How to Paint Straight Lines Like a Professional

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If you look into a professional painter's tool bucket, you will see several rolls of blue or green painter's tape. The traditional tan masking tape may be good enough for sealing packages, but unlike true painter's tape, it can allow paint to bleed through, and it may leave behind a sticky residue. While choosing the right tape is a good start, professional painters also employ subtle tricks of the trade when painting straight edges.

Things You'll Need

  • Laser level
  • Painter's tape
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Sash brush

Painting a Horizontal Straight Line

  • Mark the position for your horizontal straight line by sticking the top edge of a small piece of painter's tape at that point on your wall, abutted directly to the wall's edge or corner.

  • Align your laser level to the top edge of the painter's tape. Position your level in place using a tripod or the level's own self-mounting mechanism, or have an associate hold it steady at your starting point.

  • Center the bubble of the level within the two indicator lines on the level's fluid chamber. Then turn on the laser.

  • Stretch a length of painter's tape across the wall, taking care to align it with the laser line. Press the tape firmly into place with your fingers and make sure the edges form a tight barrier with no gaps or folds. Overlap the tape segments if you use short lengths of tape.

  • Turn off the laser and remove the laser level after taping is complete.

  • Paint the open areas normally with a brush or roller to within 1 or 2 inches of the taped edge.

  • Apply paint up to the edge of the tape using an angled sash brush. Load the brush with paint -- but avoid overloading it -- and apply the paint at a slight angle, with minimal overlap onto the tape. Leave the tape in place for a second coat, if necessary.

  • Gently pull the tape away from the surface within a day or two of completing your paint project.

Painting a Vertical Straight Line

  • Mark the starting point for your vertical straight line by sticking a small piece of painter's tape at the position of your choice, directly above the baseboard.

  • Align your laser level to the vertical edge of the painter's tape. Center the bubble of the level within the two indicator lines on the fluid chamber.

  • Position your level firmly in place using a tripod or its self-mounting mechanism, or have an associate hold it steady at your starting point. Then turn on the laser with the beam pointing up.

  • Stretch a length of painter's tape up the wall toward the ceiling, taking care to align it with the laser line. Press the tape firmly into place with your fingers and make sure the edges form a tight barrier with no gaps or folds. Overlap the tape segments if you use short lengths of tape.

  • Turn off the laser and remove the laser level after taping is complete.

  • Paint the open areas normally with a brush or roller to within 1 or 2 inches of the vertically taped edge.

  • Apply paint up to the edge of the tape using an angled sash brush. Load the brush with paint -- but avoid overloading it -- and apply the paint at a slight angle, with minimal overlap onto the tape. Start from the top level, then move downward so you can brush out any drips that occur. Leave the tape in place for a second coat, if necessary.

  • Gently pull the tape away from the surface within a day or two of completing your paint project.

Tips & Warnings

  • Operating instructions for laser levels vary by manufacturer. Read your owner's manual for specific guidelines.
  • Most painter's tape can be left in place for as long as 7 days if necessary for multicoat painting projects such as rag-rolling, wood graining and other faux finishes.
  • To avoid injury, do not point the laser level at anyone's eyes.
  • Using painter's tape outside may prove more difficult to remove when exposed to direct sunlight for several days. Remove the tape within hours after the paint has dried, or the tape may leave behind a sticky residue.

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References

  • Photo Credit r_drewek/iStock/Getty Images
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