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How can I paint a straight line better?

Hello everyone.

I’ve got a couple of jobs to price up and wanted to tackle them TP style so was going ask for a few tips to prepare myself but I was having such a nightmare today with my cutting in I thought I’d ask about that instead!

I thought my cutting in was alright until today! I was having a horrible time doing the walls at junction with skirting boards, walls at junction with coving and the underside of the dado rail!

I suggested to my mate at work that we would have had to re-form the bottom of the coving to make a neat right angled corner out of filler to give ourselves something to work with. There was no time or budget for this extra work though.

Skirtings: I tried crawling backwards with the wall on my right, using right hand, crawling forwards with wall to my left using right hand.

My left hand might as well be someone else’s for the control it’s got!

My mate crouches down and move sideways - god knows how he can see what he’s doing.

Check this page out from Jack Pauhl on how to cut in

You would all be shaking your heads if you saw me doing it!

The Jack Pauhl vids are great for speed but you have to master the basics first at considerably less speed! JP can achieve the one pass technique after a great deal of experience and its like learning to drive but watching a formula one guy !

First things first- caulk all junctions - wall/cornice, wall/skirting etc to create the straight line ready for painting. Its part of day 1 prep for me and allow to dry/harden overnight for next day painting. it may seem like an extra job but its a time saver for cutting in and more importantly creates a solid corner that paint won’t.

If its early days, try cutting in this way; make one pass 1 or 2 mm short of the ceiling/wall junction. I go left to right, then without reloading make a second pass back over (right to left) and then finish with third pass in same direction as first but this time moving the brush up the 1 or 2 mm, cutting in tight to the junction to paint your straight edge. Make the pass in one definite, positive stroke.
The advantage with the third pass is that the brush glides on the paint you have made at first and second passes and it is easier to get that edge really straight.

Try say a 1m length first then gradually you’ll get confident to make longer passes.

As with all techniques , use best practice and aim for quality; speed will follow with confidence.

re your original q, everyone develops their own method; mine, for what its worth, is to start on ladder to cut in upper section of left hand wall and continue along ceiling/cornice line working left to right. Then paint down the right hand edge of wall onto the top of skirting and work backwards, wall on my left, back to the starting point. Then roller out. Repeat for second wall etc. But I know others who cut in whole room then roller in one. And another who does all the highs first then all the lows. Experiment - you’ll soon find what works for you!

i have started using the fast trim roller,good piece off kit,getting a good angled brush may help with paint conditioner,and a bit off practice.Find what works best for you you tube also could be worth a visit,when i really started ,getting keen on glossing doors,i removed all the old doors in my house,and practiced until perfect,i am a great believer in repetition.

Dave: Your 3 passes makes sense to me, I think I have even done like that from time to time but not on purpose! I might stick with that technique for a while and try to get to doing some longer passes - 1 metre is a long one for me!

Darlic: I have one of those fast trim rollers in my box, I bought ages ago before I got the TP bug and thought I might be a bit of a gimmicky tool for the D.I.Y -er and haven’t used it yet! So I might dig it out and give it a go.

Thanks guys,


Dave’s technique is a good one, and I understand the point about speed. I would say though that I have seen rapid improvement in cutting-in technique where the painter loses a few inhibitions and lets their arm go. Not trying so hard can often produce more fluid and accurate results. Trust in the force and all that! JP doesn’t cut in as fast and accurately as he does by doing what is taught at college.