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I'm reinstalling some crown molding and decided to do some touching up while it's down. I had previously done some touch-ups on the same style in another room, and never quite got it perfectly smooth. How can I prevent brush strokes from showing on the finished product?

Some factors I've thought about:

  • Should I go buy a top-of-the line brush?

  • Would thinning the latex paint with water help?

  • Should I just go get a paint sprayer to save myself some time? (And hey, another excuse to buy a new tool is always great!)

Follow-up: I went ahead and bought an airless paint sprayer on sale for $60 and used Floetrol as well. (My 1 gallon compressor couldn't supply the cfm required for the HVLP sprayers I considered.) As shirlock suggested, I had to go over the trim with a brush afterward, but I think it was the most efficient method to use. A few minutes of spraying followed by a quick brush over was all it took for 30+ ft of crown molding. I think I actually spent longer cleaning out the sprayer afterwards than I did painting.

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Congrats, glad it worked well for ya. –  shirlock homes Mar 1 '12 at 10:36

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Getting a smooth finish without purchasing an expensive HVLP sprayer is fairly easy. Start with any good grade paint, and treat it with Flotrol acrylic additive at a rate of about 1/2 pint per gallon and mix well. If you get a real thick paint, you can increase the amount of Flowtrol up to one pint per gallon max. I use and recommend Purdy brushes. For trim, I like a sash brush, (angled style). Be sure to pick out a brush for latex paint, usually a combo of nylon and poly bristles. The ends of the bristles need to be very tapered and soft. Check out the Purdy ExtraGlides for latex.

Your technique is important also. Always try to finish with long smooth strokes only using the very tips of the bristles. Properly treated paint and the right brush used well will give you fantastic results. Good luck.

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1  
+1 for Purdy brushes!!! –  Tester101 Sep 19 '11 at 12:13
    
I love Purdy brushes. Breaks my heart when I have to retire one after a year or two. –  shirlock homes Sep 20 '11 at 1:11
    
I think I'll give Flotrol a try. I've already got a Purdy Sash brush, and I think I'd have to buy Flotrol for an HVLP sprayer anyway. If it doesn't turn out rightor is too time consuming, I might start eyeing the sprayer again. –  Doresoom Sep 20 '11 at 16:04
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I think you might find that even with a good sprayer, you will need to "tip off" with a brush to avoid an orange peel finish. –  shirlock homes Sep 22 '11 at 21:55

I hate painting with oil paint, but because it takes longer to dry it leaves a much smoother finish - no paint strokes. For trim work, it's pretty standard to use oil based paint. Just be careful with drips and cleanup!

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I think nothing lays a nicer finish than an HVLP sprayer. Having one around, I'm always finding a use for it (stain is nice with an HVLP too) ... excuses to buy tools are nice!

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You definitely should buy hight quality brush. But it didn't work for me until I got high quality paint to go with it. Try Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore latex trim paint. It lays very smooth, if you get it right - no strokes at all. It kind of flows like a film and very little drips. I'm not pro at all but I had much better result with a quality paint..

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