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Interior Painting: Application with Brush and Roller

When painting with a roller, maintain a “wet edge” and work into the previously painted area.

When priming and/or painting walls, the first step is to paint the edges. If using painter’s tape, avoid pushing paint into the tape with the brush, which can cause the paint lines to bleed.

Most professional painters cut in the edges with only a paint brush, using no tape. To do so, dip the brush only 1 to 2 inches into the paint to load it. Use the brush to draw a straight line roughly 2 inches wide to separate two paint colors—such as a wall bordering the ceiling or door casing. Begin by letting the paint brush open up into a semi-oval and bring it into the line you are cutting. Apply as little pressure to the bristles as possible. Always keep the brush fully loaded and follow the line until the paint begins to break up. Then repeat, working into the previously painted area. This technique is usually performed while the painter holds their breath, and it’s more difficult to get right than it sounds.

Keep a damp cloth handy so you can wipe away drips and mistakes immediately before the paint dries.

When cutting in a paint project, work out of a small container rather than the paint can. This reduces mess and contaminants, and helps to keep the brush loaded with only a small, workable amount of paint.

To complete the field of the wall, use a paint roller. Extension handles of varying lengths can make application by roller easier and more ergonomic. For best results, apply the paint in successive columns. With a loaded roller, proceed along the wall painting one column at a time–one stroke all the way up, another all the way down, then back up again for each column. Move on to the next column. After three columns, it’s important to back-roll the paint back into the new coating, maintaining a wet edge on the wall. It is this back-rolling technique that achieves the millage of the paint, which is the even and continuous thickness of the coating. Working back into the previously painted area will help avoid lap marks. For a seamless finish, paint one wall completely before moving on to another.

Remove any painter’s tape while the paint is still wet. For further coats, reapply new tape.

Allow the paint to dry before applying further coats. Keep in mind that although your paint container says the paint dries in 2 hours, that indication is for conditions of 70 degrees and 70-percent humidity. In low humidity, paint can dry in less than an hour. In high humidity, it can take a whole day. Not waiting to apply the second coat can result in peeling paint or visible brush strokes.

For trim work like crown molding and baseboards, sand the surface between coats for an ultra-smooth finish. This will prevent a grainy texture and prevent any underlying paint color or sheen from showing through.

Two coats of topcoat always achieve best results. All paint “covers” in one coat, but doesn’t necessarily “hide” in one coat. This can be a function of the surface and application or color. Apply two coats for maximum millage and durability.

Cleanup & Storage

During your project, wrap paintbrushes tightly in kitchen foil or cling film so air can’t get to them, and they’ll be ready for use later.

After your project is over, clean your brushes with water and a “brush comb” to remove any traces of paint and align the bristles before they dry. Add a little fabric softener to your water for cleaning brushes and rollers to help release paint better than soap. Then, store your brushes in their original covers or plastic film.

If you store leftover paint in a dry, temperature-controlled room, it should last until the can rusts. Avoid storing in the attic where it can get too hot or in an outdoor shed where it can freeze. Air exposure will dry out paint, so it might help to transfer leftover paint into a smaller container for long-term storage.

After the paint project is complete, avoid washing your walls with a damp cloth until two weeks after the final coat dries.

Of course, projects don’t always go as planned, and accidents can happen. There’s no point in crying over spilled latex paint. The keys to complete stain removal are speed and lots of water. As Richard Hamilton of Home Fix Up, is fond of saying: “Dilution is the solution!” Fast blotting with an absorbent towel and repeated rinsing can work, even on carpet. Use a shop vac (with filter removed) to suction away the thinned paint and water from the spill.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Be sure to check out the other two articles in our painting series:

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