A review of Eco-Union from a Pro Decorator

Now, anyone who’s been around here for a few years will know about the old Eco Ezee brushes and how most of us felt about them – myself included. I won’t comment on them here because it’s all old news and things have moved on.

The guys at Eco have been busy re-designing and listening to feedback. The Eco Union brushes are made in the UK (some of the raw materials are sourced from abroad simply because they’re not available here), they are made with recycled or sustainable materials right down to the packaging. So, the eco credentials which previously let them down have now been addressed. Knowing that, it made me want to try the new brushes to see what had changed. I’ve just spent a while writing up the review for my web site, so I’m going to copy some of that here to save doing it twice….

So, for me to want to use them there are a few things that I would be looking for in a brush, aside from the eco part, and I will look at each in turn.

  • Build quality and reliability.
  • The ergonomics of the design
  • Flexibility of the brush and the amount of ‘spring’
  • Shaping of the filaments
  • Tipping and flagging
  • Ease of cleaning and durability

A few years ago, I bought a couple of Eco Ezee (the recent ancestors of Eco Union) brushes to try and at that time I must admit I wasn’t impressed, so I gave up on them for a while. Clearly the manufacturer has done a lot of work on improving the design and listening to feedback and Eco Union brushes are a significant improvement in many ways.

What we need to remember is that, in order to make these brushes eco-friendly, there are going to be compromises because the manufacturer isn’t able to utilise the new components and construction materials that other makers use. Recycled bristles may never be as perfect or resilient as new ones, but the question is, in spite of looking a little untidy after a few washes, do they still do the job?

They certainly don’t shed the way they did before and I have only had a couple of bristles drop out in the wash.

It may be that over the last few years, I have changed the way I paint and now prefer a much softer brush than I liked before. So now these Eco Union brushes suit me better – I’m not sure if they have changed them to be a little firmer but I like the way they flex now. I also felt they were too springy before which meant the occasional drop of paint flying off in the wrong direction, but that also feels different and doesn’t feel like it will be a problem. Most excellent!

This new range includes the MIB and Pro brushes. the MIB is more of a standard sized brush and comes with synthetic bristles and I guess is more suited to painting trim and furniture. The Pro brushes are much thicker, much much thicker! Monster thick – they are beasts with a mixture of synthetic and natural bristle and hold loads of paint.

I don’t know what method Eco Union use for flagging the tips, but it works well, and they feel really soft. I’ve used one for testing some eggshell paint going on wood and the finish is very good with no brush marks at all. I’ve since used them on walls for cutting in as well as a few rooms of trim.

In spite of fairly full stocks, the tips are shaped well and can be pressed into a fine, flat tip which makes cutting in more controllable. My only criticism here is that a lot of us use a 2.5-inch angled brush for cutting in walls but Eco Union only make an angled brush up to 2 inches. Which means I either need to use a 2″ angled brush to cut in or I work with a square brush that does come in a 2.5-inch size. But the angled brush makes corners so much neater so I shall either have to adjust my working method or these guys will need to start making a 2.5-inch angled brush just for me (and a load of other decorators of course)!

Cleaning up? Well due to the fact we are in an eco-friendly business here, my paints are water based and less likely to punish a brush than less ‘green’ paints. Having said that, I am quite good at leaving dirty brushes bagged up for a few days before I get round to cleaning them. Yes I know!! From my past experience with these brushes, I thought I should be a bit gentle with the cleaning – it’s good practice anyway. They weren’t any more difficult to flush out than any other brushes I have and all it takes is a bit of warm soapy water. I do spin the brushes to help them dry and these brushes don’t like that very much. But they can be combed out and tidied up and when they dry they are not too bad. Never as neat and tidy as non eco brushes but as long as they don’t get worse after each subsequent wash, they will be fine. I put this down to the nature of the recycled bristles and this is one of the acceptable compromises. When the brush is dipped in paint again it soon comes together and works just as well.

I’m planning on getting a few more of these in and try and work with them as much as I can. I do like them and I am confident they can do a good job as long as I make a few small adjustments to my methods – and if we are to make progress toward fixing the damage we have been doing to this planet we all need to be prepared to make a few changes right? Seriously though, these are a real improvement and I like them a lot.

Priced at significantly less than most professional paint brushes. Check out the Eco Union website for stockists and pick some brushes up before I buy them all. Bear in mind, suppliers are going to want to shift their old Eco Ezee stock before they put the Eco Union on the shelf so it may be a while before they are easy to get hold of.

Both types are available in 1″, 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″, 3″ and 4″ with angled versions in 1.5″ and 2″. Oh, and the stubby 2″ angled – used that to cut in a feature wall and didn’t need to bother taping.

Read the review on the original page here.

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