Which watercolor paintbrush set is best?

Watercolors are perfect for those who are just starting to learn how to paint or are in the beginning stages of learning. A proper paintbrush is essential to using watercolors correctly.

Not all paintbrushes work for every type of paint. While you don’t need a specific brush for watercolors, certain brushes are better designed for this medium. If you are looking for the best watercolor paintbrush set, ZenART Watercolor Paintbrushes are the top option.

What to know before you buy a watercolor paintbrush set

Brush bristles

Bristles are available in either natural or synthetic varieties. Brush bristles are a vital part of your brush because of their ability to hold water and paint, which are both important factors in how well paint spreads across canvas.

Natural hairs have a better liquid holding capacity than synthetic. They commonly are made with strands from hogs, sables or badgers, which help the brushes hold more water. Sable-hair brushes are considered some of the best to use as watercolor paintbrushes, but they also are some of the more expensive brushes. Pony-hair brushes are a low-cost option for young watercolor artists, but they are of a lower quality.

Synthetic watercolor brushes are made with nylon, polyester or a combination of both materials. These brushes are durable and pick up paint smoothly. They also maintain their shape better than natural brushes. Synthetic brushes do not hold as much water and paint as natural ones because of their smoother bristles. These paintbrushes are highly affordable and durable, making them excellent options for those opposed to using animal products.


You can do different painting techniques with a variety of brush shapes. Round paintbrushes are the most common shape, and they are very versatile. Flat brushes are perfect for bold, linear strokes such as those used for background painting and landscapes. Detail brushes are smaller with a finer point and are great for adding in small details. Your watercolor paintbrush set should include a variety of shapes to accomplish different details.


In addition to different shapes, brushes have different sizes. Each shape will have varying degrees of sizes depending on length, width and diameter of your brush. Choose a set that has a nice range of brush sizes.

What to look for in a quality watercolor paintbrush set

Brush handles

Brushes are held together with a tiny piece of metal called a ferrule, which connects bristles to the handle. The most durable ferrules are double or triple crimped to hold the bristles in place firmly. Most handles are made with wood, which fit naturally into your hand. Plastic handles are prone to breaking and snapping.

Number of paintbrushes

Watercolor paintbrush sets will vary in the number of brushes they contain. Beginners may want to stick to smaller sets until they learn more techniques. Advanced watercolor artists may opt for larger sets to have a variety of brushes with which to experiment.

Non-brush accessories

Some brush sets come with non-brush accessories, such as a palette knife or sponge. Sets may include a case for your brushes so you can store them safely when they are not in use. Another accessory you may want to make sure you have is watercolor paper

How much you can expect to spend on a watercolor paintbrush set

Because of the variance in brush shapes, sizes and brush amounts, these sets vary widely in price. A beginner set can cost around $6 while a more expensive set can be as much as $45.

Watercolor paintbrush set FAQ

How do you clean your brushes?

A. Use warm water at your sink and gently massage the paintbrush. Work mild soap into the bristles and rinse until the water is clear. Repeat until all your brushes are clear.

Is synthetic OK if you can’t find natural bristles?

A. There are advantages and disadvantages to both bristle types. You can still make stunning watercolor art with synthetic bristles.

What’s the best watercolor paintbrush set to buy?

Top watercolor paintbrush set

ZenART Watercolor Paintbrushes

ZenART Watercolor Paintbrushes

What you need to know: ZenART is highly reviewed by professional artists and teachers for a quality brush set at a great price.

What you’ll love: The ferrules on this brush set are resistant to rust, which means they last longer. These vegan brushes use synthetic bristles created to mimic the qualities of sable hair without using animal products.

What you should consider: There are only six brushes in this set, so it lacks shape and size variety.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top watercolor paintbrush set for the money

BOSOBO Paintbrushes Set

BOSOBO Paintbrushes Set

What you need to know: This set comes with two 10-pack brush sets for any painting skill level.

What you’ll love: The handles are covered in a waterproof coating to protect them from water damage. Shorter handles afford the artist more control and precision in small details. They come in a variety of sizes and tips.

What you should consider: While being a 20-piece set, there are only 10 different types of brushes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

MozArt Supplies 15 Paintbrushes Set

MozArt Supplies 15 Paintbrushes Set

What you need to know: MozART supplies are perfect for artists of all levels and receive a lot of positive feedback.

What you’ll love: Real artists were asked for their input on which sizes were essential, and that’s what this set includes. The bristles offer great water retention and resilience as the ferrules are secured tightly.

What you should consider: It comes with its own carrying case.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Vanessa Wade writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.