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Old 06-07-2019, 03:44 AM   #1
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Default the million dollar question

How do you get laser straight lines on a square stopped wall?
I have tried masking tape but I can never get the line straight, although that could be because the wall isn't 100% dead-on balls straight.
I have tried a strait edge steel thing that is okay. but once again the walls aren't dead-on balls straight, closer to a roller coaster than dead-on balls straight.
I use a quite-new top end paint brush and do it free hand, but as you know, it's a load of bollocks and it's never straight.
I often tell people that if you can invent a tool that makes a straight line better and quicker than a brush, you will be a BILLIONAIRE.
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Old 06-07-2019, 06:32 AM   #2
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Try a bead of caulking in the corner first. Straight is a perception. You need to fool the eye.
Or, alternatively talk them into installing crown moulding..

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Old 06-07-2019, 08:38 AM   #3
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Kevyn nailed it: "straight is a perception"
I agree that a bead of caulk can help when the corners are rough.

I Tape all the trim, all the time, because (like you) I appreciate "laser straight lines", and agree that hand-cutting will never be as precise. However, I cut the ceiling by hand, as I don't think there is (or ever will be) a better way to paint the ceiling corners.

A stiffer bristle brush is generally advisable for getting straight lines.
(stiffer bristles = straighter lines; softer bristles = eliminates brush strokes).

"The money is in the corners" as the old saying goes.
It is a skill worth practicing every day... $

*(FWIW- some tips for anyone reading post in future who may find in informative)- Wipe paint off the corner-side of bristles (leave paint on wall-side of bristles), hold brush at 45 angle, let bristles "settle into" corner, and pull your line... putting less pressure on the handle is helpful in keeping the bristles form fanning out and going past the corner. (Let the bristles glide in the corner, pushing down on the brush forces the bristles out of that groove.)
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Old 06-07-2019, 09:21 AM   #4
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I always wrap the darker color over just a hair, and try to be consistant with it. Eyes will be drawn to any light color wrapping over. The darker color will hide the corner line if its taken over just a bit. Even if I paint the dark color first, then the light color, I will come back with the dark, and tighten up the line. This applies whether you're freehanding or taping. Of course, base and crown are USUALLY exceptions to this.

Generally for corners, there is no straight line. All you can do is follow the wall. Caulking first is always a good thing.
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Old 06-07-2019, 01:35 PM   #5
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If you want laser lines, spray it. Otherwise, small variations in a cut line from a brush are just proof of hand craftsmanship.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:01 PM   #6
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Again, totally straight in a house usually isn't possible. Then again, when I first started, a customer's husband who had been an ex-painter told me "It's all about using light and shadow to your advantage. You won't see if you get a little paint on the ceiling, but if you're below the ceiling line the line won't look straight." Obviously a little is a little, not a quarter inch. What I personally do is always do two cuts, make the first cut be slightly less close to the ceiling by about 1mm or less. Then on the second cut, basically "fill in" my first cut. You're also for a straighter line better off choosing the evil of getting 1-2mm of paint on the ceiling, as the light and shadow will cover it. 1-2mm of paint on the ceiling is better than the whole wall line looking wavy looking down a hallway or similar.

Another trick I do is on base boards. I cut them in working with other people, but I find it never looks as good as painting the baseboards last. By this, it's light and shadow as well. If you cut them in and get 1-2mm of wall paint on the baseboard, your eye is drawn to it and you see the bad cut lines. But if you get 1-2mm or even more on the wall of the trim paint, the edge of the baseboard casts a shadow against the wall, hiding the trim paint to your eyes unless you're staring dead on 6" away from the base board.

So that old guy was right, it is all about light and shadow. I don't know how much you've worked/done things in other trades, but houses are not actually straight... ever. If you ever work with tile especially, you'll find this out. If the actual framing of a house is off by 1/2" in 6 feet, you're never getting a "straight" line there, so your job as the painter is to give the illusion of straight. This is why often the DIY idea of using tape everywhere often doesn't work/look good, houses aren't actually straight and you need a painter to actually cut everything in for this reason.

