Painting 101: Tips for Painting Perfect Edges
Jordan Paul , null
June 10th, 2022
Many of us love to paint, right up until we are presented with a perfectly straight line we must follow. Even professionals can struggle to keep a perfectly straight border against a floor or ceiling. Today, we will suggest a handful of tricks the pros use to paint straight borders quickly and efficiently.
Use an Edger Where You Can
Edgers are small rectangular tools with very fine bristles on one side and a handle on the other. These tools function as both paint brushes and paint guards by using its rigid edge to define the line. Infact, it is difficult to paint anything but straight lines with these tools due to this design. Edgers are designed to ride against another straight edge, like window and door casing while applying the paint, functioning as a paint guard.
Edgers are often made from plastic and contain short bristles, which means they will not hold much paint. This is intentional, because extra paint is the enemy of straight lines. You’ll want to load an edger with enough paint for 6”-12” at a time to avoid accumulating paint forming a drip.
To use an edger, paint is applied to the bristles and it is simply pulled across the surface while maintaining contact with the casing. Very little to no pressure is applied, as this would force extra paint from the bristles and might result in a drip.
Use Painter’s Tape Or Masking Tape
Most of us are familiar with the method of using regular masking tape to define straight edges and prevent overpainting. The issue is that regular masking tape can contain too much adhesive making it difficult to remove the tape without damaging the surface. Painter’s tape is very similar to masking tape, but the release point is much lower, so it is less likely to damage the surface.
Use Paint Guards When Possible
Paint guards are usually long, narrow strips of thin metal or plastic used as a barrier to control paint edges. Paint guards must remain flat on the surface, because otherwise paint can get between the paint guard and the surface, ruining the effect. For this reason, care should be taken not to bend paint guards, as this would make them unusable. Most pro painters that use paint guards treat them extremely well, just as they do their brushes.
Using Specialty Brushes
A specialty brush is used for a specific purpose, like painting both sides of a right angle simultaneously or painting straight lines. For example, some specialty brushes include a built in straight edge that serves the same function as an edger, but with long bristles that can hold more paint. Some specialty brushes are designed for specific effects, like painting borders.
Other versions, like tapered trim brushes, often have very fine bristles smaller than a human hair. These brushes form a crisp edge near the tip, which allows for much greater control of the leading edge. The wider the tapered trim brush is, the easier painting a straight line becomes. More artistic painters will use these brushes for other effects as well, like flower petals.
Work From a Cup or Pail, Not the Paint Bucket
The last hint for painting straight lines is to keep your paint clean. When painting perfect edges the last thing we want is debris on your brush, because it will displace the paint. Even the smallest fleck of dried paint for dirt can be virtually invisible until it ruins a perfect edge. The pros prevent this by using a paint pail or cup.
Doing so prevents debris from the surface being transferred to the bucket via the brush, contaminating the entire bucket of paint. If your paint does become contaminated, most paint and big box stores sell one gallon and five strainers that can be used as a filter. However, the process is tedious and easily avoided with careful attention.