My secret weapon for painting perfect trim

Do you hate painting trim and cutting in between the walls and ceiling? Trust me you're not alone. It's not an easy task. Not unless you have my secret weapon. No matter how hard you laugh, you've got to try this no-fail way to your best paint job ever.

• You Paint with What Kind of Brush?

Through the years, I tried all kinds of paint brushes for painting trim and cutting in. I've bought straight, slant, 1-inch, 2-inch, synthetic, natural bristles, foam - you name it; I've bought it. I've even bought mini-rollers and paint pads in every shape and size. Nothing allowed me to deliver a nice, even flow of paint without encroaching on things I did not want to touch.

Then I raided my artist stash to paint the trim in my kitchen. Yes, I did - I used a flat, size 16 long handle sable artist brush. And I've never used anything else since. My friends and family have laughed and jeered at me while I've painted with it. But, their results always pale in comparison to mine - no matter what trim brush they use.

Frustrated and ready to give up her current paint project, a co-worker asked me what kind of brush I used to paint trim. I looked her square in the eye and said, "Do you really want to know?" She begged the answer; so I told her. Later that night I got a text from her that simply said, "Why didn't you tell me about this two gallons ago?" Yup, she's hooked.

• Better Control

Just looking at this brush, it's easy to see why you'd have more control with it over traditional trim paint brushes. First of all, it's thinner and can get into corners without making a mess. Second, it can hold a healthy amount of paint.

Now, I know what you're thinking - it's not very wide - it will take a decade to paint with that brush. But, you're wrong. What you loose in width, you gain in control and you'll glide through the paint process faster than you have ever done before. Yes, you'll probably need two coats - but, that's usually true with other brushes, too.

• Preserving Your Investment

If you go for it, a sable flat artist brush can be a little pricey - so you'll want to clean it properly to make it last a lifetime. My favorite flat is over 17 years old and it looks as good as new. Here's what I do to clean it.

Purchase an inexpensive bottle of conditioning shampoo and a cheap fingernail scrubber. Run the brush under water to get most of the paint out; then gently massage the bristles with a drop of shampoo. Lay the brush down on the bottom of your sink and use the nail scrubber to squeeze the remaining paint from the bristles by combing from bottom of the ferrule to the end of the bristles. Repeat carefully until all paint is gone. Then reshape the bristles flat and leave it to dry laying on a horizontal surface. Never stand your brush vertically on its bristles - you'll destroy the fibers and the shape.

So there you have it. If you're struggling with traditional trim brushes, I invite you to take the plunge. Take a ride to your local art supply store and bring back a flat, size 16 long handle sable artist brush. And I promise you, your friends might taunt you, but you'll have the last laugh with your best paint job ever.

Enjoy more home decor ideas from Terry Mulligan:

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