As far as your one solution for perfectly straight. No million dollar tool required, it's already here. A laser level and frog tape. I had one OCD customer who didn't like my "cut" on a inside bullnose corner on a ceiling and was like "Fine I'll use a laser level and frog tape, screw you." Turns out the framing was off by a whole inch according to the laser level, he still did end up just taping that line with frog tape, but it could never be "straight" because the house wasn't. (Everything worked out amicably, don't worry...) But a laser level and Frog Tape could come in handy, it's also useful if you ever do multiple colors on a wall.

Anyway, I blame the framing. I'm at the point where I feel like I should just bring a 6 foot level for some picky customers. I think it's possibly slightly different in commercial construction and straight is more possible there due to steel stud framing and usually 5/8" drywall everywhere (makes for straighter walls since it bends less with the studs) but with wood and 1/2" drywall due to the bending and bowing inherent in it, it's usually never quite straight enough.

Last edited by celicaxx; 06-07-2019 at 05:07 PM..
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:32 PM   #7
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IMO, the hardest cut lines to do are those in a room with vaulted ceilings where the sheet rockers failed to get nice even wall/ceiling seams. Older houses where an attic has been finished off always seem to be the worst. Maybe because many were DIYer projects.
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Old 06-07-2019, 05:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Holland View Post
Kevyn nailed it: "straight is a perception"
I agree that a bead of caulk can help when the corners are rough.

I Tape all the trim, all the time, because (like you) I appreciate "laser straight lines", and agree that hand-cutting will never be as precise. However, I cut the ceiling by hand, as I don't think there is (or ever will be) a better way to paint the ceiling corners.

A stiffer bristle brush is generally advisable for getting straight lines.
(stiffer bristles = straighter lines; softer bristles = eliminates brush strokes).

"The money is in the corners" as the old saying goes.
It is a skill worth practicing every day... $

*(FWIW- some tips for anyone reading post in future who may find in informative)- Wipe paint off the corner-side of bristles (leave paint on wall-side of bristles), hold brush at 45 angle, let bristles "settle into" corner, and pull your line... putting less pressure on the handle is helpful in keeping the bristles form fanning out and going past the corner. (Let the bristles glide in the corner, pushing down on the brush forces the bristles out of that groove.)
Other painters I worked with thought the way I cut is bizarre. I usually use a Wooster 2.5 oval Silver Tip for cutting, as I like the way it handles and it holding a lot of paint. But why they think it's weird is I essentially let the bristles fan out to be about 70-80% of the max they can fan, and use the fanned out brush to cut my line. They can't argue with the lines, they're always happy with my lines 100%, they're just like "Woah wtf are you doing?"
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Old 06-07-2019, 07:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celicaxx View Post
Other painters I worked with thought the way I cut is bizarre. I usually use a Wooster 2.5 oval Silver Tip for cutting, as I like the way it handles and it holding a lot of paint. But why they think it's weird is I essentially let the bristles fan out to be about 70-80% of the max they can fan, and use the fanned out brush to cut my line. They can't argue with the lines, they're always happy with my lines 100%, they're just like "Woah wtf are you doing?"
@celicaxx,
Whatever works!

I just realized how funny it was to post my sort of technique on a painter's forum.

It might be a good topic for a new thread, but there will be exactly as many techniques as members.
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Old 06-07-2019, 08:19 PM   #10
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Personally, I think this is more like around a $610,000 question. Maybe $650,000 at a stretch.

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Old 06-11-2019, 08:36 PM   #11
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I have cut in a lot over the years(35) and a stiffer brush is not the answer for straighter lines....well it could be but who can get paid for 3-4 cut ins on a corner( stiffer leaves less paint film for less coverage). If you brush squishing your brush then you are taking too much time and poor brush!!.. Paint darker colors last 99% of the time and I cut really close first coat and finish off a straight line the next coat...best brush that I've found is still a proform.....just my humble openion
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