How To Paint A Curved Wall

Some walls curve at the corners, and these “bullnose corners” can make painting jobs a little more tricky than usual. Paint rollers could easily follow a concave curve from side to side. But bullnose edges will often require special tools and techniques. As such, we have thoroughly researched how to properly paint a curved wall along with what you’ll need.

There are only a few important steps to follow when you need to paint a curved wall with unique “bullnose” corners:

  1. Prepare the surfaces
  2. Prime the area
  3. Mark desired edge
  4. Apply painter’s tape and seal
  5. Apply paint, remove the tape, and restore hardware

Painting a curved wall is mostly similar to ordinary walls, but the rounded bullnose corners need special treatment. Keep reading to learn how to paint these odd corners, how to make sure your walls are painted evenly, and if roller marks naturally go away.

Painter applying gray paint on the curved wall, How To Paint A Curved Wall

How do you paint with curved corners?

You can begin with these troublesome corners as you would with any wall. You’ll need to prepare the surfaces the same way and add primer to ensure a strong bond with the paint.

But curved wall corners, which are commonly known as bullnose corners, can make it difficult to paint a straight edge. You’ll probably need unique tools to create a straight and clear path for your paint.

Once you mark where you want the straight edge of your paint to be, you can use painter’s tape to help you create the desired layer.

1. Prepare the surfaces

Cleaning the mini split air conditioning system

The walls of your home are likely made up of drywall, so there are three steps to properly prepare this surface before you prime and paint it.

Remove Hardware

First, you’ll want to remove any hardware, which mainly includes all of the wall plates. These are used to cover up your outlets and light switches. Any other similar obstacles should also be removed.

Clean Thoroughly

Next, you’ll want to clean the surface for dust and filth. Dust the walls by starting from the ceiling and working your way down.

For stains and hard grime, you can also lay a drop cloth on the floor beneath the walls so that you can lightly wash the area.

It’s usually fine to simply use water and liquid soap instead of commercial products to save money. However, make sure the water is warm and the soap is clear. Otherwise, you might stain your drywall.

Repair Damages

Drywall is generally weak and easily damaged. However, it can also be pretty simple to repair with spackle or joint compound, which is also known as drywall mud.

Spackle is easier to use and it dries quickly, which makes it the most common solution for small holes, cracks, or dents. But drywall mud can be better suited for unusually large damages.

You’ll need a scraper tool like a putty knife as well as a sanding sponge to level out your holes and damages. Then, fill the area with your spackle and smooth it out. If necessary, add another coat after the spackle dries. Lastly, you can sand and clean the area again.

Click here to find this spackle on Amazon.

2. Prime the Area

Primer is a highly beneficial and essential tool for new paint. It acts as a bonding agent for the drywall so that you won’t need to apply so many layers of paint. Primer can also serve as a barrier between the paint and any spackle that you had to apply. 

Some paints include primer in the formula to save time, but not all colors are available this way. For example, you can read our post Does Benjamin Moore Paint Need Primer? if you prefer that popular brand.

Begin by applying a 2-inch ribbon of primer to the framing edges of the wall. Then, use a loaded paint roller to apply a full layer of primer to the rest of the wall.

Work in V-shaped rolls, working from top to bottom. In this way, move from one side of the wall to the other. Remember to use this method on small areas until you have finally covered the entire wall.

Click here to see this primer on Amazon.

3. Mark the Desired Edge

Two walls with different colors can meet at a bullnose corner. In this case, you’ll have to decide if you want to prioritize one of the colors, letting the preferred color wrap all the way around the rounded corner.

Or, you can make the colors perfectly even by cutting the bullnose in half with a centerline. This will create the impression of a 90-degree angle from most reasonable distances.

You can try to create a straight edge by eyeing it or using multiple strips of painter’s tape. For a centerline, you might also eye the desired line by using the shadows from natural lighting.

Lastly, you can try to line up your edge with the joint of the baseboard trim on the foot of your wall. However, these methods are still likely to end up with an inaccurate edge overall.

Drywall is already bumpy and tough to work with. As such, you will probably need a specialty tool to help you plan a straight edge for the paint job.

Luckily, there are a variety of commercial brands that sell tools designed to find the line you want. Most of them allow you to simply press the tool against the wall, then slide it while supporting a pencil. This will allow you to accurately mark the drywall.

Click here to find this bullnose marking tool on Amazon.

4. Apply Painter’s Tape and Seal

Lay down painter’s tape to protect the baseboard trim at the foot of your wall and any crown molding trim at the top of your wall. You might find pre-cut painter’s tape for odd shapes. Then, apply painter’s tape to the desired edge that you marked for the paint job.

Click here to find this painter's tape on Amazon.

Sealing the Painter’s Tape

New coats of paint often sneak underneath the painter’s tape and bleed, disrupting the clean lines. So, some people use a clear bead of caulk to secure the painter’s tape while they work. Caulk is a joint filler that can later be removed.

However, it would be much easier to use paint that matches the existing wall instead. Use a paintbrush to work the matching paint towards the painter’s tape. This is a great way to seal the painter’s tape without pesky caulk or bleeding.

5. Apply Paint and Restore Area

Worker painting the wall with a light blue paint

Now, you should use a paintbrush to apply your new paint color away from the tape that runs along the marked straight edge on the wall. This should create a smooth, blended look.

For the rest of the walls, you can use the exact same technique that you used for the priming. With a paint roller, create V-shaped strokes across the walls. Work from top to bottom and from one end to the other.

Once the painting is completed, you can restore all of the hardware and wall plates that were removed earlier on. If you plan on painting the ceiling too, you can check out our post Should You Paint The Ceiling Or Walls First?

How do you make sure walls are painted evenly?

Uneven coats of paint will often be highly noticeable because each layer of paint can show through the top layer. Making an even coat of paint on your wall is mostly based on technique.

Again, it’s important to work in smaller areas. You should also make sure the paint roller is fully “loaded," meaning it is full, without soaking it too much either. Avoid dunking your roller all the way into the paint.

Aside from making a V-shape, you can also try to work more quickly. This way, you can continue to use the wet edge from the last layer of paint rather than letting it dry completely. This technique can make each layer blend more naturally.

Additionally, you may smooth out your layers of paint with the same roller that you used to apply them. This should be done gently, or you can cause roller marks. But it will make the layers feel more unified.

Will roller marks go away when the paint dries?

Oddly enough, roller marks are also known as “holidays." According to specialists, roller marks will not disappear on their own.

Roller marks are mainly caused by loading your paint roller without using enough paint or painting with the wrong amount of pressure.

To fix the issue, you can apply touch-up paint with a roller, working in the same direction as the original layer. You can also use a very fine grit sandpaper to level down the paint.

In Closing

Walls are mainly straight due to practical reasons, even for spiraling staircases. But they can still curve into bullnose corners. As such, it’s crucial to learn how to mark the desired painting line and properly apply painter’s tape. Now you can successfully paint the area without bleeding or uneven lines.

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