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How to Prevent Poor Paint Flow and Leveling

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Streaky paint surface due to poor flow and leveling.

                Streaks caused by poor flow and leveling
                    (Photo: The Paint Quality Institute)

Visible brush and roller marks are the results of poor paint flow and leveling.

Poor flow and leveling occur when paint dries too quickly, before it has a chance to "flow out" properly. The result is a streaky or dry-brushed appearance. You can easily prevent this problem by taking the proper steps.

What Causes Poor Flow and Leveling?

  • Poor-quality paint is the leading cause of this problem
  • Using improper or low-quality brushes or roller covers
  • Brushing or rolling more frequently than necessary
  • Touching up, re-brushing or re-rolling dried or partially dried areas
  • Painting a warm or porous surface, which makes paint dry faster

How to Prevent Poor Flow and Leveling

  • Top-quality latex paints are generally formulated with ingredients that enhance paint flow. Brush and roller marks thus tend to "flow out" and form a smooth film.
  • When using a roller, be sure to use a cover with the recommended nap length for the application.
  • Use a high-quality brush. Using an inferior paint brush can result in bad flow and leveling with any paint.

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