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How do you get that perfect straight line?

Posted by minx649 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 1, 07 at 22:52

We are painting using several dark colors and I find the dark tones to be unforgiving when it comes to a clean line at the ceiling. We have tried the blue painters tape on the ceiling. We have tried leaving it on a while then removing. We have removed it as soon as we paint. We have tried the hand held straight edge thing like a ruler. We just can't seem to get it straight so that the edge doesn't really jump out at you. I am a perfectionist by nature and it's driving me crazy. I've about decided to go buy some artist brushes and just try to keep a steady hand to straighten it out. Geez...any recommendations from you painting pros?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Definitely not pro here, but...I like to use a teeny artist's brush to cut in. Way too obsessive, but it's the only way I can get it perfect sometimes.

I saw on HGTV where they put up the blue painter's tape, then painted with the underneath (wrong) color first just along the tape edge. THEN painted the actual (correct) color on top. The idea was that any initial bleeding under the tape would be invisible because it matched the color already under the tape. So the first stripe just kinda seals the tape, and makes for a very crisp edge when you go over with the actual color. At least on TV.
(That is VERY hard to explain - hope I explained it well enough.)

Only other thought I have is that a lighter ceiing color crossing onto a wall plane is much more visible and obvious than a darker wall color crossing onto a ceiling plane. So if you are going to slip outside that perfect line, err where it is less obvious.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Thank you celticmoon. The little artist brush is looking better all the time. Ha... I can't stand it not being straight. It's driving me crazy. No one else would probably even notice but I'll know it. I will actually check out your advice about the darker color crossing over onto the ceiling plane. That may be what I'm not happy with. What I am seeing is the line from the white ceiling coming down onto the wall plane. Thanks again. You've helped my thought process on this.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

The way I do it is by hand with a good straight brush (not an angle brush). The ceiling coming down onto the wall plane is a very common issue which is why we actually go up onto the ceiling with the wall paint. I know it sounds nutty, but the drywall line at the corner where your wall meets your ceiling is rarely a good one.....at least not good enough to follow to make a straight line with a dark color. So, we bypass this by a fraction of an inch and make our own perfectly straight line above the wiggly drywall line. Your wall paint is actually on the ceiling but it does not look like it....one of my pet peeves is when people (including painters) paint the walls without going all the way up to the ceiling. It just doesn't look professional IMO.

The trick with sealing down the tape edge so that paint won't bleed underneath is a good one, but you have to lay down your tape perfectly in order for your ceiling line to be perfect. This is hard when you are taping over your head on a ladder, but it can be done with practice. You can also use an acrylic clear to seal down the tape edge if you don't have any ceiling paint.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Wow. Thank you paintguy. My DH is not a painter at all and his thought process was to keep it entirely off the ceiling. I see now that isn't correct. We will get out there later today and try your tips as well. I love this forum. I don't post much...more of a lurker but I have learned so much from you wonderful people. Thank you again.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I never could figure out why some people try to paint a straight line w/o going up on the ceiling. The illusion fixes it.

Michael


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

When I painted the walls two colors, I first painted with Paint A on the upper portion. I put down blue tape along the line I drew. Then I painted again with Paint A along the tape in the lower portion of the wall - just along the tape line - about 1/4 inch. That pretty much seals the blue tape so no other paint will bleed through. THEN I would paint the entire lower portion of the wall with Paint B. That way, any paint bleeds along the blue tape line was the same as the upper portion.

I hope this is clear. It really did work for me.

Now if you don't have ceiling paint as well as wall paint for your room, this trick doesn't work.

Good luck.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Am I correct that painting a small fraction of the ceiling only works for smooth walls? I can't imagine trying this on my textured walls and getting a straight line.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Sure it works for all walls. Painting the textured walls is harder no matter what, but you can still bypass the drywall line and make your own straighter line a hair beyond that.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

One thing I found out when using painter's tape is that it stretches if you pull too much out and try to place it in long lengths, (I found this out when using it to do a faux tile look on the concrete floor of our screen room) - so I measured with a ruler and marked with pencil so I could keep my painter's tape straight - this was on the floor and it wasn't easy either.

