I finally got the nerve to paint my living room and now I can't figure out how to fix the paint roller streaks on one wall. I am using the BEHR paint and primer in one in an eggshell finish. I have tried to sand the area down and repaint in a "W" and then over it up and down but it still looks terrible. It's only bad in the middle of the wall. What am I doing wrong and how can I fix it?
I'm PatInPaint and I work in the Paint Department in Atlanta.
Everyday our Do-It-Yourself Community grows both at the Store and online. Welcome and thanks for the excellent question.
Walls are commonly smooth, not textured, so I will base my answer upon painting a smooth surface.
In an earlier post, there was a discussion of correct nap. Click Here to review that discussion. There you will find that most smooth surfaces are painted with either a one-fourth or a three-eighths nap roller.
Commonly, paint streaks are created three ways:
1) When too long of nap is used. What happens is the roller loads full of paint and when pressed firmly against the wall, the paint releases from the roller at both ends creating ridges. Sanding the ridges completely down and repainting with either a three-eighths or one-quarter nap is the solution.
2) When a dark color is painted on the wall and then recoated too fast. What happens is the second coat re-wets the first coat and the pigment in the first coat streaks. The solution is simply waiting four to six hours between each coat.
3) When the sheen reflects light and the roller strokes show up. The solution for this is to use "smoothing strokes." Begin working in an area about as wide as your body. Cut-in at the top and the bottom of the wall and then fill the wall with paint using W-strokes or V-strokes. You will usually refill your roller with paint four or five times to fill the wall in front of you. Before you move over and without going back to the tray for more paint, roll one continuous stroke from the cut-in at the top of the wall to the cut-in near the floor. You will need to overlap these smoothing strokes about one-half inch and you should expect to use four or five of these full-length strokes to completely smooth the area in front of you. Then move over the width of your body and repeat.
If none of these examples appear to be your problem, reply with photos and we can look at the project together.
Other members of the community who are new painters may want to share their "tried and true" methods.
There is only one rule to painting a wall (or doing a faux or decorative technique): be consistent. Whether you use the W / M (or W / V) technique or floor to ceiling rolling, the important thing is to make sure you use the same amount of paint on the same amount of surface area. That's why the W / M approach works well for beginning painters. Usually a 3/8" nap roller, fully loaded, will cover a three square foot (3 sq ft) area on a flat wall. A quarter inch roller cover fully loaded will cover a bit less than that, but close.
So imagine a 3'x3' square on your wall, make a W from corner to corner, make an M from corner to corner, then fill it in. Load your roller, minimize the amount of overlap as much as possible, imagine the next square and "W / M" again. Once the square is filled in evenly, there is no need to keep rolling. If you do so, all you end up doing is pulling paint back off the wall, creating an uneven paint film.
Wait 4 hours (typical recoat time),paint your second coat, making your squares a bit bigger or smaller so your overlap lines aren't in the same spots.
Another thing to keep in mind, the typical orange, green, brown and wood handle rollers sold in the Paint department have a painting direction. While holding the roller in your hand against the wall, if you see the arm coming out of the handle and going to the right, then you're going to want to roll the paint onto the wall from left to right. If it's on the left, then conversely, you'll roll right to left. When you press the roller against the wall, more pressure is applied to the arm side of the roller. Sometimes, if you press to hard, it looks like your roller is leaving a trail. If you keep the arm pointed in the direction you're painting, the opposite side will tend to catch that trail and smooth it out, as there isn't as much pressure on that side.
I recently had the same problem with a black wall using a very good quality water base paint.
I found that thinning the paint down and aplying with a wet roller helped a lot. It dripped a lot so protect surrounding ereas
well. Try not to go over painted serface after paint starts to dry that causes the fresh paint to lift the setting paint and leave the marks...good luck hope this helps
Paints hold their sheen according to how well sealed the wall is that is being rolled. If you are trying to paint a super dry "contractor's grade" paint with only one coat of paint, you are almost guaranteed to have streaks. Try as you might, you will not be able to apply a completely uniform thickness of paint. Where heavier deposits of paint occur off the edge of the roller, streaks will be evident. This is why paint manufacturers want you to do a primer and finish coat, or two coats of a paint/primer product. The first coat will greatly seal the wall, allowing the finish coat to dry more evenly.
Additional dry time allows the underlying paint to more fully reach its cure/ sealing ability. Recoating too soon will usually cause streaking problems. Although the paint can may state "recoat in two hours" , the longer between coats, the better. This is especially true by deep colors that have 12 to 16 ounces of tint in them. Unfortunately, the tint is pigment suspended in glycol. The glycol slows the drying and curing. Behr encourages the painter to give 1 hour of dry time for each ounce of tint in the paint.
Deep factory made colors usually don't exhibit these streaking problems as badly as they omit the glycol and just put the dry pigment powders directly in the paint resin. This is also why factory mixed colors often cover better than machine mixed colors from the paint store - less glycol, more pigment equals better coverage!
Lastly, the average paint "newbie" tends to not use enough paint. The paint must be applied liberally, and then rerolled. One fill up of the roller should not normally cover more than one floor to ceiling band of paint. Each subsequent fill-up of paint will lay out a new band and then re-roll into the previous band. Each band should be getting about 2 re-rolls.
As my paint contractor father told me when I was first learning the trade, "Put on more paint. It is the labor we are selling, not the paint ! "