Flawless Coverage


17. The right sequence
Many homeowners paint the walls first, then move on to the trim while they wait for the first coat to dry. Homeowners should think more strategically, says Rich O'Neill of Masterworks Painting. "Paint all the woodwork first—the first and second coats—then move onto the walls," says O'Neill. "If you toggle back and forth, your cutlines won't be as sharp. When you do the woodwork first, you can ride the trim paint onto the walls a little, then cut over it in one go."

18. Through thick and thin
When applying your coats, don't just focus on coverage, think about a uniform thickness as well. "Homeowners think that pro painters put on color, but they actually put on texture," says Doug Wold of Queen Anne Painting. On woodwork, align your strokes to follow the grain. Try to avoid "fat edges"—the goopy cornices of paint that can hang over the edges of a door—and rope marks left by overloaded rollers. "If you don't hold the roller uniformly against the wall, it can leave a ridge—just like on a ski hill, when groomers leave little ridges between their tracks."

19. Lay off already
After you've rolled a section of the wall, make a series of long vertical strokes—moving in one direction, left or right—up the full length of the wall. This last step, called "laying off," distributes the wet paint across the surface in a nice even layer.

20. How to load a brush



Good bristles pull paint up toward the top of the brush and the metal ferrule. To keep from overloading your brush, dip the bristles not more than halfway into the bucket. Then gently tap the bristle ends against both sides of the bucket to remove any excess. Or do as Mark Casale of Hingham Painting and Decorating does. "Dedicate half of the pot as your 'wet' side, using the handle as an imaginary dividing line." Tap one side of the brush on this side of the bucket, then turn the brush untapped-side up.

To get the paint on the wall, Casale recommends setting the brush a few inches away from where you're cutting in, then moving it in to the cut line and drawing it straight up until the brush starts to drag. Then draw it back down in a line to level it out. Finally, move the brush upward with a light stroke to "tip off," smoothing out any brushstrokes.

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