How do I avoid painting my carpet?
June 12, 2007 4:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm painting the skirting on my staircase and have a fitted carpet which I don't really want to lift. Is there a neat trick to avoid getting paint on the carpet that won't take me the same length of time it took Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel?
posted by DZ-015 to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
paint shields are thin metal blades with handles that you insert between the rug and the paint.
posted by Gungho at 4:18 AM on June 12, 2007

Masking tape?
posted by flabdablet at 4:27 AM on June 12, 2007

Like flabdablet, I'd have gone with masking tape. I've never heard of paint shields though, Gungho. I'll have to check them out...
posted by Life at Boulton Wynfevers at 4:48 AM on June 12, 2007

Surely, this is what masking tape was designed for.
posted by WPW at 5:44 AM on June 12, 2007

(1) Don't load up the brush very heavily.
(2) Be careful.
(3) Sort of smoosh the brush over so it spreads out and forms a more stable edge.
(4) Use latex and have a little bucket with sponge and water handy at all times.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:53 AM on June 12, 2007

Yea, masking tape is what you need, as wide as you can buy. You'll want to pull the edge of the carpet back from the baseboard and slide the tape down between the two (with the sticky side against the carpet) and then bend the exposed part of the tape over the face of the carpet pulling it back a little. This way you created a little gap between the carpet and the wood allowing you to paint the base down below the level of the carpet. Wait a full day to take the tape off as the paint won't dry very quickly down in the crevis that you've created and you don't want to get wet paint on the carpet taking the tape off. Once the tape comes off, the carpet will snap back against the base covering up the bottom of your paint line.

It's worth spend the extra dollar to get the blue masking tape (3M I think) as it comes off easier and doesn't leave glue on the carpet.
posted by octothorpe at 6:00 AM on June 12, 2007

One of the many types of paint shields. YMMV
posted by Gungho at 6:48 AM on June 12, 2007

If you don't want to buy a paint shield, you can just use a wide-bladed putty knife to pull the carpet away from the baseboard while cutting in. Or you can use a putty knife in conjunction with the masking tape method as an easy way to get the tape down into the crevice.
posted by misterbrandt at 8:24 AM on June 12, 2007

IANAP (painter), but could spray painting it work, with the suggestions for masking tape, shields, etc above?
posted by i less than three nsima at 8:57 AM on June 12, 2007

Best answer: 1) Invest in a top quality 2" or 2 1/2 " angled brush.

2) Vacuum the crevice next to the skirt well. There is always dirt and hair and loose fibers in the crevice that you do not want to have picked up by your brush.

3) Mask the carpet (optional)

4) Put down a drop sheet (something fairly thick, because just an old sheet won't resist paint running through it. Do not use plastic, it is dangerous as hell on a carpeted surface and especially stairs. Plastic offers no traction and would be like coating the stairs in ice)

5) Paint.

I would not recommend using blue (or green) tape as it is a tape designed for sticking to painted surfaces without damaging the surface upon removal. It is a total waste of money to use it to mask carpet.

Regular masking tape can be used and will not leave a residue unless it gets cooked by sun or other heat source or is left for an extended period (over a week).

Always remove the tape as soon as you are finished. Preferably while the paint is still wet.

Allowing it to dry in place will give you more work removing it than is necessary, as the paint will harden and you will have to either cut the tape and paint apart or risk leaving remenants stuck in the paint that you will then waste time fiddling with to remove individually.

Also, tape is a protection, if you use it, try to touch it as little as possible. It should be viewed as a "just in case", not as a guide for your lines.

Look at where you are going not what you wish avoid. If you focus on the carpet, that is what you will paint. If you focus on where you want the line to be that is where you will put it.

Do not load your brush lightly, load it normally and unload it on the surface to be painted otherwise your brush won't perform well.

Paint directly from the gallon, do not paint from some small container otherwise you will not be able to load your brush properly and will fight the paint, twisting the brush trying to avoid leakage, it won't work well.

Proper technique is to take your gallon (when used for cutting it is commonly refered to as a boxing can) fill or leave it 1/3 full of paint.

Drop your brush into the paint, it will come 3/4 of the way up the bristles, lift it out of the paint but while still inside the boxing can, give it a couple quick snaps of the wrist and you will have a perfectly loaded brush.

Next, unload the brush on surface a couple inches above where you want to place your line then ease the brush tip to the corner and pull your lines away.

Don't take a full brush and go directly to the point you wish start otherwise you'll have too much paint at the starting point and will end up with a small lake forming in the corner.

The whole idea of loading your brush properly and unloading on the surface to be painted is about saving time, minimize trips between the boxing can and surface. You need more paint, it is already there in front of you.

The boxing can should generally remain in one hand while the brush is in the other.

You should never have to make a special move to get more paint.

Economy of movement economized time.

One side of about 12 or 13 steps should really take no more than 12 or 13 minutes, slower than this you are diddling and not painting.

Don't sit down to paint, if you are sitting you aren't working efficiently. You must remain on your feet. Putting a knee down is okay, but if your bum is on a step ... you are no longer active and I would fire your ass right there.

Work from the top to bottom and try to avoid working across your body.

For example, if you are right handed you want to work from left to right. It gives you a better reach and visibility and avoids you curling into a ball as you work. If the skirt is on the left side I would paint left handed thus painting left to right, again avoiding the cross body work.

The painting shield is useless and I have never seen a professional use one except for when installing paper paint.

The problem with the shield is that if you get paint on it, it will tend to get paint on the carpet when you pull it away. It needs to be cleaned off prior to the next placement. It will slow you down and having something buttered in paint that you need to continually clean is a disaster waiting to happen.

The plaster knife (putty knives are less than 1 1/2 " wide) will give the same problem as the paint shield for the same reason.

There is a product that came out this year, I've seen at Sherwin Williams, that is a carpet shield.

They are pieces of plastic with a bent edge that look like standard industrial plastic base trim. They come in 3 foot sections but cost about 12 dollars for a pack of 6, pretty expensive for what they are. I wouldn't use them.

Spraying, only if the entire stair case is masked and barricaded in plastic and all ventilation shut down. Spraying causes alot of fume and the fume will travel far.

Masking and unmasking could easily take a couple of hours and the gun clean up at least 15 minutes depending on the gun choice.

I would give you a budget of 20 minutes for prep, 20 minutes to paint and 20 minutes to clean up. A budget that could easily be beaten by half.
posted by phoque at 1:40 PM on June 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

I thought of a couple more things to add.

When drawing your lines, you want a fairly good rate of speed.

The way a brush works is it holds and releases paint (obvious I know, but beare with me) as it releases paint it forms a small bead. It isn't the bristles that make the line rather this fine bead.

By drawing the line it should be a single motion to the end.

The faster you can go, the straighter the line will be.

If you slow the brush the bead gets thicker, go faster it gets thinner.

The lines are the only finess part. The rest is fill and evening out the paint.

Another reason you also want to paint fast is to not be applying wet paint over drying paint and building uneven layers.

Also, I didn't mean to fire you and am sure there would be no need :)

Also when you tape, and I would encourage you to octothorpe's answer
While I may disagree with tape choice, the reason was valid and a proper point to raise.

We may also differ on tape removal timing, but the placement method offered is perfect and deserves note.
posted by phoque at 5:01 PM on June 14, 2007

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