Anybody can slap up a new colour to freshen up their walls, but few amateurs can do a professional-looking job. Your brain tells you that a straight line along the top of the baseboard is easy, but your hand doesn’t seem to get the message. The result is uneven lines and drips.
I’ve known painters who don’t use masking tape — ever — and I think of them with envy every time I get my hands wrapped in a spool of sticky tape moments before stepping on the wet side of the paint can lid. I’ve talked to lots of pros about technique and tried most of the gizmos on the market that claim to give you the full coverage and crisp lines we strive so hard to achieve.
In addition to the brushes, rollers, trays and drop sheets that every job requires, some manufacturers have released edging tools that promise to make cutting the edges of the walls a breeze. These rectangular brush pads are fixed to plastic holders that have rollers on the side, to glide along a ceiling or baseboard and keep the paint from going where it’s not wanted. They may work brilliantly in a new, perfectly square home, but they fall short in my older house, with its settled walls and uneven surfaces. The main issue is getting the proper amount of paint evenly onto the pad. Too much leaves you with a rim of paint along the edge, and too little doesn’t reach as far as you want it to. Some versions come with their own tray and grate for wiping off the excess paint. Mine didn’t, which forced me to use a shaky hand and brush to attempt to remove the lip I left behind. A corner painting tool that looks like a fuzzy pastry cutter is also on the market. It aims to evenly paint room corners with no drips or bare spots.
experts are now changing their advice about cutting around a room. Conventional wisdom says you cut first along ceilings, baseboard and in corners and then fill in. But the new approach suggests cutting last and only once, over the edge of the fresh wall colour. Many experts still advise filling in a wall using the “W” method: roll a large W on a square of the wall and fill that in with random rolls before moving on to another square, and so on. This technique eliminates the lines often left behind after rolling straight up and down.
paint that starts out as another colour is a brilliant invention. Several manufacturers offer a ceiling white that goes on blue or pink and dries to flat white. I will never use another ceiling cover after trying this product because it eliminates all guessing about what you’ve painted and what’s left to do. For ceilings and high walls, it’s worth purchasing a tool to extend your roller, unless a removable broom handle will tightly attach to the roller handle. If you covet a cutting brush that’s got a pointy middle, get one. Make the job as easy as you can, because it isn’t always so simple once you get going. And you get what you pay for: I once bought a package of cheap, supposedly lint-free rollers that left the equivalent of a hamster on my walls.
only way I will paint a room these days is if I have no deadline to meet. I’ve been known to take a couple of weeks to do a two-day job, painting only when I feel like it. My work doesn’t measure up to that of a pro, so I limit my efforts to infrequently used rooms and hire a real painter to do the busier parts of my home.