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How to Paint Without Taping

by | DIY, Uncategorized

In the few years that Drew and I have lived in our house, we have painted almost every single room (including the kitchen) in the house and just about every inch of trim.  The only original paint left is in the bathrooms and the upstairs hallway, and maybe a random closet here and there.  This means the workroom has a paint shelf to rival Home Depot, and we are never without a supply of paint rollers, paint trays and Purdy brushes.  We’ve also settled on our favorite paints, tools and techniques.

I love the way a newly painted room looks, but I used to never look forward to painting.  I mean, who does?  All that prep, then the days messing around with painters tape, then the actual painting, then the ripping of painters tape, then the touch up where the tape didn’t do squat at protecting the edge.  When I lived on my own in a new condo, I tried those fancy schmancy edge painters, and they worked well enough I suppose.  But when you live in a 90 year old house with plaster walls, there’s not a perfectly straight edge in sight.  Can you imagine having to tape around every odd bubble and defect in every wall?

So what I’d like to share with you today are my tips on interior painting, and especially, how to paint a straight edge against a ceiling or around molding without using any of that pesky blue tape.  I say “interior” painting, because as Drew will tell you, exterior painting and prepping is a whole different ball game!

1.  Don’t skimp on the supplies.  I used to use generic brushes and big box store brand paint.  The paint would go on thin, spray all over me, leave streaks, and I would end up having to paint on several coats to get the right color.   The brushes would shed hairs in the paint and on a sticky wall.  We learned our lesson.

We now buy Benjamin Moore paint, and oh my heaven, the first time the good paint touched the wall, I think I heard the angels sing.  It covered beautifully, and we have never needed more than 2 coats of paint.  Our brushes on Purdy angled brushes, and they are meticulously cleaned after every use, because dang, they are expensive!  We buy cheap rollers to use with the primer, and fine fuzz or sponge rollers for the top coat.

2.  Invest in a metal paint tray, and buy cheap liners in bulk.

3.  Use old shower curtains, bedsheets or towels as drop cloths.

4.  Buy a good large angled brush for edging and you’ll never need to tape an edge again.  Woohoo!

5.  Prime everything first.  If you’re covering both wall and trim, priming can be a slightly sloppy affair, since you won’t need to know where the edge is (except for the ceiling).

6. After priming, decide if you’ll paint the wall or trim first.  I like to paint trim first.  So, that’s crown molding first  (or ceiling first, if necessary), and all window/door/chair rail trim and then base molding.  Any mistakes in the trim, where you went “over the line” can be corrected/covered with the wall paint.  Drew likes to politely disagree slightly and say that base molding is easier to do last.  Whatever floats your boat.

7.  Edge without using tape!  Take your clean, angled brush, load it up with paint, and rest it gently close to the edge you want to paint.  Make sure it doesn’t glop too much.  Carefully move the brush up to (or down to) the edge, and use the side of the brush to create that straight edge.  Now just move the brush steadily against the edge (pulling is easier than pushing) until you start running low on paint. Move the brush perpendicularly away from the edge and finish the stroke.  Load up with paint again, overlap where you left off and paint another straight edge.  Pretty easy right?  That was a lot of talk for not a lot of tutorial, I know.  Here’s a handy tip – don’t try to edge when drunk, or when cold.  You need a steady hand for a clean edge!

 Yes, I did clean up that drip.

8.  Roll a bead of paint along.  Huh?  In the picture below, do you see that little glop of paint right at the bottom of the brush?  That tells me there’s still enough paint in the brush to keep going, and that’s the paint that I’m pushing up against the molding to create the straight edge.  When that bead of paint goes away, it’s time to end that paint stroke.

8.  When painting the wall, keep a wet edge.  I like to edge a little, then roll a little, as the roller tends to provide a smoother finish, and helps blend the edging better.  If you roll on paint first, then paint the edges with a brush, you’ll always see a bit of those brush marks.

In our house, we’ve pretty much lost track of where our blue painters tape is.  We do still need it sometimes, to cover doorknobs and hinges we’re too lazy to remove, but at least we no longer spend a day taping and another day painstakingly stripping tape without ruining our hard work.  And we’ve been able to adapt to all the bumps in the wall as well.

I hope this helps you in your next painting adventure!  If you have any questions, just leave a comment, or find me on Facebook!


  1. 4 You With Love

    What great tips! Just pinned this so I can find it again when I’m ready to paint my next room! 😀

  2. Crystal

    Great tips!! I hate to paint, but can’t afford to hire anyone. So, I discovered Purdy paint brushes and they are awesome!! I don’t use blue tape either, but I still don’t enjoy painting 🙂

  3. Reduce, Reuse, Renewed

    I think I spent a small fortune in blue tape while repainting our home last year. I hated, HATED, prepping with tape first and picking at the pieces of tape stuck to the wall from a paint drop splurge. Good stuff to know. Thanks!

  4. Mary

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!! I will never use painter tape again. I too live in a house that does not know what a straight line is!! Built in the 1950’s! So it is a major headache to try to get the tape straight ( or curved!) Going forward, I will use your technique to save time and money too.

  5. ChiWei

    Mary, would you believe it? When I lived in a brand new condo, the walls and ceilings still weren’t straight, so taping still made a mess, especially when there’s too much paint and it globs underneath the tape. With this old house, we figured the tape would just be a failure, so it was better to just learn to paint on an angle! And old houses are just so unique! Thanks for coming by, and I hope this technique works for you in the future!

  6. Annie of Blue Gables

    Would you consider making a video?

  7. airbnb property management

    Great article and some cool advice from some great influences. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. A Paint Edger

    Thank you so much for your great tips, This article will help me a lot for my next painting projects!

  9. Ethan Frank

    great Post! your information is very helpful.Thanks for sharing this article

  10. Adelina Addy

    Helpful and informative tips thanks for sharing.

  11. Sophia Collins

    Brilliant tips! Thanks for sharing

  12. Isabella

    Thanks for sharing this useful article with us

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