One of my first jobs in the trades was on a painting crew that specialized in painting Victorian houses. Two of the techniques that I learned then have stayed with me through years of carpentry and contracting, and I’m always surprised that more contractors don’t know them. The first is to caulk baseboards. On all paint-grade work, a bead of caulk at the wall and floor junctures is miraculous at cleaning up the lines of an entire room. A neat bead of caulk at an existing oak floor makes the baseboard and floor look almost new.
The second technique is to use the long, narrow paint roller know variously as “slim Jim” or “long John.” The handle is 2 ft. long, and the roller is 1 in. in diameter by 7 in. wide. With one of these you can reach behind toilets and appliances and roll right into corners without having to “cut in” with a brush. There is a trick though — the small rollers are notorious for leaving lint behind. This is cured by swiftly passing them over a gas-stove burner or butane lighter before using them. The flame singes the loose lint off the roller — but be careful not to ignite the thing.
Kurt Lavenson, Berkeley, CA