Can You Use the Same Brushes for Acrylic and Oil Painting?

Yes! You can use the same brushes for acrylic and oil painting if this response soothes you.

While it’s possible to use the same brushes for both acrylic and oil paints, I don’t recommend that you do so.

Here’s the reason why – you stand the chance of ruining both paints as acrylic paints can get contaminated with the oil from the brush. This will subsequently mar your painting.

But if you need to use the same brush for both acrylic and oil painting, use the brush on acrylic paints first before moving on to oil paints.

do i need different brush for acrylic and oil paint

Brushes that you use for acrylic painting can still be used for oil paints, no issue with that. But if you use the brush for oil paints, you can no longer use the brush for acrylic paints going forward because the oil from the brush will contaminate the acrylic paints.

Acrylic paints are water-based and oil paints, being oil-based, won’t mix with water. Once you use a brush for oil painting, no matter how well you wash the brush, it’ll never come completely clean.

Chances are that some oil will still get stuck in the ferrule. Though the amount of oil in the ferrule may be negligible, taking chances may be too risky.

When such a brush is later used for acrylic painting, the oil in the ferrule can drip down the brush onto the painting, leaving you with messed-up artwork.

Now, you understand the reason why I don’t recommend that you use the same brushes for both acrylic and oil painting. It’s much better and safer to use separate paintbrushes for different paints.

Pros of Using Same Brushes for Acrylic and Oil Paintings

  • It saves you the extra cost of buying a new set of brushes.
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Cons of Using Same Brushes for Acrylic and Oil Paintings

  • Using the same brushes affects the overall quality of your painting.
  • It wears out the brushes quickly.
  • It takes a lot of time and effort to wash the brushes in between paintings.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint Brushes for Watercolor?

Yes, it’s safe to use acrylic paint brushes for watercolor but it’s not ideal. 

Although, you shouldn’t use watercolor brushes with acrylics but if you chose to do so, do it cautiously. Generally, I will recommend that you have separate brushes for acrylic and watercolor.

Though both are water-based, acrylic and watercolor differ in both chemical compositions and construction.

Watercolor is less dense, waterier, and more delicate than acrylic paint, it also dries faster. In the same way, their brushes differ.

Acrylic paint brushes are specifically designed to handle the thick and sticky nature of the paint, as well as its viscosity and drying time.

For this reason, the bristles of acrylic paint brushes are made of synthetic fibers, which are not meant to hold too much water.

Though the bristles of some watercolor brushes are made of synthetic fibers, most are made of natural fibers. This enables watercolor brushes to hold more water and release the water as required in watercolor painting.

If you use an acrylic paint brush for your watercolor, the brush will leave more strokes on the watercolor painting due to its tough synthetic bristles.

This can affect the beauty of your artwork. Also, using acrylic paint brushes for watercolor tends to damage the brush faster than when it’s used for acrylic paints only.

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Like I said earlier, if you still want to go ahead with using your acrylic paint brush for watercolor, it’s safe. But you shouldn’t use watercolor brushes with acrylics.

What’s more? Be ready to deal with whatever outcome that comes with it using an acrylic paint brush for watercolor painting.

What to Consider to Pick Up the Right Brush for Painting with Acrylic?

There are different factors to consider when picking up the right brush for painting with acrylic. Here are the major ones:

1. The Bristle of The Brush

This is very important. The type of paint you want to work with will determine the type of bristle to choose. Bristles are made with different materials, which include synthetic fiber and natural fiber. 

If you’ll be working with acrylic paint, choose a paintbrush with synthetic bristles, and if you’ll be working with watercolor, choose a paintbrush with natural fiber/hair.

Also, brushes with synthetic bristles can stay longer in water than natural fibers without getting damaged.

Finally, brushes with synthetic fibers are more versatile, durable, and affordable than natural fibers.

2. The Shape of The Brush

Here is another very important consideration. Paintbrushes come in different shapes and each shape is intended for different uses.

Each brush shape creates different patterns and effects on your artwork. Brush shapes include-

  • Flat
  • Round
  • Pointed round
  • Detail round
  • Fan
  • Angular flat
  • Filbert, and
  • Bright

3. The Texture of The Brush

The bristles of the paintbrushes have different textures. The texture of the paintbrush to use will depend totally on what you want to create in your artwork.

Soft bristles are used to blend colors while coarse and hard bristles are used to create rough effects or thick layers.

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4. The Size of The Paintbrush

The size of the paintbrush to pick depends on two factors – the size of the surface you’ll be working on and the artwork you’ll paint.

You can get paintbrushes in different sizes ranging from big to small and fine-size. Big sizes are used for larger areas and more visible effects while small sizes are used for smaller areas and fine, precise details.

5. Length of The Paintbrush Handle

While this may look less significant to you, it’s equally an important consideration. Brushes with a long handle allow you to paint a little farther from the painting surface. It enables you to have a distant view of his artwork, especially when you’re doing a larger painting.

Brushes with a short handle, on the other hand, allow you to have a closer view of your artwork while painting.

This is suitable for smaller and more detailed paintings. The choice depends on the type of artwork you want to create.


Now you know the different types of brushes available for acrylic and oil painting. You also know the factors to consider before picking up a brush for your artwork. It’s important that you understand these things because they can affect the outcome of your painting.

I hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Happy painting!

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