A good quality cut in brush with a steady hand also helps and cleaning it real well after use. I know there must be professional techniques on how to use these properly? I hate it when paint drips down the handle - I wear a shower cap over my head when painting.

In a couple of my indoor rooms I have textured ceilings, the others I have smooth ceilings. A couple of rooms I have painted the same color ceiling as the walls (decorating and painting folks - is this tacky? - probably another post topic).

I also use the little artist's brush to touch up after painting straight lines - like under and beside kitchen cabinets. The artist's brush works well when staining molding and trying to get into crevices too.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I use an angled brush at the ceiling line and then touch up with a small (picture painting) brush.

While I can't help you much with the ceiling area, I am very fussy about straight lines where woodwork meets wall surfaces; so, one tip I picked up on the painting forums is to really press down the edge of the tape.

I usually apply the tape to the newly painted woodwork. Then I use a cheapo plastic putty knife & press the edge several times to get a good seal. Then I apply the wall paint. At this point I'm usually cutting in all the fussy areas around windows and doors, etc.

As soon as it's dry enough, I try to get a second coat applied. And, as soon as that coat dries to the touch I slowly remove the tape. If you wait too long and it dries too much, you'll end up peeling off chunks of paint.

I really slobbered the wall paint on the tape and was afraid I might have a problem peeling it off, but this was not an issue as long as the tape was removed fairly soon.

I'm extremely pleased with the clean, crisp edges, and the paint only bled through in 2 or 3 areas in the entire room; and I was able to fix these spots easily.

Hope this helps.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Crown molding is my answer. Painting below crown is much easier than trying to get a straight line at the ceiling. Only other suggestions is a good angle brush and the correct technique for holding it. If that doesn't work, find the best darn painter you can hire.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I love this cheap gadget from Shur-Line --- their Ceiling and Trim Edger. I found it at Home Depot for about $3, and has refill pads for $1.50 or so. I love it, and I don't usually fall for the gismos, but my stepdad recommended it. Just don't get any paint on the wheels and smooth out the line with your roller afterwards. We stopped using the painters' tape with this thing. GL!

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of Shur-Line Ceiling Edger


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

The drawback to using the paint pad edger is that it follows your ceiling line, so if the ceiling line is wiggly so will be your paint line. It's nice to use when the drywall job is perfect though.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Paintguy or brutuses...how about a quick primer in the proper technique for holding and using an angle brush, please!! It's my favorite brush to use as I hate using the blue tape and must say I've grown fairly adept at straight lines if I don't drink too much coffee on painting day! I'm always looking to learn more. Thanks for your help!


