Top 5 Best Brush for Water Based Polyurethane in 2020

Water-based polyurethane is a special kind of varnish that is designed to be more environment-friendly. Because it is water-based and not oil-based, the coating is a bit thinner. You need several coats of the varnish to reach the endpoint.

Because you will be applying the coats over one another, you want each coat to be streak-free and smooth. The tool that plays the most important role in achieving this flawless coating is the brush.

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 on reading best brush for polyurethane.

Best Brush for Water Based Polyurethane

Preview
Best Choice
Purdy 144324335 XL Series Pip Enamel/Wall Paint Brush, 3-1/2 inch
The Runner-up
Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled, Deluxe Quality Factory Sale Assortment, 3-Brush, Polyester Trim, Black/Gold, 3-Inch
Best Value
Wooster Brush 5221-2 1/2 5221-2-1/2 Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-1/2-Inch, 2-1/2 Inch
Wooster Brush 4IN P3974-4 Factory Sale Polyester Paintbrush, 4-Inch, 4 Inch
Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - 5 Ea - Paint Brush Set
Title
Purdy 144324335 XL Series Pip Enamel/Wall Paint Brush, 3-1/2 inch
Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled, Deluxe Quality Factory Sale Assortment, 3-Brush, Polyester Trim, Black/Gold, 3-Inch
Wooster Brush 5221-2 1/2 5221-2-1/2 Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-1/2-Inch, 2-1/2 Inch
Wooster Brush 4IN P3974-4 Factory Sale Polyester Paintbrush, 4-Inch, 4 Inch
Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - 5 Ea - Paint Brush Set
Editor's Rating
4.9/5
4.8/5
4.8/5
4.7/5
4.7/5
Prime Status
-
Best Choice
Preview
Purdy 144324335 XL Series Pip Enamel/Wall Paint Brush, 3-1/2 inch
Title
Purdy 144324335 XL Series Pip Enamel/Wall Paint Brush, 3-1/2 inch
Editor's Rating
4.9/5
Prime Status
The Runner-up
Preview
Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled, Deluxe Quality Factory Sale Assortment, 3-Brush, Polyester Trim, Black/Gold, 3-Inch
Title
Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled, Deluxe Quality Factory Sale Assortment, 3-Brush, Polyester Trim, Black/Gold, 3-Inch
Editor's Rating
4.8/5
Prime Status
Best Value
Preview
Wooster Brush 5221-2 1/2 5221-2-1/2 Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-1/2-Inch, 2-1/2 Inch
Title
Wooster Brush 5221-2 1/2 5221-2-1/2 Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-1/2-Inch, 2-1/2 Inch
Editor's Rating
4.8/5
Prime Status
Preview
Wooster Brush 4IN P3974-4 Factory Sale Polyester Paintbrush, 4-Inch, 4 Inch
Title
Wooster Brush 4IN P3974-4 Factory Sale Polyester Paintbrush, 4-Inch, 4 Inch
Editor's Rating
4.7/5
Prime Status
-
Preview
Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - 5 Ea - Paint Brush Set
Title
Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - 5 Ea - Paint Brush Set
Editor's Rating
4.7/5
Prime Status

If you can’t seem to get yourself a decent brush for your water-based polyurethane, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Down below, we have listed a few of the brushes that we love for water-based polyurethane.

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

Purdy 144324335 XL Series Pip Enamel/Wall Paint Brush, 3-1/2 inch
2,867 Reviews
Purdy 144324335 XL Series Pip Enamel/Wall Paint Brush, 3-1/2 inch
  • Our most versatile brush
  • Designed for use with all paints and stains
  • Medium Stiff Bristles
  • Natural Hardwood Handle, Beavertail Style, Semi-Oval, Brushed Copper Ferrule

Pros

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

Cons

  • The wooden handle is prone to getting stains

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

All the brushes that this brand contains are hand-crafted. Although these are synthetic bristles, they are not too harsh. The brush is stiff enough to give you 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 go back to their initial position. It won’t lose its structure.

To help that process, even more, this brush 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, which prevents any 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 make working for long hours bearable. The handles are sturdy. They don’t have a reputation for breaking too easily.

Verdict
This brush is a must-have if you’re tired of having to buy new brushes now and then. And this one will stick with you for a long, long time. If you can wash this brush properly and manage to store it in a cool, dry place, this brush will serve you for years.

#2. Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled

Sale
Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled, Deluxe Quality Factory Sale Assortment, 3-Brush, Polyester Trim, Black/Gold, 3-Inch
989 Reviews
Wooster Brush 3103-3 Wooster 3913 Chiseled, Deluxe Quality Factory Sale Assortment, 3-Brush, Polyester Trim, Black/Gold, 3-Inch
  • High-quality made in USA brushes for all paints as well as varnishes and stains
  • Thick polyurethane foam for the smoothest no-brush marks finish
  • White plastic handle with built-in stiffener blade for consistent flex and neat results

Pros

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

Cons

  • Sponges don’t last as long as brushes do

Surprised to see foam on our list of brushes? Yes, we usually don’t recommend cloth or foams of any sort for the application of water-based polyurethane. But we just can’t get over how well this foam performs!

