Questions About Painting Difficult Areas

Q. At the area where the wall meets the ceiling, the corners are rough and it's a challenge cutting in. Little pits tend to pull in the paint and I'm getting a little (1/16" to 1/8") of wall paint on the ceiling here and there. When looking up at the corners, it doesn't look like a smooth job. Should I caulk the corners before I paint to overcome this?

A. Caulk could work. Cut the tip of a new tube as small a hole as possible. Run a tiny bead in the corner, smoothing it down as you go with a damp sponge. If it's a small enough bead, it won't show up on the ceiling. Let it dry overnight before trying to paint on it.

Q. How do I paint a wall in a room with a cove ceiling? I can't afford to install a strip of molding near the ceiling to create a point at which to stop the paint.

A. Stop the wall paint at the bottom of the curve from the cove. Measure up from the floor to the spot where the cove appears to end and put a screw into the wall here. Go to the opposite end of the wall measure up the same distance and put a screw into the wall. If it appears to far off from where the bottom of the cove should be, adjust it. Attach a piece of nylon twine to the screw, pull it tight and attach to the other screw. This line may dip slightly in the center depending on how long the wall is and how tight the twine is. Run a one-inch tapeline above the twine using it as a guide. Stand back and look at your line to check for straightness. Now you can cut in to the tape or carefully roll up to it. You can also use a chalk line to snap a line on the wall.

The reason is that you need a straight-line reference. If you do this by eye and then get off the ladder and look at your work, it will probably look like a dog's hind leg. If you can't cut-in a straight line by hand, just put blue tape above your line and hand paint up to it or roll with care.

When you peel off the tape, peel it off slowly at a 45-degree angle so as not to pull off the original paint under it. If the original paint comes off with your tape, it's a good indication that there was no primer under that coat. And if that is what happens, then you will have to feather out that unevenness by sanding or skimming so that it still looks level to the rest of that area so that you can repaint the cover.

Q. My interior painting consists of the ceiling and walls being different colors. I thought it would be easy to cut in with a brush or use a paint pad for edges - the one with the roller wheels. Both methods did not produce the desired results. I then used painter's tape and taped off the ceiling and the baseboards. This worked pretty well but is very time consuming. I have three bedrooms and a bathroom to paint, and the three bedrooms will require two coats each because of the colors being used. Is there an easier, less time-consuming way to get professional results?

A. The sash brush (angled tip) is a good idea. If you want to get a 2" brush for doing the windows, that's ok, but for cutting in walls at ceilings, I would suggest a bigger brush, as big as you can handle - at least 3" though. This is just my opinion, but I don't think any painter would use a 2" brush for this purpose. If you think you can't handle the bigger brush, then use the 2-inch brush. I like to put the paint on in one direction, then when it starts to go dry, I move down the wall horizontally and flip the brush over to get the paint on the other side of the brush and work back to where the previous paint ended. Finish up that section by making sure there is no excess paint at the bottom of the cut in line. It tends to accumulate there. Tips are parallel to the ceiling. Using the angled tip brush, keep shortest tips a little further away from the ceiling than the longer tips. This makes it easier to see what you are doing.

Q. My living/dining room walls are "rounded" into the ceilings. Everything is white. I want to paint the living room a muted red and the dining room a light sand color. How can I paint walls that are rounded into the ceiling? Should I use wallpaper trim to put at the ceiling "cut" of the entire area, trim that includes both the red and beige colors?

A. The wallpaper border is a good idea or you can measure down to the point where the curve ends on the wall, and make a small pencil mark there. Then use a 4' level, and pencil a line around the perimeter of the room. Mask it off with tape or cut it in by hand.

Q. I used an oil based floor paint to repaint the floors in the home I am moving into. I thought they would be dry enough to walk on after 12 hours, but I left footprints in the paint when I went to check how they were doing. How long does it take the paint to become "walkable"? If I do move in, will my furniture and such stick to and in the paint?

A. Oil base enamel, especially on floors, often takes 24 hours to dry. Cool weather and/or humidity can slow down the drying time. Oil base paints often take 72 hours to dry hard. After the paint is dry, it still should not have heavy traffic for a few days.

Q. I just moved into my apartment building. I want to paint my room a dark color, like a dark blue, almost navy. Since I'm renting I have to re-paint the room to its original color (off-white/cream) when I move out (a year from now). Is it difficult to paint over a dark color?

A. It's not hard to paint over a dark color; it will just require multiple coats to cover it. One or two coats of primer before you put on the "off-white/cream" may do the trick.

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