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Streak-Free Smooth Painting Techniques With Oil-Based Paints

Sue Ake

Painting is a simple way to freshen the appearance of a room or a piece of furniture. A few coats of quality oil-based paint give a lustrous sheen that not only improves the appearance of your home, but also adds value. Before slapping on a coat of oil-based paint, however, it's important to learn a few simple techniques to ensure a streak-free finish.


The right supplies make all the difference when painting with oil based paints.

Painting contractor John Dee of "This Old House" says, "Without a good brush, it doesn't matter how experienced a painter you are. You can't control the paint." Quality brushes and rollers make paint application easier. Oil-based paints require brushes with natural bristles or synthetic brushes made exclusively for such paints to achieve the smoothest finish possible. Brushes that have split ends, also know as flags, hold more paint and give a more streak-free finish.

When buying roller brushes for oil-based paints, go with a natural nap roller cover. Natural nap roller covers use natural fiber, such as sheep skin, for the soft fuzzy coating. Natural napped covers clean more easily, provide a smoother finish and last up to three times longer than synthetic roller covers.

Surface Preparation

The key to any good paint job is surface preparation. Use a non-shrinking, quick-drying spackle compound to fix holes or cracks on the wall or other surface you plan to paint. Once the patches have dried, sand them smooth and wash them with TSP (trisodium phosphate). Make sure the surface is completely dry prior to painting.

Paintbrush Technique

Dip the brush in paint thinner before dipping it in the paint. Apply the paint to the surface in a long, light stroke from the top down, until the brush needs reloading. The second stroke should start at the bottom edge and be pulled up to meet the first. Continue the second brush stroke up and into the first stroke of paint. According to professional painter Butch Zang of "The family Handyman," the key to streak-free wall painting is to maintain a wet edge. Apply the next stroke of paint before the edge of the previous stroke has dried.

Roller-Brush Technique

Oil-based painting with a roller-brush allows for quicker coverage, but requires a bit more finesse to achieve a streak-free finish. Roll the brush in the paint and apply to the wall in long, even rolls. Again, it's important to apply the second roll before the edge of the first roll dries. Blending the wet edges is the key to creating a streak-free finish.