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Brush Mate Review by a professional decorator

Updated Feb 2, 2023 | Posted May 8, 2020 | Product Review, Tools | 15 comments

A Brush Mate is a box you put your oil-based paintbrushes in to stop them going hard. They come in two different sizes, a Brush Mate 20 is the biggest one and can hold up to 20 paintbrushes. The other size is a Brush Mate 4 which can hold up to, you guessed it, 4 paintbrushes. As a professional decorator I use both sizes of brush mate and have for many years. You can buy these products online, click here to see latest prices. This is my Brush Mate review.


The Old way to Store your Paintbrush


A Brush Mate is quite an expensive bit of kit, so when I first started out on my own, I made do without one. The alternative “old-school” method of keeping your oil-based brushes in good nick in between jobs is to throw them in a pot with just enough water to cover the bristles. If you want to save a few quid, this might still be a viable option, but it does come with a few drawbacks.

First off, you will have to clean your brushes every time you use them anyway, simply to get all the water out. Oil-based paint floats on water and clogs up the ferrule of your brush too. Oh, and your brush will rust after a short space of time. If you leave them for any length of time, the water will evaporate, and your brushes will go hard. The last thing, any time you moved your pot of water and brushes, the water would spill all over the van. Thinking about it now, those days were hell! So messy! The Brush Mate is a Godsend and easily the best way to stop your paint brushes going hard.


Bring on the Brush Mate Review!!


It was like a revelation when I bought my first Brush Mate!! It does take up a bit of space in my van, but my brushes are kept in perfect condition in between jobs. The only two things you need to remember are; keep the bottle of Brush Mate fluid topped up (if you want to save a few quid you can use thinners), and don’t sit on your Brush Mate!! If you do sit on it, you’ll bend the lid and the seal won’t be air tight any more. They’ve switched back to metal lids which are a lot more robust than the plastic ones.


There are a couple of other drawbacks as well. You hang your brushes on metal hooks inside your Brush Mate, however they will fall off from time to time in transit. This is an absolute pain in the backside and you end up having to fish your favorite brush out of a sloppy horrible mess at the bottom. The only other issue is the paint brushes tend to touch each other when the box is full, so it’s no good if you keep different colours in one box.

It feels as though I’m being too negative which is unjust because I genuinely believe the Brush Mate to be brilliant!! They are well made, last an age and keep your oil-based paint brushes in amazing condition without the need to clean them. We are a two-man decorating team and I have 3 brush mates. One for white brushes, one for colours and a small one for my stain and varnish brushes.

You’re looking at around £100 for the Brush Mate 20 and £20 for the smaller one. You can pick these up from almost any trade paint counter, but it may be cheaper to buy Brush Mate products online at Paint Well.

Brush Mate Review – by Mike Gregory


What do Other Decorators Think?

Brush mate boxes are great to keep your oil-based brushes in. Most of my paint is water-based now, so I’ve gone from three brush mates down to one. It isn’t ideal keeping more than one coloured brush in a box as the paint runs from each brush and can contaminate the others. Still, it’s a lot better than the old way of keeping your brush in water.

Kelly Cable

When brush mates came out; I remember scoffing at them. I’d kept my oil-based brushes in water up until that point, why would I spend big money on a box that does the same thing? Then I bought one, and realised how good it was, but couldn’t work out why they are so expensive.

They’re essentially a metal box with an airtight lid. I could only think that someone had been very clever, put together a simple solution, patented the idea, and are now sitting back getting rich of it.

That might still be the case, but the point remains; a brush mate is the best solution for keeping oil-based brushes after use. Nothing else comes close! When you look at it like that you can’t really argue against it.

Alan Marks


A brush mate does everything you need it to do. No way it costs fifty notes to manufacture though. Someone has made a serious amount of money off the back of that invention.

Ste Whittam

The new brush mate buckets are good. There’s a clamp than goes around the bucket to protect the seal. I reckon you could leave we brushes in one of those for a thousand years and they’d still be fresh when you opened it.