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Honestly I would suggest trying a straight brush. It's much easier to make a straight line with a brush that doesn't have bristles of all different lengths. I'm sure I'm in the minority on that one and angle brushes are the best sellers among DIY'ers and painters alike...something I have never really understood. The only thing you will find is that angle brushes are good for getting into corners, but with some practice you can easily get into corners with a straight brush as well. You don't want to flat brush with either and you want to make sure the brush is loaded up well. Each dip of my brush can probably make about a 12" line before I need more paint...you don't want to peck at it.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Sorry, I can't explain how to hold the brush. The angle allows you to move along laying paint gradually. If you really want to know how to hold an angeled brush, try asking the folks at your local paint store. Surely they know how to use one.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I use that Shur-Line edger thing too. In fact, if I had to pick one painting "tool" that I couldn't live without, it would be that! That's the only "gizmo" that I've ever used that actually works.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I use a good quality angle brush (I like Purdy XL Dale Pro) and a steady hand. It's the only thing out of all the gadgets and gizmos out there that works for me ;) The bristle edges are thin, crisp, tight, and holding the brush comfortablly (typically means on a ladder high enough to be eye level, not reaching up) I make my cut in line with medium pressure (too heavy pressure makes bristles splay out and spread paint where you don't want it to go, too light and no paint gets on the wall). Just 'freehand' the line and when it's time to reload brush I don't lift the brush off the wall, I use a quick motion of sliding the brush down and away from the work area. I think I do this because it keeps even pressure on the line at all times and only when I'm sliding away do I begin to release pressure (it's a quick motion). If I lift the brush straight off the wall, somehow my hand sometimes goes spastic and pushes down a little before lifting away, and I get a goober spot. So that's why I do the slide and release motion, I suppose ;) A lesson from an art teacher: never, ever let paint get into the metal band that holds the bristles, once in there the paint, even a minute amount, will cause bristle splay. Clean brushes well with warm water and soap, a soft bristle brush like a baby's fingernail brush. Squeeze out excess water, pinch bristles between two fingers from ends to tips, reshaping bristle tips by pinching them tightly. Let it rest on its side, like the corner of a laundry sink, so bristles are in the open air. A good brush will last ages with a little care ;) I've done that 'faux' line that paintguy refers to in my bathroom. Where wall and ceiling met it was not a tight fit. So I freehanded the paint onto the ceiling by just a fraction, you have to really stare at it to see it ;)


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Great description moonshadow............my technique exactly!


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Please forgive me for not responding sooner. Family emergency. All is well now. Just wanted you to know that I have not had the opportunity to try any of the techniques suggested yet. I will check all our local paint stores for the types and brands of brushes recommended and give both the straight edge and the angled edge a try to see which works best. I did purchase one of the straight edge gizmo's and it was not a pretty picture. :) LOL If neither of the brushes work then it's a for sure that I'll be using an artist brush to get that paint up where it needs to be. It's that or in goes crown molding. :) That would solve the problem. Thank you for all the input on this. It's been enlightening and educational for me. I do appreciate all your help. I'll let you know when I try the suggestions which works best for me.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

You might also consider painting the ceiling a shade lighter than the walls so the contrast isn't as sharp.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Oh, wow! Thank you all for the paintbrush primer! Guess I need to practice with a flat brush to see if I might do better...but not sure I'm fully willing to give up old buddy angle brush. And yes, I learned a very long time ago to invest my money in good brushes and my time in good prep.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Purdy brushes have really made the difference in my painting...I'm a homeowner who has painted about 20 rooms in the past 5 years...(moved a lot)....the key is practice...practice on edges of trim...you eventually get the right angle and what feels "right" for you...I also repeat to myself "Cool Hand Luke"...never saw the movie but the phrasing really helps me as I'm going across a section! :)

I also dip the paint in and get a good amount on the brush...just allowing one bottom wipe against the can to take away drips...I then go to an inch of the ceiling, and do 3 brush strokes down to remove the excess and provide a smooth base for when I go for the line...with a 4 inch brush I can usually draw a 10-12 inch ceiling straight line, blend it in with the three swipes I did below it and continue on that way around the ceiling...
HTH!
Tara


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Do you use the same technique when you're painting around the trim work? Which do you paint first, the trim or the wall?

Laurie


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Trim first, then walls.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I have been reading several posts on how to make a straight line, and what I have to say will be easy, cheap and the results will rival any other suggestions mentioned here already.

First instead of buying the expensive blue tape( which I use only when needed), buy a roll of the masking tape and apply a short piece to see that it will not pull up your existing paint. If it does you will need to use the blue tape.

Next, mark your line with the masking (or blue) tape, but don't pull the tape when applying.

Then, when you apply your paint, perform a DRY method. Only get alittle paint on your brush. What you need to do before applying the tape is run your fingers ahead of brushing the paint to make sure everyting is sticking before the paint is applied. Remember, just barely apply the paint. Wait 10 minutes before applying another coat, each time applying the same amount. Remember DRY brush the next coating, resist trying to apply a regular coat. This time wait 20 minutes before applying another coat. This method usually needs 3 coats to equal ONE regular.

