Last weekend, I masked the edges of my bedroom walls with green
painter's tape, painted the ceiling, and took down the tape after the
paint was dry. So far so good. Yesterday I masked the edges of the
ceiling and painted the walls a different color from the ceiling.
This morning I took down the tape. As expected, there are places where
the second taping went slightly beyond the edges of the ceiling paint,
so I have some gaps to fill in. What's the best way to do that?
Also, along just one wall, the tape brought a couple of narrow strips of
ceiling paint down along with it. How can I best fill those channels? I
guess in both cases an important concern is filling the gaps to the same
depth as the finished surfaces. Or higher--I guess sanding afterwards is
Any tips for the future on preventing these problems? I'm going to be
tackling the trim next so I'm wondering how I can avoid these glitches.
My ceiling isn't textured. In any event, I don't trust my hand to be
that steady. When trying that in the past, I haven't been successful at
keeping the paint from crossing over the joint and, frankly, don't see
quite how to do it. Certainly not with a roller. With a brush I must be
unable to control the flair of the bristles that finely.
I'm embarrassed to say that I used one *with* the tape. The reason is
that I assumed it would be impossible to keep the wheels themselves
clean while loading the pad, and they would wind up leaving tracks on
the ceiling. That's because of the excess paint mentioned on the page
you cited. It gives a great tip about not starting at the edge! That
would have made a big difference.
You avoid them by not using tape.
Paint the ceiling first. If a little ceiling paint gets on the wall, don't
worry about it.
Next, you "cut in" the walls. This is done by using a good brush, loading
it with paint, then making a horizontal stroke across the joint. You start
out just below the ceiling, bring the brush up to it, and pull straight
across. It will be very close to perfect. Does perfect matter? no.
It is a visual thing. They eye will easily see that ceiling paint that is
1/4" down on the wall. The eye won't notice the wall paint that comes up a
tiny bit at the ceiling joint.
Just use a small brush to go over the spots that you pulled down. After it
dries, I doubt you will see the imperfection. None of your guests ever
will. Oh, sanding will probably make things worse.
One of those designers on Trading Spaces uses rope. He nailguns it to
the where the walls meet the ceiling with small nails. Looks good.
Cheap and easy and quick. We recently remodeled my disabled brother's
room. Someone threw away the smaller brushes, so I had to paint the
trim with a cheapie 4 inch brush! But I have a steady hand. Too lazy
to go to the hardware store! I did the whole project for $500. Remmant
carpet with installation was $350. Paint, materials, shelving system,
misc. was $150. Bang for the buck.
The correct way is to cut in with a brush.
I think the quality of the brush is more important that than the technique.
You need to spend at least 15 to 20 dollars for a good angled trim 2 inch
brush. A larger brush is easier to control than a smaller one. I have a 2"
Linzer nylon polyester brush that is tapered. To use the brush you have to
finesse the brush into the corner.
I agree with Cliff. I like to use a 2 1/2" sash brush for all my trim
work. A sash brush has the bristles cut at an angle. I like china
bristles (mix of synthetic and natural). On a good brush, the bristles
have split ends. They fray slightly at the tip and feel very soft.
Hand edging is very forgiving if you know how to lay the bristles in.
My hands are never steady - I drink lots of coffee - and I can't
draw a straight line to save my life. My edging, however, always comes
Here's my $0.02 on it. If anyone wants to disagree on anything I say
here then please do. I'm always looking to learn something new.
Never load your brush more than a third and always keep paint out of
the ferrell. The ferrell is the part where the bristles go into the
If you let your brush sit, even for 5 minutes, wrap it in plastic.
Store bags work well for this.
Wash your brush once an hour (described below). Washing takes less
than five minutes if you keep the paint in the lower third. Brush care
is important, because if the paint gets stiff then the bristles will
clump together (bad).
Load the brush and swipe one half on the edge of the can. Don't get
enthusiastic about this; just swipe it lightly. The edge with the
paint will be the business end. I'll call it the top.
If you punch a few holes in the rim of your can, paint won't make a
mess and run down the side. Don't worry, they won't hurt the seal.
Paint a swipe onto the wall with the top and swipe the same spot with
the bottom. This forces the paint evenly into the bristles and gets
that big drippy gob of paint off the tip.
This is the part that's a little hard to describe without photos, but
I'll try. Grip the brush at the part where the handle widens out.
Hold it like a pencil. Put the heel of your hand on the surface like
you're going to write. Place what I called the "top" of the
brush to the wall. The brush should be at around a 30 to 45 degree
angle to the surface. The angle on the sash brush should be parallel
with the corner.
