How to Paint a Straight Line Where the Wall & Ceiling Meet

Painting a straight line with a brush without tape where the wall and ceiling meets requires a high-quality brush, a steady hand and a lot of practice. Using painter's tape to get a straight line works fine when both wall and ceiling are smooth. When one or both surfaces are textured, it's a little trickier.

Professional painters employ a couple of tricks to get a straight, sharp line along the top of a wall.

  1. Run a bead of white caulking around the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling if the wall or ceiling, or both, are textured or rough. Smooth it with your finger or a damp rag and allow it to dry for at least four hours. This will smooth out some of the bumps and make it easier to paint a straight line.

  2. Apply painter's tape to the ceiling where it meets the wall. Press it down firmly to prevent the paint bleeding through.

  3. Score a line around the top of the wall with the edge of a sharp putty knife if the ceiling has popcorn or acoustic texture. This will remove stray lumps of texture from the top of the wall and makes it easier to paint a straight line.

  4. Thin down the paint a little bit with water for the first coat. It's easier to paint a clean, straight line with slightly thinner paint. Apply the second coat of paint undiluted.

  5. Tip

    Invest in a very high-quality brush; if you clean it after every use it will last years. It's easier to paint a straight line with a 3-inch brush than with a 1- or 2-inch brush.


    Wait at least four hours before carefully removing painter's tape, otherwise you may pull some of the fresh paint away from the surface.