Remove the tape after the last coat.
I promise you, you will have a straight line all the time. My friends always compliment me on my paint job.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

moonshadow has the best advice in this thread. moonshadow is simply describing that the most fundamental part of painting a straight line is to let the brush it for you. The amount of pressure & the angle held will dictate how straight your line is along with your motion. It does take a lil practice though & paying close attention to whats happening.

As previously described i also paint onto the ceiling because you are more likely to notice ceiling paint on the wall edge than wall paint on the ceiling edge. I also do my trim lines onto the wall for the straightest looking lines. If the wall is too bumpy then I would make my line on the trim & not get onto the wall. Its also important to have nice caulk lines. Maybe there should be another thread on that all together.

I personally seldom use tape in any kind of brush work painting but thats cause I do this everyday. Sometimes you need to decide whether or not its worth trying all the gimmick stuff. You might find that this can multiply your labor & materials cost. For example if you can't paint windows well & have to use tape then you are prolly better off just painting onto the window & using a razor to clean up your lines. Don't do this on exteriors btw cause there you want the paint to seal in the window. You will spend hours trying to tape all of that & when you finish you sure aren't gonna feel like painting. Tape also tends to pull off fresh paint creating more hassles.

Here is my taping secret that I think goes a lil farther than what shaun just posted. This is the best way I know to achieve the straightest line using tape. Lets say I am painting base board. First thing prime & caulk everything & make sure your caulk has time to cure. Then paint your baseboard & go up onto the wall like a 1/4 or 1/2 inch (higher is ok too). Then tape off the baseboard with blue tape by slightly going onto the wall. Press it down with your finger nails or use a lil wallpaper seem roller. Here is the key point.....paint the top edge of the tape, yes on the wall side, with the same trim paint. This will seal the tape so that there will be no bleed from the different wall color. I either pull my tape when the paint is fresh or after it has cured a while & I pull it back almost parallel to the trim instead of pulling it perpendicular. Warming the tape with a blow dryer as you go will soften the glue on the trim & can help if thats being difficult.

Here are 2 pics of a modest bathroom with a limited budget that show a lil of both good caulking & straigt lines. These are before & after. I painted the stripes freehand cause thats faster for me than putting on tape & then pulling it off. I re grouted the tile & caulked to save a lil money on a new top & tub work. This shows that sometimes old dated tile can look pretty good.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I'm not sure exactly how I ended up on this thread, but I came across it a little while ago when I was doing some research to get ready to start a new round of painting.

In the past I have generally cut-in at the ceiling and around the trim freehand and have gotten a fairly straight line, but even with a medium-tone paint, the line can still be quite noticeable (especially when the wall-ceiling joint is not perfect). I guess I just figured I needed more practice.

So yesterday, I decided to try the "carry-the-wall-color-ever-so-slightly-onto-the-ceiling" technique and it has changed my painting-life! I was able to work soooooo much faster, and the line between the wall and the ceiling looks great! Such a simple solution... yet so perfect!

Wow! Thanks so much for the professional advice!


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Maybe it's just me but I get a better freehand line with a 3" brush than I do with a 1.5" trim brush. Counterintuitive but the extra bristles on the wall stabilize any "shakes". Don't move your wrist, move your arm.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

You can use a thin layer of caulk at the edges of the tape to prevent bleeding.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to paint straight lines on walls


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Answer: How do you get that perfect straight line?

How to Paint a straight line? Iv� been asked this question many times.
The term among professional painters for painting a straight line is "Cutting".
Cutting is a method used by professional painting company's such as Save on Painting Co. to paint a straight line on angles, most commonly where the wall meets the ceiling or the corner of a given area.

To properly cut a line the Pressure must be applied to the brush at an angle causing the bristles of the brush to thin and spread out.