Now, touch the bristles to the wall about a 1/4" shy of your target,
and move into the line. You should be "stabbing", or "poking"
the bristles into the corner and they should bend slightly away as you
move along the line. No wrist in this movement. Use your entire arm.
Slowly swipe along the corner. As you do this, you shouldn't be
laying more than a half inch of paint. You just want the tips of the
bristles to touch the surface. The sides do nothing for you. When
used properly, a brush acts like a fountain pen. It "draws" the
paint onto the wall.
"Feather" out your strokes by quickly following behind and knocking
down any paint "ridges" left on the surface. Just smooth it out by
smearing it across the wall. That way, your brush work won't show
under the roller work.
When it runs dry, do the same thing again. Pick up where you left off,
start a 1/4" shy, cut in. Nothing to it.
You might experiment with painting toward you (reach out, move in), and
painting away from you. Different situations call for different
Master this technique, and you'll forever be glad. It saves lots of
When you wash the brush, the trick that works for me is to submerge it
in water instead of just letting a faucet run over it. I have an old
Pyrex casserole dish that I fill and stab the brush into vigorously a
few times. Drain it, refill it, and shake most of the water our the
brush out while it's filling. Repeat. I usually do this 5 or 6
times. You know you're done when the water stays perfectly clear.
It's pretty fast.
Last step is to spin the brush. This is tough to do the first time,
but not hard once you get it. Put the handle flat between your palms
and rub them together like you're trying to warm them on a cold day.
The brush will spin very quickly, expelling the water as it goes.
You'll drop it a lot first, but you eventually learn how much pressure
Reshape the bristles, and let it dry. Store it in its original
packaging. A properly cared for brush can last a lifetime --
AMEN AMEN Take care of your brushes!!
I don't know why it's SO hard to get people to take good care of their
brushes. Maybe because they don't know how to properly clean and shape
a brush they buy cheap junk brushes and they get a cheap junk looking
The quality of the brush is just as important as skill in using it -
learning how to load a brush with paint and how NOT to scrape paint off
of it (tap it off) makes all the difference in the world too.
I paint ceiling color down the side of the wall a few inches, let it
dry and then I hand paint/cut in my wall color only up to about 1/4"
below the ceiling/wall joint. This way I can paint a perfectly (or
close to perfect) straight line (I have yet to see a ceiling/wall joint
that is straight) along/just below the ceiling/wall joint It is a
wonderful effect and really plays with light nicely.
If you DO use tape, paint the wall color first up onto the ceiling
(just a little) and let it dry, then use Scotch or 3M BLUE painters
tape to make a straight horizontal line just below the ceiling line.
After getting the tape line nice and straight (use one long piece of
tape if possible) BURNISH the tape line in with the end of the handle
of your brush. Take the wall color and paint over the tape line (not
too wet) and let it dry. Now paint your ceiling paint down from the
ceiling down ONTO the tape. When you peel it off there won't be any
paint run under the tape (since you sealed it by burnishing it and
painting the wall color on it) Be sure to peel it off as soon as
possible (paint dry) so the tape will still come off easily.
Take tape off before the paint dries - when dry, the paint film is part
of the tape and might pull off with the tape.
Press down edges of the tape so paint doesn't get under it.
When painting adjoining surfaces different colors, I wait until the
first dries a few days (so tape doesn't pull it off).
When removing tape, don't pull it straight out from the surface. Pull
it back on itself.
Unless you pulled out some joint compound, you shouldn't need to "fill"
anything (depth wise). I would just touch up straight edge with the
right color. If you can still see a dip (from the floor), patch with
spackle when paint is dry and touch it up when the spackle is dry.
First, you must learn to cut in ceilings by hand. Don't use tape. With a
little practice, you'll be doing fine. After a few weeks, you'll stop
noticing your minor screw-ups. Major screw-ups should be addressed,
Second, there are some ceiling lines out there that defy a straight line.
You'll only see this if you stand back and look at it; it won't necessarily
be obvious as you're painting. The way to tackle this problem is to
purposely run the wall paint a bit high on the ceiling. Then, *tape the
wall*. Run as straight of a line as possible with the tape at the top of
the wall, as close to the ceiling as you can without jeopardizing your line.
Then, since ceiling paint is flat, you can repaint the border of the
ceiling. The result will be a perfect straight line. It's a little bit
more work, but some customers are worth it.
If you have a situation where you pull tape and the tape in turn pulls
paint, you'll need to sand the area lightly (no heavy sanding on fresh
paint - you'll get gum) and knife in some spackle. You know what to do from
I think it best to paint the trim before the walls, as that is the best way
to get straight lines where the wall meets the trim.
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