how to4 min read

How to cut in when painting

Lick paint tin and brush on decorators canvas

If you’ve ever ventured into the world of painting in any capacity, you’ll have come across the phrase ‘cutting in’. 

So, what exactly is ‘cutting in’ when painting? 

'Cutting in' (okay, we’ll stop adding quote marks to it now) is the term used to describe the technique of outlining walls and ceilings before you start to paint the rest of the surface. Read more about some tips on how to prep walls for painting here. Essentially, it means starting off with a border. Kick off a paint job by cutting in and (if done right) you’re guaranteed to achieve neater corners and an overall crisper and cleaner finish. 

Cutting in may feel like an extra step but, trust us, it’ll save you time and result in a more flawless paint finish.

Hand holding black paint brush

What you’ll need

Start by gathering your gear and prepping the space and surface:

  • Grab a small angled 1" or 2" cutting in paint brush that allows you to get into all the nooks, crannies and corners. Get yours in our Single-room painting kit or Multi-room Decorating Kit.
  • Invest in a small paint roller - about 4 inches should do the job. 
  • Move your furniture out of the way and cover with dust sheets.
  • Lay a protective biodegradable dust sheet down on the floor.
  • Scrub the walls with soap and fill in any gaps and holes. Sand down so they’re smooth and ready.
  • Mask up any edges and skirting boards that you don’t want to get paint on (read our tips on how to paint skirting boards).

    (Tip: As part of your cutting in process, use a smaller version of the roller that you plan to use to paint the rest of the room. Getting another model may result in a different effect for the cut in area - not what you want!)

Hand applying black paint with paint brush

The process

Cut in just before you start to paint. A freshly painted cut in section blends in a lot more seamlessly when it’s not yet dry.

Stir your Lick paint in the tin and load your brush halfway up the bristles. Careful not to overload. 

We’d recommend starting to paint an inch away from the first corner you’re cutting into. Using your small angled brush, draw along the line of the corner and move inwards to paint a crisp line along the edges of the surface. Taking care not to miss any edges, paint back the other way to add more coverage and fill in any gaps. 

With a pigment rich paint like ours, differences in shade will be visible depending on the amount of paint applied to your surface, rather than a brush creating a different color. That’s why we always recommend applying two coats of paint to get the perfect color. 

Note: A difference in shade between cut-in areas and the main part of the wall won’t be due to the paint itself, but the amount of paint applied. Our expert decorator recommends cutting-in prior to painting the main sections of the wall and then rolling as close to the cut-in edge as possible (whilst the paint remains wet) to make any differences between the brush marks and rolling as minor as possible.

Continue to work your way around the room, tackling one section at a time. Make sure you cut into the corners where two walls meet (even if you’re planning on painting both those walls) - you won’t be able to squeeze your larger paint roller in there. 

Leave the edges loosely brushed so you can easily blend the trimmed area in with the rest of the surface. We’d recommend using your small paint roller to roll out the paint you have cut in. This way, you’ve got the roller effect blending into each other. 

Top tip: What you want to do is cut in and immediately start rolling the coat whilst the cutting in remains wet, this allows the two brush types to blend much better.

Ready to paint the rest of the surface? Using your paint roller, start painting on top of the cutting in so you blend both sections together. Remember, you don’t want your cut in section to be visible. 


And there you have it - you’ve just learnt to cut in like a pro. Insert hands in the air emoji.