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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.





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!!!




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.



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.



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… biggee).  But be sure it’s enough paint to fill in those little gaps where the tape can’t quite reach.



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.



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.



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.



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



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.


****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!


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.



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.



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! :)




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


Good luck!





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Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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