Made with a high-quality open-cell thick foam, this tool is unique. Unlike most other foams that we see in 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 of the previous products—no need to wash the brush in between layers.

If you can’t seem to get brush stroke marks out from your wood, this is the option to go for. 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 for both paint and varnish. This tool will give you nice coverage. No need to go over the same are over and over again.

Verdict
We agree that these won’t last you that long. But the short period that 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

Wooster Brush 5221-2 1/2 5221-2-1/2 Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-1/2-Inch, 2-1/2 Inch
447 Reviews
Wooster Brush 5221-2 1/2 5221-2-1/2 Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-1/2-Inch, 2-1/2 Inch
  • Silver tip, 2-1/2", angle Sash, paint Brush, white & Silver chisel trim polyester, very soft formulation, feather stroke, rust resistant, Brushed steel Ferrule
  • Adds extra shine to your product
  • Satin ferrule

Pros

  • 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 handle for more speed

Cons

  • 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 brush is that you can use this for both oil-based and water-based polyurethane. Bristles on this brush are smooth enough to carry the weight of an oil-based varnish but also sturdy enough to give not absorb any of the water-based varnishes.

Made from chisel trim polyester, this silver and white bristle can handle anything. 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 many times you wash this brush, you won’t be causing 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 you want if you work on large-sized wood projects.

Verdict
We would highly suggest that you get this Wooster brush if you can squeeze it into your budget. The brush performs great 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

Wooster Brush 4IN P3974-4 Factory Sale Polyester Paintbrush, 4-Inch, 4 Inch
373 Reviews
Wooster Brush 4IN P3974-4 Factory Sale Polyester Paintbrush, 4-Inch, 4 Inch
  • Deluxe made in USA quality out-paints the imports
  • Gold polyester with chisel trim for all latex or oil paints
  • Brass-plated steel ferrule
  • Black solid plastic handle

Pros

  • 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 stains easily
  • Great if you want your task done faster

Cons

  • Holds in too much product

If you work on large pieces of wood, you know how annoying working with smaller brushes can get. Not only do you need more time, but the brush also can’t get the job done right. If this is a problem that you face as well, we recommend this model from Wooster.

This is a wide brush 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 brush for both oil-based and water-based polyurethane. Even with long use, the brush won’t absorb any of the 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. Especially because this handle is black, the handle does not get any stains. So the brush will keep on looking brand new for a longer time.

Verdict
You need this big brush if you’re someone who has to work with wood daily, especially if these wood projects are large! The brush holds a lot of product, so you might have some trouble with 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 – 5 Ea Review

Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - 5 Ea - Paint Brush Set
14,069 Reviews
Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - 5 Ea - Paint Brush Set
  • Paint Brush Set Includes 1 Ea of 1" Flat, 1-1/2" Angle, 2" Stubby Angle, 2" Flat & 2-1/2" Angle
  • Paint Brushes For Interior Or Exterior Projects. Use Angle Sash Paint Brush For Cutting Crisp Lines.
  • Professional Results On Walls, Trim, Cabinets, Doors, Fences, Decks, Touch Ups, Arts And Crafts.
  • Premium Quality Paint Brushes At A Cheap Price! No Cardboard Covers Come With This Set.
  • The SRT filament blend holds more paint to save time, less streaks & premium finish on walls & trim.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Some found the bristles to be too coarse

Getting a whole set of brushes at a price like this is a deal no one wants to miss! For everyone who loves working with wood, whether it is professionally or for fun, this set is a perfect addition to a work station.

In the set, you get 5 brushes. 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 project or a small one, you’ll always have a brush around for polyurethane.

The smaller brushes in this set are great 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 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.

Verdict
This set of 5 brushes is just what every carpenter needs. It has all the sizes of brushed that you could need. The tools also come with a sharp angle that gives you more control and preciseness. 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 ease. You just need to focus on a few 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 on the quality of the brush. So, when you’re looking for a brush to apply thin water-based polyurethane with, 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 useful when using an oil-based polyurethane. But as the natural hair absorbs a lot of the 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 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 brush that is too wide can cause quite 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 and see what width of the brush you will need for your project at hand. 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 of different sizes.

Handle

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 length of the handle will depend on what kind of varnishing you are doing.

On the other hand, the material of the handle 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 just 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.

Ferrule

The ferrule is the portion of the brush that is responsible for holding the bristles together in place. A good quality brush will have a sturdy ferrule. When working with water-based polyurethane, you will need a brush that is 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 a longer time if made of good quality.

Overall Look

A brush can alter the overall look that you get on your wooden project. Before buying a brush, make sure you know what kind of look it gives off. If a brand does not mention anything about the final look, then it is a normal brush that will give you an even coating of varnish.

Quality

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 a product that 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 easily. You also need to 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 product 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 quite tough 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 the 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 that remain even when working with a good 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 if you’re using an 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 to look at. 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 some water and let it dry completely. Give it another final sanding to remove any remaining bumps. Now get started with the 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 need 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. If you want a mess-free and smooth varnish on your wood, a good brush is a must-have.

Related Resources:
Best Polyurethane For Stairs and Floors: Our Top 5 Picks.

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