Painting a straight line

The idea is that my bedroom has a main colour all round the room – a lovely dusky blue / heather shade – with a wide band above it for some arty-farty contrast in rag roll or some other kind of painting technique. So far so good. The design is drawn. The plan looks good. So far.

Next thing to do is to get the horizontal line on the wall, equal all the way round and with no apparent deviations, dips or strange heights. Usually, the experts say, you just whip out your laser leveler, get the straight line on the wall and apply the masking tape for instant horizontal-ness.

I do not have a laser leveler. And, because I’m doing this decorating on my own, I don’t have someone to hang on to the other end of a bit of taut string while I ping a chalk line against the wall. However, what I have bought for my sweet self is a spirit level.

SpiritLevelsmallNot only does it tell me that my living room floor is level – look! it’s level! – it’s got a long straight edge. It’s then the work of a moment to mark the height of the horizontal line and then to work round the wall drawing a line along the straight edge once I know the level is spot on.

Once I’ve got the pencilled line, it’s on with the masking tape, right along the whole length of the line around the room, with the bottom edge flush with the pencilled line.

I’m lucky in that my walls are pretty much level. There aren’t any nicks or bumps, and it’s easy to press the tape firmly to the wall so that when I start painting, the paint doesn’t leak under the tape and give me a ragged line. If you’ve got uneven walls or you’re painting over textured wallpaper, you’re going to get leaks.

The tape is on. The paint is stirred and poured. Rather than risk getting all exuberant and rolling paint right over the tape, I’ve got some paint in a pot with a 2″ brush, so I can paint just below the tape before I let loose with the roller.

There are different schools of thought on when you should remove the tape. Some say you should wait until the paint is dry before peeling it off. Others say you should peel it off while the paint is still a little damp, so that you don’t tear any paint off. I always plump for the second option and it works pretty well for me.

See? Nice straight blue line, and then the gap between the paint and the ceiling. Huzzah!

There are also schools of thought that say you should work from the top downwards, so I should have done the blue after I’d done the top border. But I haven’t yet decided on the design, and the look of the room is going to spark those ideas. So that’s a rule I’m very willing to snap in half.

Once I’ve done the design, my plan is to add a white moulded border along the line, probably making it out of papier-mâché or recycled wood, sanding it and then painting it white. We’ll see. Watch this space.


About Sooz

Writer and cheapskate View all posts by Sooz

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