Example: (Analogy1) If you take a any piece of flat paper, hold it flat against the wall and run it up the wall towards the angle (or ceiling)
once it hits the angle it stops and cant go further.
Seing that this paper is so thin ("like the spread out bristles of the brush when cutting")it virtually only touches the wall your running the paper up along" once it hits that angle it cant surpass it..

Other Factors: At Save on painting, http://www.saveonpainting.ca/ we only use quality brushes, these are essential to painting a straight line, a quality brush can run you upwards of $15 dollars and are not commonly available in most hardware stores.

Cutting Brushes are angled, ussualy made from nylon and most commonly 2.5 Inches in width.

Using tape: When tape is not used properly it can often lead to a false sense of security and essentially ruin a paint project.
the best Method for using tape is 1. Using the proper color coded tape according to the application which it is used for.
2. When u are coating the straight ling over or along tape the initial first time make sure to us very little paint. Paint in a motion slightly angled or away from the tape seam.
This initial first coat will cause the paint over the tape seam to cause a bonding inpeneteral layer. Now the tape cant bleed any more.
Make sure to remove the tape before the paint is dry.

For More information on this subject or hiring a Professional Painting Company / Contractor in Vancouver BC
such as Save on Painting Co. visit: http://www.interiorhomepainting.ca./

Hope this Helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Save on Painting Co.


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Just a "bit" of a sales pitch in that last post . . .


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Popcorn ceiling is white, wall has sand texture and will be olive. How do I get a straight line of olive green up next to the popcorn ceiling?


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

Interior Painting Tips from Tailored Painting � Your House Painting Denver and Fort Collins Painters Company.

When you�re doing interior painting, there are always new tips and techniques that will help you to do what you want to do. This little tip will help you to get perfect lines every time you go to paint indoors. For example, say you want to paint your living room and you want you ceiling to remain white while painting the walls a different access color. Here�s how to get perfect lines between the white ceiling and the new wall colors. (Tip: this will prevent the paint from running underneath the tape and leaving unsightly paint all over.

First step is to put tape along the ceiling as close to the wall as possible without having the tape on the wall itself.
Next, run a very, very small bead of caulk along the edge of tape and the wall surface and smooth it out with your finger. Only caulk one wall at at time and not the entire room; so as to not have the caulking dry.
Next, with a small roller, paint the caulked section of the wall the new color and then pull the tape off the wall immediately after painting so that the caulking does not have time to dry.
This little tip will allow you to work faster and have perfect lines every time; whether your working on trim, or ceiling lines.

Here is a link that might be useful: House Painting Denver


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

For me, the answer has been lots of practice over the years plus lots and lots of patience. Cutting in takes time! (For me, at least.)

Like paintguy, I don't use tape; I did when I first began painting, but it quickly became apparent that, unless the two planes met at perfect right angles and were straight to begin with, I was giving myself a non-straight line to follow. Not to mention, unless I followed the joined area perfectly, which I could not seem to do, I'd have many touchups to do anyway. In the end, it was faster just to do the job without tape.

Unlike paintguy and like moonshadow, I use an angled (Purdy) brush. The width doesn't matter to me, although I do use narrower brushes for tighter areas. My technique sounds very similar to moonshadow's as well. I also hold the brush so that I'm applying a bit more pressure to the bristles that are applying paint to the actual cutting-in line and less pressure to the bristles on the other side of the brush. This helps to naturally feather paint onto the wall (or ceiling).

I just finished cutting in a 30 foot line of wall paint that abuts an angled ceiling. Honestly, really truly, I don't plan to redo any of it. It looks very good!


A few more tips: after you've finished an area and have new paint on your brush, you want to paint into the paint that's already been applied, that is, do not paint a section, then start there and paint the next section. Instead, paint a section, then start at the END of the next section and paint BACK toward and into the previously painted bit, feathering lightly into the previous bit. To paint section by section back into previously applied paint, I have found that it's much easier to paint the cut-in line as a whole by working away from the direction of your dominant hand. Thus, since I am right-handed, when I started the cutting-in line on that 30 feet of wall, I started at the right corner and ended up at the end of the job at the left one, while painting each section from left to right. Had I been left-handed, I would have started at the left corner and ended up at the right one, painting each section from right to left.

