and why they decided to start this blog..

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