Home Improvement: Painting a Straight Line on Textured Walls (a Pro Painter’s Secret)

We have been painting and painting aaaaaaand painting lately.  I have stopped caring that there are always paint spots on my hands, in my hair, random smears on my arms, and paint marks that have been all over the soles of my feet for days.  I always wash up (and yes, I take showers…ha!) but if it doesn’t come off easily…….I’ve stopped scrubbing.  Because tomorrow always brings more paint. :)

 

But this painting thing has been doing wonders for the mood in our new home.  I can’t believe how satisfying it has been to paint this place.  Yeah, painting takes a while…….but our motivation has been so different this time around.  I guess because it’s our very own home.  Eeeeeeh…..still can’t believe it! :)

 

Right after we moved in, we hired a painter to come in and paint the vaulted ceilings.  There’s no way Steve and I were climbing a ladder to paint really high, all bent in funny positions.  We’re both a little woozy (and wimpy) when heights are involved……so we hired out for the tall rooms to be painted on the main level.  And while our painter guy was here, we sorta eavesdropped on his technique.  While he was taping walls off and painting ceilings, and painting one wall different from the next, we were curious about how he was getting such STRAIGHT lines on our textured walls.

 

So we asked.

 

And he told us the “painter’s secret’s”.  (Nice guy……and well worth the money, just for these tips. ;) )  And now, ever since he shared, we’ve been using his little secrets…….as we’ve been painting our little hearts out, to give the entire house a fresh coat of paint.

 

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Just check out those crisp clean lines on that textured “orange peel” wall texture.  Wow.

 

And there’s not only one secret we learned……but TWO!!! 

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Our house has all sorts of different walls/ceilings/heights.  And crooked lines would be so obvious.  We’re so happy with how all these paint lines are turning out. 

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Straight lines aren’t just for the professionals.  We can all master them.  Promise.

 

Want in on the Straight Line SECRET?

 

Like I mentioned above, there are 2 methods to these straight paint lines.  I prefer the first method…but there are times when I’m not able to use the first method, so the 2nd method works great too. 

 

Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.

 

METHOD 1 (if you’re painting both surfaces that are meeting, 2 different colors)

Example: You are painting the walls and ceiling 2 different colors.  OR, you’re painting 2 touching walls, 2 different colors, and have the paint for both.

 

We have been painting all of our ceilings white.  (I know, some hate this choice…….but I LOVE white ceilings. They just seem to make my rooms look bigger and brighter.) So, to use this technique, I painted the ceilings white and overlapped onto the walls just a bit.  Then, I let the ceilings dry completely.  Next, I taped off the walls, by placing tape on the ceilings right along the edges.

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Then, I used my CEILING PAINT and painted along the edge of the tape that meets up with my walls.  The reason why, is that your ceiling paint is then able to seep under the edges of the tape that weren’t able to seal completely because of the textured surfaces.  But, since it’s the same paint color, it’s seeping into those cracks and it’ll blend in with the ceiling.  And you’ll never even notice.  So, all you need to do is paint a narrow line right along the edge of the tape (and it can overlap onto the wall…..no biggee).  But be sure it’s enough paint to fill in those little gaps where the tape can’t quite reach.

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Then, I let it dry completely.  While it was drying, I started to paint my wall color with a roller and just left a gap at the top where the tape was.

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After that narrow strip of ceiling paint was dry, I then grabbed my wall paint and painted right over the top of it, filling in the gap on the wall where I hadn’t painted yet.  And just keep in mind, the tape is still there……so it’s still keeping the wall paint off the ceiling.

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Now, you don’t have to let the wall paint dry before pulling off the tape.  In fact, it’s better if you don’t.  Because when it dries, the tape becomes a bit more stuck and the paint lines become more rigid.  You won’t ruin it if you wait…..but I have just had better luck if I pull off the tape while the paint is still wet.

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As you pull, you will see your perfectly straight line appear.  And LOOK……no leaks!!!!

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Also, if you look closely at your tape, you’ll see the paint that seeped under the cracks of the tape.  And that’s why this works…….it’s only the white ceiling paint that seeped under, blocking the wall paint from leaking.

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****If you happen to have a little leak of your second color (in my case, my wall paint) leak under the tape, and you notice it after pulling the tape back…….go ahead and touch it up and paint over it.  However, this should happen very rarely.  And all it takes is a little dab of paint……..not a steady hand trying to re-create a line or something.

 

The time we have saved doing this has been incredible.  And our lines have been gorgeous!!

. . . . .

 

 

Onto the other technique, which I only use if I don’t have both paint colors to do the above technique…..and that’s because this next technique takes more time and a little more precision.  But our painter used this one primarily……because he was really good at it.  And fast!

 

METHOD 2 (if you’re only using 1 paint color and will be meeting up with another previously painted color):

Example: Your ceiling is already painted and you are just wanting to paint the walls…….and you don’t have the ceiling paint to do the above technique.

