Tip 1: To avoid lap marks, roll the full height of the wall and keep a wet edge
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Roll the full height of the wall
Lap marks are those ugly stripes caused by uneven layers of paint
buildup. They occur when you roll over paint that’s already partly
dry. (In warm, dry conditions, latex paint can begin to stiffen in
less than a minute!) The key to avoiding lap marks is to maintain
a “wet edge,” so each stroke of your roller overlaps the previous
stroke before the paint can begin to dry.
To maintain a wet edge, start near a corner and run the roller
up and down the full height of the wall, moving over slightly with
each stroke. Move backward where necessary to even out thick
spots or runs. Don’t let the roller become nearly dry; reload it
often so that it’s always at least half loaded. Keep the open side of
the roller frame facing the area that’s already painted. That puts
less pressure on the open side of the roller, so you’re less likely to
leave paint ridges
Tip 2: Mix several cans of paint in a large bucket for a consistent color throughout the room
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Mix paint in a large bucket
Once paint is dry, you can’t just pull the tape off the trim. Paint
forms a film between the wall and the tape, and removing the
tape tears pieces of dried paint off the wall. So before pulling off
the tape, cut it loose.
Wait for the paint to completely dry, at least 24 hours,
then use a sharp utility knife or box cutter knife to slice
through the film. Start in an inconspicuous area to
make sure the paint is hard enough to slice
cleanly. If you cut the paint while it’s still
gummy, you’ll make a mess. As you
cut the paint, pull up the tape at a
Paint color may vary slightly from one can to the next. If you have
to open a new can in the middle of a wall, the difference may be
noticeable. Mixing the paints together eliminates the problem. It’s
best to estimate the amount of paint you’ll need and mix it in a
5-gallon bucket (a process called “boxing”).
When coverage is difficult to estimate, add
more rather than
less. You can always
pour the leftover
back into cans.
For large jobs, use
the bucket and a
roller screen rather
than a roller tray. It’s
much faster to load
your roller with the
screen than to use a
roller pan. Simply dunk
the roller into the paint
bucket, then roll it
along the screen until
it stops dripping.
Tip 3: Let the paint dry, then cut the tape loose for a perfect edge
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Cut tape when paint is dry
Tip 4: Paint the trim ﬁrst, then the ceiling and walls
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Paint the trim first
Prime and texture wall
Pros usually follow a certain order when painting a room. They
paint the trim first, then the ceiling, then the walls. That’s because
it’s easier (and faster) to tape off the trim than to tape off the
walls. And you certainly don’t want to tape them both off!
When painting the trim, you don’t have to be neat. Just concentrate on getting a smooth finish on the wood. Don’t worry if the
trim paint gets onto the walls. You’ll cover it later when painting
the walls. Once the trim is completely painted and dry (at least 24
hours), tape it off (using an “easy release” painter’s tape), then
paint the ceiling, then the walls.
Tip 5: Prime and texture wall patches to avoid a blotchy ﬁnish
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Freshly painted walls often look blotchy
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Roll on primer over patches
Freshly painted walls often look
blotchy. The color is uniform, but
the sheen isn’t consistent. This
usually occurs over the holes and
cracks you patched with a filler or
drywall compound. The porous fillers
absorb the paint, dulling the surface (a
problem called “flashing”). When light hits these
dull spots, they stick out like a sore thumb. The smooth patch
also stands out in contrast to the slightly bumpy texture of the
rest of the wall. A quick coat of primer is all it takes to eliminate
ﬂashing and texture differences.
Primer seals the patch so paint won’t sink in and look dull. To
match texture, prime with a roller, feathering out the edges.
Choose a nap thickness to match the surrounding wall texture (a 3/8-in. nap roller for smooth walls; 1/2-in. for textured).
Tip 6: Clean dirty surfaces so the paint can form a strong bond
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Clean dirty areas before painting
If you paint over dirty, oily surfaces, the paint will easily chip or
peel off. So before painting, clean grimy areas with a deglosser or
heavy-duty cleaner intended for prepaint cleaning. They work well
to clean painted, varnished or enameled surfaces to improve the
adhesion of the new paint. They’re ideal for cleaning greasy or oily
areas like kitchen and bathroom walls and removing hand marks
around light switches and doorknobs.
Wipe on the cleaner in a circular motion using
a lint-free cloth or abrasive pad. Start at the bottom and work up. After the surface is clean, fill in
any nicks and holes, then sand them smooth
before painting. The cleaners are available at paint
stores and home centers. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
Tip 7: Roll paint along the edges for consistent texture
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Roll out paint near trim
Corners and areas next to trim that are
painted only with a brush have a notice-
ably different texture than the surrounding
paint. To ensure the finished texture will
be consistent in these areas, brush on the
paint, then immediately roll it out before
the paint dries.
Use a 3-in. roller with a nap that’s the
same thickness as the roller used for the
rest of the wall. Roll as close as you can
without bumping the opposite wall or
slopping paint onto the trim. Finish brushing on the paint and rolling it out in one area before moving on to the next section.
Tip 8: Use cotton drop cloths rather than plastic
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Protect floor with cotton drop cloth
Spills and spatters happen, regardless of
how careful you are. It’s a lot easier to pre-
pare for them than to wipe them out of
your carpeting or off your wood floor later.
All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your
work area (a 4-ft. x 15-ft. cloth costs $15).
The thick canvas stays in place, so you
don’t need to tape it, and you can use it to
cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are
slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and
don’t stay in place. Even worse, paint spills
on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on
your shoes and get tracked through the
house. Canvas is slippery on hard ﬂoors,
so rosin paper ($10 for 400 sq. ft. at home
centers) is better over vinyl, tile and hard-
wood. Tape the sheets together and to the
ﬂoor to provide a nonslip surface.
But even with canvas or rosin-paper
drop cloths, large spills still need to get
wiped up right away or they’ll seep
through. Clean spills with paper towels or
cloth rags. Likewise, if you splatter paint
on any other surface,wipe it up immediately.
Tip 9: Feather out paint where you can't keep a wet edge
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Feather paint with a dry roller in large areas
You can’t cover large areas like ceilings,
extra-tall walls or stairwells in single,
continuous strokes, so the best way to
minimize lap marks on these areas is to
feather out the paint along the edges that
you can’t keep wet. The thinner, feathered
coat of paint will avoid the buildup that
causes the lap mark.
To paint a large section without leaving
lap marks, roll the nearly dry roller in
different directions along the dry edge,
feathering out the paint as you go. After
completing the entire length of the wall or
ceiling, move to the next section and paint
over the feathered edges. For the second coat,
apply the paint in the opposite direction.
This crisscrossing paint application sharply reduces (if not eliminates) lap marks.
Tip 10: Sand trim between coats for an ultra-smooth ﬁnish
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Sand trim for a smooth finish
One coat of paint usually won’t hide the underlying color and sheen on trim. And if you don’t sand the surface
smooth between coats, the finish may have a grainy texture. For a smooth finish, sand the trim before applying each coat of paint.
Sand the trim with a fine-grit sanding sponge. Sponges get into crevices where sandpaper
can’t go and let you apply even pressure. Then apply the ﬁrst coat of paint, let it
dry at least 24 hours, lightly sand it again for a completely smooth
surface, and apply the second coat. After each sanding,
vacuum the trim, then wipe it down with a
tack cloth to remove the dust.