The basic principles of cutting in will be the same no matter what project you’re taking on, but for this example I’m going to explain how to cut in if painting a room in emulsion paint with a feature wall of a different colour.


What you need

You will achieve great results and have a much easier job if you use a good quality paintbrush. Look for synthetic brushes with a decent bristle length - DIY superstore own brand brushes will do the job nicely and are good value at around £10 for a pack of three. For example they should contain a 30mm, 50mm and 70mm brush, or alternatively a 1”, 1.5” and 2” brush.

Avoid stubby short-bristle economy brushes as the results are likely to be sub-par - you will find it almost impossible to get a clean edge and they will shed bristles.

How to start

It’s always best to start at the top when decorating to avoid splashing lower work, so the first thing to do is paint the ceiling. At this point, cutting in the ceiling is easy as the purpose of this is just to apply paint in the corner areas that the roller can’t get into.

Using a medium sized brush around 40-50mm paint the edge of the ceiling overlapping onto the walls. The idea is to overlap onto the walls about 1-2 inches and onto the ceiling about 2-3 inches. Then you can fill in the large area of the ceiling which is left to paint with the roller.

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How to cut in

Once the ceiling is dry you’re ready to tackle the walls. I would start first with the three walls of the same colour. Cutting in the two vertical corners is just a case of painting into the corners where the roller can’t reach as you did with the ceiling, but the skirting and ceiling edges need cutting in carefully.

At this point it would be tempting to use a small brush for accuracy, but this will make the job harder. A smaller brush holds less paint so will need to be removed from the wall and recharged with paint more frequently, meaning shorter brush strokes.

Each brush stroke increases the chances of a bumpy edge so using a larger brush which can hold more paint means you can paint a longer section without having to stop and recharge the brush. The same applies when tackling the edges of your feature wall.

Try to work with confidence at a smooth steady pace - go too slowly and you may be more likely to wobble and create bumps. Keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe back any mistakes as they happen.


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Tony Slade
Tony SladeArtist, signwriter and carpenter

Tony Slade is an artist and traditional signwriter with over 40 years’ experience. During his career he has developed and honed carpentry, painting, signwriting and artistic skills working on projects producing handmade bespoke signage, pictorial work, shopfront and pub refurbishment, gold leaf application and sub-contract painting. He is now working as an artist producing fine art landscape and seascape paintings.