While I prefer to paint rooms completely, including the ceiling, I sometimes need to paint a single wall, or even a limited area of one wall.

For example, the kids may have drawn directly on the wall, or in the entrance area just one area of the wall is very smudged etc., and there may be a lot of furniture on the "good" walls which would just be not worthwhile to move around.

That said, what are good techniques to avoid ugly edges where your new paint meets the old? For example, at wall edges, would you rather stick on your masking tape on the wall that you are painting, or on the adjacent wall? Or would you avoid hard edges where new paint meets old, but somehow smooth the paint into the old areas? I saw an old professional painter do that once and it turned out fine, but I really have no idea how I would do something like that consistently.

I am mostly talking about the commonplace western europe white interior paints, not latex based paints.

2 Answers 2


Professional painters don't use tape.

They "cut in" the wall by using an angled brush in the corner. Usually a 2" (50mm to you) sash brush. This requires a fair bit of practice and a steady hand but once you are accomplished at it, it is much faster and even looks better then taping off, and even beats hi-tech painter's tape.

Then, they roll the wall right up close to the corner and you can't really tell they brushed the corners.

If you paint break to break (corner to corner or floor to ceiling) then a very small difference in shade is very difficult to see because of lighting. Additionally, you don't need to try to match the stipple of the of the existing paint.

Always save leftover paint in a stable temperature that doesn't freeze and you will be able to touch up nicks and scratches for years before having to change colors.

Good luck!

  • Yes, when I paint a whole room, I also do not mask off edges (where both walls next to the edge are getting painted) but do as you say. I do mask off areas like those raised wood panels (my english is failing here ;) ) at the floor since with my level of expertise, it is faster to apply the mask and pull it away than clean all the dripps or acidental nudges from the roller. ;) That said, my question is specifically about cases where I need to paint a single wall - what to do about the edges so everything does not look shabby? Would you use the brush "cut in" right into the wall edge?
    – AnoE
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 10:06
  • Only thing I would caution about keeping old paint is smell it before you use it. The government has been pushing VOC content to near zero to ease regional smog in many cities. Unfortunately VOC was a great preservative and prevented bacteria and mold. Now those go crazy in stored paint, turn the paint stinky, and turn your walls irrecoverably stinky when painted. Horror stories abound. Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 15:43
  • If you are just painting once in a while then taping off may be your best bet since cutting with a brush takes a fair bit of practice. Frogtape and 3M Platinum are a couple of the best painter's tape . They swell when the paint contacts them and they claim they make a nice straight line if applied properly. They will likely still leave a small ridge at the edge though.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 16:02

We just painted all the walls in our house and one technique that worked well is doing "cut in" as the other poster had suggested. Here's a video

In addition, I learned that to make the edge seem more even is to, while cutting in, make sure you get about 0.5mm or so of paint on to the adjacent wall (just a couple of bristles touching the adjacent wall). I saw a YouTube video about this technique.

The reason is that if you do this you'll get a much nicer straight edge than if you tried to avoid touching the adjacent wall.

Give that a shot.

  • Interesting concept. I will have to look up those videos.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 20:38

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