 

The secret here is PAINTABLE and CLEAR caulk.  Yep, that’s right…..caulk!

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What you do, is tape off the wall you want to paint……just like I did above.  (And I’m just using the same ceiling that I demonstrated for the 1st technique. But the only time I do this, is if I don’t have the ceiling color or joining wall color that I’m painting next to………because I can be a little less cautious with the first method.)

 

Then, apply a line of caulk right next to the edge of tape.

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And if it’s not a straight line of caulk……no biggee.  Because what you’re going to do is use your finger and smear it into that edge of the tape.  You’re wanting to seal up the line so that there are no more cracks for the paint to seep under.  But you don’t want it to be lumpy or messy because once you paint over it, you’ll see those lumps and mess.  So, keep it nice and smooth with your finger, as you try to guide that caulk into those cracks. 

HINT: Have a towel handy to wipe off your finger, so the caulk doesn’t dry on your finger.

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Then, paint over the caulk and tape, just like you would normally.  And then pull off the tape, before the caulk dries, so that it doesn’t permanently glue the tape to the wall.

 

And that’s it.

 

Either technique works and both should NOT be kept a secret! :)

 

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Just think………beautiful paint lines that you’ll be SO PROUD OF!!!!!

 

Good luck!

-Ashley

 

 

 

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Comments

43 Responses to “Home Improvement: Painting a Straight Line on Textured Walls (a Pro Painter’s Secret)”
  1. 1
    Kristin says:

    Great tips Ashley! Do you know if there are any tips out there for keeping the paint from running on fabric when using freezer paper stencils? I was thinking maybe fabric mod podge, but don’t want something that is going to really adhere the stencil to the fabric, just keep the paint from seeping under the edges that somehow don’t get totally ironed down. Any ideas would be awesome!

  2. 2
    Joy says:

    Wish i knew this before I painted my bathroom…oh well, the next room will look better!

  3. 3
    Sarah says:

    Woah. I want to repaint my house now. I am the one who got stuck with all those ceiling/wall meeting joints because I am so picky! I can’t wait to try this! Thank you!

  4. 4
    Jessica Tant says:

    I am so glad you posted this! My husband and I are in the process of remodeling out house and this will come in handy. Thank you so much!

  5. 5
    Julia says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share these great tips with us!! I’ve used the 2nd technique before in our house but I really like the ease of your first method. I am painting most of our house and just put 5 gallons of gray on the walls last week and still have the main floor to do! Can’t wait to implement these tips! Your house looks great and can’t wait to see the gray finished.

  6. 6
    Lyndi says:

    So helpful! Thanks for sharing! We’re just about to paint our master bedroom walls and vaulted ceilings, so this will come in handy. I did always wonder how to get those straight lines!

  7. 7

    Holy! This is so helpful, thanks so much for sharing these tips… they’re great!
    xoxo

  8. 8
    AmyB says:

    Our painter painted the ceiling then after it was dry, taped it off and painted a non glossy polyurethane in the crack of the ceiling and the wall. It sealed the crack so that when you painted the wall the paint did not seep under the tape. I also have read that painting mod podge in the crack of the tape also works. Use flat…not glossy mod podge. But since you already have the ceiling paint I would probably use that as well. Great tips!!!!

  9. 9
    Marywa1234 says:

    Genius!

  10. 10
    ShirleyG says:

    Love this! Two questions – (1) does this work with a 20-year old popcorn textured ceiling? (2) What color grey is that? I love it!

  11. 11
    Anna says:

    Whoa whoa whoa…I NEED to know what color blue that is in the top pictures! I’ve been looking for the perfect blue for my living room for forever. There are currently five color samples on my wall (two others have already been ruled out) and I just can’t commit to any of them. But that blue of yours looks like it might be just what I’ve been waiting for. Please oh please share!

  12. 12
    Rachel says:

    My husband and I just finished painting our whole house and for the downstairs we did not know about the first tip that you mentioned, then I came across a link on Pinterest that showed how to do that and I did that for the upstairs rooms and will never go back to just taping again. I almost want to go around and redo the edges of my walls downstairs but that will have to wait! Great tip! Hope you’re about done, I know I was sick of painting by the time we got the walls done and I still have more trim to paint.

  13. 13
    Holly says:

    I found the first painting tip online when we were painting out first child’s room! It helped so much because we did the room in three colors (one on top, one on bottom, and one down the middle of the two). I did not know the second one, but will use it next time we paint bc I’m not painting ceilings! They are already white so that helps!

  14. 14
    Kiersten says:

    I wish I would have known these tricks when we moved into our house 3 years ago! We painted every surface, and stupidly I think every corner of the entire house has to cut into a different color of paint. And for every one of those corners, I used a brush and a steady hand. And they still don’t look great. Thanks for the tips!

