On the list of life’s frustrations is spending your weekend painting a room, only to discover it looks as if your five year old tried her hand at the job. Swishy brush strokes or streaks mar a finished paint treatment, ruining the visual aesthetic you desire. When planning to put your home on the market or to simply improve a room’s ambiance, there are a few tips of the painting trade that allow for a more professional finish, even when you’re the nonprofessional at the other end of the brush.
- Choose a matte- or flat-finish paint for your walls. Higher gloss finishes, such as satin or semi-gloss, dry with a sheen, which highlights painting strokes that aren’t fully blended. Additionally, consider investing in the highest quality paint you can afford as some inexpensive paints are prone to drying in a streaky finish because of their ingredients. Unmixed or cheap paint and tools might save you dollars at the store, but you’ll lose those savings in frustration and headaches when the job isn’t finished to your satisfaction and must be redone.
- Repair any holes or gouges by filling the holes with spackling putty. A small amount placed on the tip of a putty knife will fill most nail holes or gouges. Once the hole is filled, use the flat edge of the putty knife to scrape away excess putty so it dries flush with the wall. Any dried bumps or smears will make paint appear more pronounced.
- Affix painter’s tape along baseboards or crown moldings and around windows or door frames to protect surfaces that should not be painted. Painter’s tape is formulated so it does not pull existing paint or finish from the wall when it is removed and it prevents unwanted drips or spills from marring other surfaces.
- Open the paint can with the opener supplied by the paint store. If you need to replace the lid to protect unused paint for another day, the lid should close tightly to keep air and organisms out so it will match any previously applied paint. The right opener won’t bend the lid and prevent it from sealing properly.
- Stir the paint for about 60 seconds with the stir stick. Although your paint was mixed at the store, some of the blended pigments might have separated, which causes streaks in the finished look.
- Cut in all the wall borders at the ceiling, floor and corners with an angled brush. Hold your hand steady and pull the brush along the wall so it fans with the upper tip of the angle creating a straight edge.
- Rinse the paint from your brush when the wall borders are painted and hang the brush to dry from a peg or hook so excess water will drip from the brush.
- Roll the roller cover in the paint pan until it is saturated. Roll out the excess paint on the raised portion of the pan until the cover doesn’t drip when it is lifted. The cover, though, must remain evenly saturated on all sides so no uneven strokes are left behind.
- Apply the paint by rolling a 3-foot-high “M” or “W” shape — no other alphabet characters provide quite the structure required — and fill in the empty spaces of the letter until a 3-foot-square is created. Position the roller so the closed end is moving in the direction you are painting and so you don’t press the roller too hard or too lightly along the wall, creating streaks. An even hand repeats this pattern until the wall is one solid swath of color.
- Allow the paint to dry overnight before rolling on a second coat of paint. Two coats should always be your mantra as one coat is rarely enough to complete the look and is often the culprit for a streaky finish. Additionally, if you’ve chosen a particularly bold color, three coats or more might be required.
Things You Will Need
- Matte or flat paint
- Spackling putty
- Putty knife
- Painter’s tape
- Paint can opener
- Paint stir stick
- Angled paint brush
- 3/8-inch nap roller cover
- Roller frame
- Paint pan
- Stir the paint every 20 to 30 minutes to blend any floating pigments that have settled since the previous stir.
- Paint on sunny days so you can examine your handiwork as you paint, minimizing any uneven strokes which will appear as streaks.
- Try to time your painting jobs so you are painting when it’s not too hot outside. Hot air dries paint quickly, showing more roller and brush marks.
- Rinse the roller cover thoroughly and allow it to dry before painting the next day.