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How to paint clean lines when decorating

WordsMaha Elley

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Ever dealt with the frustrating decor experience of paint bleeding out onto ceilings or other edges, ruining all your careful application efforts? 

Sharp lines are one of the key elements of a flawless wall finish, but it’s all too easy for paint to bleed through onto ceilings and adjacent walls. Whether you’re painting your first wall or your twentieth (well done, you pro), learn how to create crisp lines before kicking off your next decorating project. 

Follow the steps below to avoid paint bleeding.

What you’ll need


Before you get going, there's a few things you'll need.

  • Masking tape (yep, this trusty tool will be your best friend in the process - read more about painters masking tape)
  • Paint 
  • Brushes 
  • A steady hand

    (Tip: Though we can't help to steady your hands, both our paints and our painting tools have been developed with ease in mind. So although we're a touch biased, we'd recommend our own products for the best results.)

How to do it


Step 1: Reach for that masking tape 

 Once you’ve suitably prepped your walls for painting start by applying masking tape over any spots you want to protect, along the edges of the ceiling and where the skirting board meets the wall (discover how to paint skirting boards here).

Step 2: Paint over the edges 

The secret to crisp, clean lines: paint over the edge of your masking tape with the existing color of the wall (or whatever surface you’re painting). By brushing over the edge of the tape, you’re effectively sealing the paint, and any paint that bleeds through will match the existing color. 

Allow this coat of paint to dry. Read our how to paint a wall guide for some top painting tips.

Step 3: Paint your second coat in the desired new color 

 When the first layer of paint is dry, start painting your second (new) color. Using your paintbrush, make sure that the paint overlaps the tape line. 

Step 4: Remove and reveal 

While your freshly-painted coat is still wet, it’s time for the big reveal. Carefully remove tape by pulling it towards you at a 90-degree angle. 

If you’ve followed all the steps above, you should be faced with a sharp, clean line with zero bleed-through. 

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Use this technique on edges, corners or where the wall meets the ceiling. Once you’ve mastered how to paint clean lines… you’re pretty far along on your decorating journey. 

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