  15. 15
    Amanda :) says:

    YAY, great tip!

  16. 16
    birdy boots says:

    WOW! This is great, thank you!!

  17. 17
    Runt says:

    Thanks for these great tips! Who doesn’t paint their ceilings white?!!?

  18. 18
    TammyO says:

    Amazing!

  19. 19

    OMG!! Why didn’t I think of this????? What a fabulous idea, thanks so much for sharing this tip, and kudos to the painter that shared it with you, I have painted most of my ceilings in Behr’s Status Bronze (I live in a townhouse so only have windows in front and back so middle tends to be dingy and dark- the bronze reflects light just enough to open it up, my walls on the main floor are rich or bright colors too and where my walls meet the ceilings (which aren’t straight to begin with-old plaster) it is not the most professional looking job-this tip will be most helpful when I tackle the kitchen which is the last room on main floor that needs to be painted and I can go back and fix some of the more obvious bleeds using this tip. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! P.S. Avon’s Skin So Soft will take that paint right off your skin, no problem-that’s my tip for you, learned from experience.

  20. 20
    Brayden says:

    Yesterday my wife and I painting our bedroom following this tips. Thanks to the house painter who sharing this secret tips.

  21. 21
    Megan G. says:

    OMG!!!!!! My life has been revolutionized. Those lines (and textured walls/ceilings) have been the bane of my existence. Thank you!!

  22. 22
    Julie Trout says:

    Can I ask what brand/color of gray you used on your walls in the photos from this post? Wanting to paint our bedroom gray and this looks like such a great color!

    Thanks!
    Julie

  23. 23
    Kate says:

    This is awesome!!!

  24. 24
    Becca says:

    I used the caulk method to do my stripes in my son’s room. It worked great. When I was pregnant with my second (and thought I had 5 more weeks to go), I painted stripes in that room too. I went into labor later that day and the tape stayed on for several days. Thank goodness my brother-in-law has steady hands because he spent a couple hours cleaning up the paint lines for us.

  25. 25
    decova says:

    So glad I found this! I’m repainting several rooms in my house, and the edges were frustrating me. I love that you included both detailed descriptions and good quality pictures. Thanks for posting this!

  26. 26
    Angie says:

    Method #3 – Brush on clear glaze where the wall you intend to paint meets the painter’s tape edge. It seals the tape to prevent leaks and works really well even if you need to apply multiple coats of paint before peeling off the tape.

  27. 27
    Denise says:

    Thank you sooooooo much for the awesome tip! I just tried #1 today. Works like a charm :)

  28. 28
    Stacy says:

    This is a great post – thank you for the information. We had to line my daughter’s room in ribbons since the bleed was so bad on the walls. Now I know how to fix it when we repaint! Thank you!

  29. 29
    Shawn says:

    That looks like it would work well for a sharp line.

  30. 30
    Emily says:

    This is an absolute life saviour! Thank you!

  31. 31
    Peter Dayeh says:

    Love this tip!! I did this in my bathroom last week and it turned out great!

  32. 32
    MrsPonder says:

    This post seriously saved my nursery!!! I had grand plans to paint this criss-cross diamond pattern on one wall in our soon-to-be-born daughter’s room and then it hit me that we have orange peel textured walls. Thank you for solving that problem! Can’t wait to try this out :)

  33. 33
    Lynn says:

    Maniacal details for the compulsive among us as a supplement to Ashley’s truly fine directions
    Tape overlapping lengths, not more than three foot segments
    Tape from the one direction so when you pull the tape, the segment will help each other come off in one long satisfying strip.
    Press firmly with straight edge, but not so aggressively you distort or tear tape.
    Check that the beveled edge of tip is facing to your corner edge.
    Run three feet of a very narrow bead of caulk.
    Pull gun slower when gap is wider, faster when narrower
    Run wet finger on caulk line, pressing it into corner.
    Wipe very damp–but not sopping wet–rag over finger-smoothed caulk.
    Let caulk skin over, but don’t wait until it is dry
    Daub or pounce color paint over caulk line, feather onto target, keep paint off tape as much as possible.
    Do not drag brush along tape line.
    You can run the next caulk line over the end of the last done wettish paint and keep going.
    Pull tape off as you go, certainly before it is fully dry.
    If you are working in sections and pulling off tape, leave about an inch of tape on the done end before continuing your caulk line.

  34. 34
    Steph says:

    Thank you!!! Such great tips!!!

    Any advice for how to manage painting lines with a lighter colour, where I’ll need to do two coat? It (and the tape) will dry between coats, so I’m worried the tape will grab off chunks of paint when I remove it following the second coat.

    I’m painting white stripes on a taupe wall, so I’ll need at least two coats so it doesn’t look patchy :(

Notes and Comments