Difference between Black China Bristle and White China Bristle?

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Blog entry by Steven H posted 06-13-2011 06:32 PM 45900 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Oil base or Alkyd primers and finishes require natural filament blends for the best results. Although some synthetic brushes say “For All Paints”, they can’t beat natural animal hair.

Synthetic brushes loose there shape in oil base paints and primers, an oil paint brush must be stiff enough to hold its shape and soft enough not to leave to many brush marks.

Brush manufactures use a blend of different natural bristles to change the softness and stiffness. These blends are Black China bristle, White China bristle and Ox hair brushes. All of these natural bristle types can be combined with each other or with synthetic filaments.

Black China Bristle Paint Brushes – Black China bristle brushes are perfect for use with oil base paint, primer and enamels. This type of natural bristle brush has the stiffness for cutting in a straight line and thicker hair for holding more paint.

White China Bristle Paint Brushes – White China bristle brushes is a great choice for varnishes, polyurethane and stains. White bristles are finer than Black China bristles and provide a finer finish. Watch out for cheap white bristle brushes. They fall apart very easily.

Ox Hair Blends – Clear wood finishes require a very soft brush for the best results and Ox hair blends are the softest, the perfect varnish brush. Usually a blend of Ox hair with white bristles, black bristles or synthetic filaments for stiffness.

These brushes cannot be used with latex paints or be cleaned with water this will ruin the brush! Never use a natural bristle brush in water or water based products. Natural bristle paint brushes absorb water and loose their shape, becoming imposable to control.

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4 comments so far

View scarpenter002's profile


606 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 06-13-2011 11:38 PM

Nice writeup. Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott in Texas

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2695 days

#2 posted 06-14-2011 05:21 AM

I’m glad you threw in the ox hair. We use the Purdy 100% for re-painting cabinet boxes on site with oil (alkyd enamel) paint. They barely leave brush marks to begin with and pretty much lay down all the way before dry. They are good for about two uses, then become high-dollar dust brushes, but they are worth it.

The Purdy Syntox is even softer/finer than the natural ox hair, lasts longer and CAN be used for oil or water based products. Highly recommended as well. Last time we used those was for painting large columns with acrylic enamel exterior paint and NOT leaving thousands of brush stroke marks.

BTW Purdy was bought out by Sherwin Williams, but thankfully they are still sold at numerous other places, too.

Good thread, Steven H. Most people don’t even know how to dip or hold a paint brush correctly. I can look at your can and your brush and tell.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3115 days

#3 posted 06-14-2011 05:47 PM

David are you a painter yourself?

Have you noticed the quality of china bristle in recent years? Every brush manufacturer in US has the poor quality than China. Because China is holding back.

I have not tried the Purdy Syntox, I have heard its a great brush from many painters. I have to order some and try.

When Sherwin Williams bought Purdy out, I have heard that their quality has going down. I don’t know, because I mostly use Wooster or Corona.

Brushing is a skill. There is a learning curve. When I read Fine wood working articles or other woodworking magazine. They say Brushing is easy to do, because YOUR DOING IT WRONG

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2695 days

#4 posted 06-14-2011 08:02 PM

StevenH, I would categorize myself as a non-practicing painter. I have had the immense pleasure of learning from, working with and employing a few near-masterful painters in my journey. I can and have painted two entire new houses with one of them. I don’t do it as much as in years past, but we paint something every day.

I have not seen the Purdy quality decrease.

Yes, brushing is a skill. Dipping a brush is a skill. Knowing when to dip again is a skill. As is not wiping on the inside of the can. Touching up is a skill. Perfectly painting reds/plums/burgundys on raw sheetrock in three total coats is a skill. Most real painters would prefer round brush handles than flat square. Fine caulking is easy (I use a damp sponge for my finger only), but few are truly good at it. How to tell ? You don’t see the caulk OR the crack or transition it covers. A real painter will not have masking tape. Nor will he/she need a shield to paint baseboard in a carpeted room. A real painter will have brushes that are daily cleaned and groomed to last and last. A real painter will not leave a brush leaning in paint to distort the filaments, etc. etc.

But you know these things and many others I am sure. Shhh. Don’t let the homeowners know. We get quite a bit of “I tried to paint myself, but…” jobs all the time. ;=)

Painter joke for you: What’s the difference in a painter and wallpaper hanger ? A wallpaper hanger is a painter with their brains knocked out.

I hang paper, too.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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