Refinishing an old piece of furniture or changing the color of your walls can be a fun project, but it can also be a source of frustration if you don’t use the proper tools and techniques. Brush strokes can make your new paint job seem cheap and poorly done.
So, how do you paint without streaks on walls and furniture? To paint without streaks, you can try several different methods, such as ensuring your surface is properly prepped, sanding in between coats, using the right paint and paintbrush for the job, and more. You can also use a paint sprayer, which will achieve a smooth streak-free finish with ease.
There are lots of different ways you can reduce the streaks and brush strokes that appear when you paint furniture and walls. In this article, I’ll review all the methods and tips you can try to get a smooth finish on your paint job.
How To Paint Without Streaks On Walls And Furniture
If you want to achieve a beautifully flat, smooth finish on your paint without tons of headache, check out my tips below. You can use one or more of these tips, combining some to find the best method that works for you.
Each of these tips will work great for painting on walls or furniture, but you should adjust and choose your methods based on your specific projects and tools that you have on hand.
The easiest way to achieve a streak-free finish on your new paint for your walls or furniture is to use a paint sprayer, also called a spray gun.
Although most paint sprayers are expensive and may seem like too hefty of an investment for a single paint job, they can be a great choice for people who know they’ll use it again and again.
Instead of brushing paint onto the surface, you’ll fill the attached paint tank on the paint sprayer and spray the paint onto the surface.
This completely removes the possibility for brush strokes, since you’re not brushing the paint yourself. Paint sprayers are faster, covering more surface in a shorter amount of time, though they do take longer in the preparation stage.
Prep Your Surface
Another great way to paint without streaks is to make sure you’re properly prepping your surface. Although the prep step may seem like too much of a hassle, it’s the most important part of your painting project.
If a surface is not properly cleaned and/or sanded, you will certainly have an uneven and streaky paint job.
Not only will you be able to see brush strokes, but you’ll also be painting over dust, dirt, or imperfections in the surface that will appear very obvious with a fresh coat of paint.
It’s vital to clean your surface properly, sand it as necessary, and even paint on a coat of primer before starting on your color paint.
Sand Between Coats
A tip to help you paint without streaks that may seem counterintuitive is to sand in between each coat of paint.
After you’ve spent hours painting a coat onto your furniture or walls, it may seem like you’re ruining all your hard work by sanding the paint down a little.
However, sanding in between coats can be a great way to prevent those brush strokes from showing through. You’ll be smoothing out the ridges caused by brush strokes to create a flatter finish with your paint.
It’s best to use a fine grit sandpaper for this, around 220 or higher. Using course sandpaper can remove the paint completely from the walls, which you want to avoid.
This should be a light, gentle sanding with fine grit sandpaper that’s just enough to smooth out the surface without ripping the paint off.
Part of getting the perfect paint job is using the right tools, which includes the right kind of paint.
Self-leveling paint is paint that will level as it dries, meaning the paint will smooth and flatten itself out as part of the drying process.
This is the ideal paint to use, because any brush strokes or streaks will level themselves out as the paint dries, so you’re left with a smooth, flat finish.
Not all self-leveling paints will say that they’re self-leveling right on the front label, so it’s good to do your research and make sure you’re getting a paint that will self-level in the drying process.
You can either look it up online or go to your local home improvement or paint store and ask the employees for recommendations on self-leveling interior paint.
Use The Right Brush
Finding the right tool for the job doesn’t just apply to the paint, but to the brushes too. Paintbrushes are not created equal. There are too many cheap, poor-quality brushes on the market and not enough high-quality brushes.
The right paintbrush will generally have synthetic bristles, or if it has natural bristles, they’ll be softer rather than coarse to the touch.
The thicker or coarser the bristles are, the more likely the paintbrush is to leave streaks in your paint job. You’ll want to get a paintbrush set that has soft, thin bristles, which will paint and glide smoothly across the surface.
If you’re shopping in store, feel the bristles, if the packaging allows. If shopping online, read reviews to see how the paintbrushes hold up over time.
Thin The Paint
Even if you have the right paint, there are some tricks you can do with the paint to help it go on even smoother.
The first trick is to thin the paint. If you’re using water-based paint, you can use water or Floetrol to thin it down. If you’re using oil-based paint, you’ll need to use mineral spirits.
No matter what type of paint you’re working with, it can be helpful to thin the paint before applying it to the walls or furniture.
Thinning the paint helps it to go on more smoothly and makes it more pliable as you go over it with your brush. Since the paint is more flexible, it can move more easily around the bristles of the paintbrush and still apply in an even, flat coat.
Don’t Use Too Much Paint
The second trick is to use smaller amounts of paint. People often feel an impulse to use more paint, thinking that if they use a thicker amount of paint in the first coat, they won’t need a second coat.
In reality, using too much paint can cause the paint to take much longer to try, can cause an uneven surface full of globs or drips, and can make brush strokes more obvious.
The best technique is to apply paint in thin, even coats. You may have to paint on two or three coats of your color, but it’s better to use more thin coats than ruin your walls or furniture with one coat that’s much too thick.
Make sure you’re allowing enough time for each coat to dry properly, and sand in between as needed.
Brush With The Grain
One trick that may seem obvious to some but isn’t always obvious to others is to brush with the grain. This mainly applies to furniture, but if you bear with me, you’ll see how it can apply to walls, too.
Wooden furniture always has a wood grain, and applying the paint works best if you brush with the grain, rather than against it. Painting along the wood’s natural lines will help your brush strokes disappear, rather than stand out.
If you’re working on walls or on furniture not made of wood, it’s still important to pick one direction and stick with it. Don’t paint up and down in one area then left to right in another area.
Your brush strokes will be much harder to see if you maintain the same direction and always paint with the grain.
Apply Light Pressure
Another brush technique that works wonders is to apply light pressure. If you’re pressing the brush against the surface so hard that all the bristles are fanning out, you’re using too much pressure.
Use enough paint on the bristles that you only need to lightly brush the paintbrush across the surface to apply the paint.
Light pressure will prevent the bristles from pressing too hard into the paint and dragging down the wet surface, creating streaks.
Wet The Brush
Finally, you can try wetting the brush before using it. Some people may dip a dry paintbrush into the paint bucket or pan without thinking about it, then get started painting.
This can create problems not just while you’re painting, but after you’re done with your paint job and you’re trying to clean the brush.
Paintbrushes work much better if you wet the bristles before you paint. They’re able to apply the paint more smoothly and wash easier when you’re done.
You can even spritz your painting surface with a mist of water before you paint, keeping that moisture that helps your paint brush on smoother.
This method works better with water-based paints rather than oil-based paints.
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