Mike Ryan

Updated Feb 2, 2023 | Posted May 8, 2020 | 15 comments

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  1. Dermot O Callaghan

    The brush box is a brilliant tool for any decorator, only downside was when they introduced the orange plastic lid for the big box, it never sealed the vapour in and you end up buying a lot more of the fluid, I’ve had 3 over the last 20 odd years and bought 2 plastic lids (throwing my metal lids away) but I have now bought 2 metal ones again and thrown the plastic ones away, expensive mistake…

    • Sarah

      Just wish they’d make the brush mate boxes taller to accommodate the longer brushes-

  2. Gary

    Handy when i used to sub on council redecs , used the small one with probably 2 or 3 brushes at most. Saved a lot of time cleaning up.Sits empty now as ive gone over to solely domestics and waterbased.

  3. Steve

    Is that discount code for all products and what is the percentage

    • Mike Cupit

      Hi Steve. The discount is 8% but it doesn’t work for any of the sanders or sprayers

  4. Dave Fegan

    Your using your brush box wrong do not leave your brush box in your car or vans it tends to explode inside leaving a mess at the bottom of your box get a metal lid for it as this will keep the box tightly sealed use the correct fluid as this does last slot longer than substitutes get an empty plastic box ie a used washed out butter box or a small Tupperware box and keep your rad rollers in it if you use this method your fluid will last you about six months and you wont have all that gunch in the bottom

  5. Robert james

    My brushes went hard as nails in mine lost a lot of money so no to brushmate waste of money

    • Tony - Corona

      If your brushes have gone hard, rub some of the brush mate fluid onto the hard’nd paint and leave in your brush mate.
      After a while the hard paint will soften and you will be able to clean up with warm soapy water and a brush comb.

      • Stewart

        I have this problem now for the last year in fault finding at the minute my brushes are going hard after 3 to 4 days .I’ve serviced them new pads and fluid I’m stuck at the moment I don’t no what to do . Do I go back to staggy water lol. Is they a customer service number for brush mate as I have two boxes and in both brushes are going hard. Need help I’m going crazy

  6. Phil

    Have 2 x 4 brush boxes & 1 x 20,
    Agree about the plastic lids, better seal with metal.
    Full clean out every Christmas leaves them ready for the season.

  7. Joe

    I have the same Brush Mate box for the last 20 years and it never lets me down great bit of kit.

  8. Will

    The design of paintbrush handles has changed over the years, Brush Mate metal clips have not. I have brought this issue up with them several times and always get fobbed off. It is now 2020 Brush Mate.

  9. mark Gooch

    Hi All
    Just wondering if any decorators have had problems with some of there brushes going a bit hard in there mate, my mate is always topped up with fluid, metal lid, sealed well not left in sun at all. For many years it was fine it seems since some of the paint formulas have change it do not affect all brushes. These do soften up once clean out a bit with white sprite.
    My brushes are all good makes.

    • Tony Corona

      Hello Mark, You are right paints have changed, the trade did not like the early waterbased paints. They had to work quicker and they were less forgiving. They also hung onto the old natural bristle brushes, which absorbed moisture and become mop like in time. To over come this some pain manufacturers added an alkyd to some products. These were more forgiving, however alkyds are vegetable resins for the great part and will not necessarily wash out with water so every couple of weeks a white spirit or propriety brush cleaner will return them to better usages.

  10. Miles Newby

    So pleased to find this forum and losing patience with my trusty brushmate. I agree with the leaky plastic lids were a mistake, invited you to sit on them and all to allow more vapour to escape.I bought a new plastic lid and made sure it was not sat on or had anything stacked on it.It duly warped on its own ( possibly vapour attack from inside) so replaced lid again with a metal one, and now use masking tape too for good measure.Seems to working better.
    The vapour fluid by the way is an anti-skinning agent added to new paint and besides being expensive is not as efficient as it was pre-legislation.


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