Another tip is that it can sometimes help a lot to find something to rest your brush hand on as you work. In the case of the room with the 30 foot wall, I had the tops of molding to two windows and a double door's top molding. As I painted, I used the molding to steady the side and palm of my hand on the pinkie finger side. We did the wall by painting it first and then cutting in (people usually do the opposite -- cut in and paint, I think). Thus, to keep the paint on the still-uncured wall clean and unmarred, I steadied myself where there was no molding by VERY lightly using the tips of the fingernails of my left hand to stabilize myself....but only if necessary. Far better not to touch the wall at all.

Regardless of whether wall (or ceiling) had already been painted or not, if you do have to touch it for any reason, try to do so with the back of your hand, and lightly only. Generally the back of the hand is less dirty than the front and reduces the chance you'll get fingerprints on your surface.

When painting anything, I usually have a very wet paper towel at hand. When cutting-in at ceiling height, I usually keep it on the top of a ladder. If I do use it to clean up a mistake, I'll leave that area alone until completely dried and go back and touch up later on.

Another tip: to really reduce any difference in the appearance of paint applied with roller on wall or ceiling vs. the cut-in area, after the cut-in paint has dried, I'll follow the whole thing with a small roller. With a steady hand, it's possible to get within a fraction of an inch of the cut-in line. And again, as when using an angled brush to cut in, I apply slightly less pressure on the roller's outer edge. And again as well, I work section by section back into a previously painted section.

I also agree with paintguy about painting wall paint on the ceiling. I initially tried edging the wall-ceiling joint precisely. In the end, it was much easier to go a tiny fraction onto the ceiling. I estimate I did it by maybe an eighth of an inch, if that. From floor level, you can't tell at all.

Teeny artist brushes -- I now use those only in corners, where two surfaces are not straight, and in cases in which I must not get paint on a surface. Example: I had to cut in with the wall paint around the end of a stained, curved stair tread. I will be using one (along with a regular angled brush) when I paint a vertical piece of floor-to-ceiling molding that separates one of the walls in the room we're painting from a stone wall. The molding on the stone side was cut with a jig saw and follows the curved, natural line of the stones. Thus, I can't just use an angled brush along that edge. Whomever did the job initially painted the grout or caulk or wood fill or whatever it is along the stone (sigh), so now I'll have to do the same. Since I don't want paint on stone, I'll meticulously follow the previous paint job, using a tiny brush.

I actually had to do something similar when painting the master bedroom. Went from white walls to a mushroom color. The room has 16 wood ceiling beams set into the walls. Thus, two coats of wall color and 16 beams X 2 (beams ending in two walls) is the equivalent of 64 beams as it were! And of course, because the beams are set into the walls, there were three sides to each beams -- left, right, and bottom. To make it worse, on one wall, 5 beams were over an open stairwall. That part was a bit of a challenge....Suffice to say I am never repainting those walls!


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I recently read an article on a professional painter's website that had some good tips.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to paint clean lines


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RE: How do you get that perfect straight line?

I used the edger for years and loved it. It wouldn't work on textured surfaces though.
gramma jan


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Straight Lines

Straight Lines are hard to get right if you have two very high contrast colors and more difficult if the surface is textured. I created a how do video:

How to paint a straight line with chalk board paint. I hope this helps out..there are actually two projects in this video where I show the tape for a straight line method. I am not a pro video guy just a painting contractor in Seattle; so excuse the amateurism in the video.

Here is a link that might be useful: how to paint straight lines


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Taping for straight line picture

Step one is to tape off a line

Here is a link that might be useful: how to paint a straight line


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Taping for straight line picture

Use a laser level if nec.

Here is a link that might be useful: Laser level


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