Most folks think of painting as a way to cover the walls, spruce things up a bit, and add some color. But thinking outside the box can help you see paint as a terrific medium for adding interest to your home. You can use special effects to cover up small flaws, lend texture to an otherwise boring space, or create a border so eyes are drawn upward.
Texture paint, for instance, gives you not just color, but texture to walls and ceilings. You can buy prepared texture paints which consist of paint mixed with sand or other small particles. But you can also purchase texture additives made for mixing into latex or oil-based paints.
Texture paint can be applied with paint rollers and brushes. Never use these paints with spray equipment since the fine particles in the paint can clog and cause damage to the sprayer.
Start by taking a 1 1/2" or 2" brush and use it to paint areas where the roller cannot reach, such as corners. Brush the paint into the corners keeping the brush wet with the paint. This process is called "cutting-in." Stick to even brush strokes and try not to overlap the strokes. Over-brushing can result in spreading out the particles, resulting in a loss of texture.
After all the corners have been cut in, you can switch to the paint roller for the walls. Use a roller cover with a medium nap. Aim for long, uniform brush strokes and keep an eye on your work so that the texture is even throughout. Get in as close to the corners as you can.
Another good painting technique to learn is stippling. In stippling, it is the roller rather than the paint which creates the texture. This is one case where oil-based paints are best, though latex works well, too. Stippling is done with a stipple roller cover. These have a stiffer, firm nap in comparison with other roller covers. The nap of a stipple cover sticks up even after you load it with paint and this is the medium that provides the texture. The technique is the same as used with texture paint: start with a brush to cut in the corners and then continue with the roller for the walls, avoiding overlapping strokes. You may want to practice on a board or on the inside of a closet until you get your sea-legs with this technique.
Stenciling is used to create patterns and borders. Made of plastic, these reusable stencils can be bought at paint and craft stores. You tape them where you want to stencil, and paint the open areas using light strokes with a small brush. Don't overload the brush for clear outlines and so as to avoid drips.
Remove the stencil with care, use a rag to wipe off any excess paint, and tape the stencil next to the last painted area so that the pattern is well-aligned. Repeat until the border is finished.
An alternative to this method of stenciling is the stencil roller. These rubber rollers have raised patterns. You'll want to use a shallow, flat-bottomed paint tray to make sure that only the raised pattern of the roller becomes wet with paint. Aligning the roller with the last painted area is the tricky part. Practice on a board or even on cardboard until you've got the knack.