Do you roll or cut in first when painting

Do you roll or cut in first when painting?

Are you ready to give your walls and ceilings a fresh coat of paint, only to find yourself staring at your walls, paintbrush in hand, wondering, do you cut in or roll first?

If this sounds like you, don’t panic! 

In fact, this is one of the most common questions I find in my emails. So, I decided to put together this article and settle the debate once and for all.

I’ll delve into the best approach for painting your walls and ceilings, uncovering whether it’s best to cut in and then roll or roll first and then cut in. 

I will give you a step-by-step guide on how to cut in your walls and ceilings and tell you the best tools in the trade to make cutting in easier. Also, I’ll discuss whether cutting in should be dried before rolling or rolled while it’s still wet.

Let’s get to it!

Man cutting in wall with paint brush

Do you roll or cut in first when painting walls?

Always cut in first when painting walls. If you want to get that trademark finish professional painters are known for, cutting in first will put you on the right track.

I cut-in before I roll on every paint job I complete – just like this one in Hampstead, and the finish is always perfect!

If you cut in after rolling, the final finish won’t be as good, and it will take you longer to paint your rooms.

That’s because cutting in first ensures the entire surface gets an even coat of paint. But when you roll your walls first and then cut in, you’re more likely to end up with an uneven finish and paint roller marks on your walls.

Also, when you cut in before you roll, you save time painting because you won’t have to slow down or be as careful around the edges when rolling the walls.

How to cut in a wall when painting?

When cutting in your walls, it’s crucial to get it right. It could be the difference between a DIY disaster and the paint finish we all dream of.

When you cut in your walls, you first need to make sure you have completed all the prep work required before you begin wall painting.

Assuming you have prepared your walls and covered your furniture and flooring, you’re ready to cut in your walls.

Here’s how!

Tools Needed

Here are all the tools and products you’ll need for cutting in your walls:

• Stirring stick in order to mix your paint
• Angled paintbrush (my favourite is the Purdy XL Dale Elite Paint Bush 1 inch)
• Paint tray or bucket
• Ladders

Steps to cut in paint at walls

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to cut in your walls:

  1. Open your tins of paint and give them a quick stir with your stirring stick.
  2. Pour your paint into your paint tray. Dip your angled paintbrush into the tray.
  3. Hold your paintbrush at an angle. Position the brush in the corner of your wall and gently begin brushing. 
  4. With your first brush stroke, get close to the edge of the wall (leaving a 2 cm gap away from the ceiling). If you try to cut in the wall with the first stroke, you’ll end up with a wonky line because there’s too much paint on your brush.
  5. Instead, with the second stroke, cut in a straight line across the edge of the wall. To keep the lines straight, use the tip of the brush and let it glide across the surface.

Once you finish cutting in, rolling becomes easy. To roll your walls, start at the bottom and roll in a ‘W’ or ‘M’ pattern to get an even finish when applying the paint. You’ll want to add at least two coats of paint.

Pro Tip: If you find the edge is too wide, move the brush away from the edge of the wall and continue painting the wall until there’s less paint on your brush.

Cutting in ceilings with a paintbrush

Do you cut in first when painting a ceiling?

Just like you would when painting your walls, you need to cut in around the perimeter of the ceiling first before you roll the surfaces.

Cutting in first helps you get a more precise finish and reduces how long it takes to paint your ceiling. That’s because cutting in allows you to take a smaller paintbrush to the edges of the ceiling, ensuring a more accurate line.

How to cut in paint at ceiling?

Just like when painting your walls, ensure your ceilings are prepared for painting before you begin cutting in.

If you have already prepared the ceilings, you can start to cut in.

Tools Needed

Before you begin, you need to make sure you have all the tools required for the job:

  • Stirring stick
  • Angled paintbrush (my favourite is the Purdy XL Dale Elite Paint Bush 1 inch)
  • Paint tray or bucket
  • Ladders

Steps to cut in paint at ceiling

Before cutting in your ceilings, ensure you have all the equipment you need for cutting in to hand. 
Let’s begin:

1. Position your ladder underneath the area you want to paint. Make sure you choose a ladder that is the correct height for your ceiling – leaving enough space to comfortably paint the ceiling.
2. Open your paints and give them a quick stir using your stirring stick. 
3. Pour the paint into your painter trays.
4. Hold your angled paintbrush at the tip of your fingers to give you a good grip on the brush. Position your paintbrush as close to the corners of the ceiling as possible and gently drag the brush across the surface in a straight line.
Pro Tip: Keep the pressure on the brush the same as you apply the paint on the ceiling. If you use this technique, you’ll find it easier to get a smooth and even finish.

Best tools you can use for cutting in

If you have just finished reading my step-by-step guide to cutting in and have a confused look on your face, you can resort to one of these DIY tools to make the job a little easier.

Here are two tools used in the trade I’d recommend:

Shur Lined Paint Edge Pro: 

This tool will help you cut in your walls and ceilings with straight lines. It’s a compact piece of equipment, so it’s easy to carry and use. 

It works by attaching a fabric pad to a handle that can be dipped into your paint and spread on your walls in a straight line – leaving you with perfect cutting in ready to be rolled.

However, speaking from first-hand experience, it’s not always so simple. The tool can quickly get dirty with paint splashes, which ruins your neat lines when you run it across the surface. So, be careful!

Cut-N-Edge brush edger and guard:

This tool comes with a shield that attaches to a paintbrush by clipping on to ensure the bristles keep in place and help you to create straight lines when cutting in.

However, it’s made out of cheap plastic, so I would probably only buy it with the intention of using it a handful of times.

Woman in painter and decorator overalls cutting in wall

Do you let cutting in dry before rolling?

You need to roll your surfaces before the cutting-in has dried.

If you leave the cutting in to dry before you roll the paint on the surface, you could end up with an uneven finish.

To solve this problem, I’d recommend completing the cutting in one section at a time. This way, you can roll your surface while the cutting in is still wet, ensuring it blends well.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that you need to cut in on the first and second coats of paint. Before you apply the second coat, let the first coat dry completely.

Paintbrush resting on top of a paint tin

How to get rid of cutting in lines when painting?

If your paint is still wet when you can see the brush marks from your cutting in, you can try to blend the lines with the rest of the surface. To blend the lines, touch in the lines with a technique called ‘filling in’ by lighting feathering the brush where your cutting in meets the rolled walls.

Or you can contact a local painter and decorator like ours in Hampstead for help if your walls look too bad to save.