Never painted before. I've decided to paint my studio, which is a 770 sq rectangular space.

I'm going to need to paint the ceiling as well as the walls. I am planning to follow John Burbidge instructional videos on youtube. I'm going to paint the ceiling first then the walls. I'm going to use a roller for the majority of the work. I have several questions:

When painting the walls do I "cut-in" just the areas I'm going to paint or do I cut-in all the walls?

For example:

  1. if I were going to paint the right side of my studio on Friday night and the left side on Saturday would I still cut-in the all the corners and edges? Or just the ones connected to the wall I'm planning to paint that day?

  2. what if I were going to take 3 a hour break between painting the right side and the left side?

As you can see, I'm trying to figure out when I should cut-in the entire room as oppose to cut-in only part of it.

Could you also explain how the "frame/border/halo" effect happens? This is where the cut-in area is a different shade? Is really because the "cut-in" area had dried before you painted the area?

4 Answers 4


It really shouldn't matter. In the end, it's the exact same paint so it should match.

What can cause the halo, though is if your brush vs. roller technique lay down different amounts of paint. In my experience, it's easier to lay down a thicker coat of paint with a roller than brush, so after doing one coat of cutting in, and then one coat of rolling, you may notice the edges look lighter because there is less paint there. That said, I've yet to find any magical wall paint that only takes one coat so by the time you get the second (or sometimes 3rd coat) on you shouldn't notice it.

The only reason you may not want to cut in well before you roll is if you want to reduce the amount of brush marks as much as possible. While the color won't change based on what you are using, the texture may.

What I typically do is do them both at the same time. I'll cut in around a window, then roll as close as I can get safely with the roller to even out the texture. Then I'll cut in the ceiling on the same wall, then roll that, repeat.

Also, if you just hate cutting in, or have so much to do it's daunting, consider not doing it all at the border of the ceiling and walls and instead roll close to it, then when finished, tack up some crown moulding. It doesn't have to be fancy moulding at all...even a 2" bit of slightly tapered door casing can look sharp.

That's the technique I usually use on already painted rooms that I'm repainting. Often the previous paint job at the border is just sloppy enough that even if I carefully go to the edge, there's enough spots of the old color that creep out that it just looks tacky. In those situations I go get the pre-finished window casings from Home Depot (can be found for less than a dollar a foot) and tack them up with a brad nailer. For a slightly more modern look you can use plain dimensional trim (such as a 1 x 2).

Yet another technique to avoid all that cutting in at the corner of the ceiling and wall is to simply paint them the same color. I'm redoing a bath that needs new paint on both the walls and ceiling so I'm going with a very light gray for both.

  • You can also end up with a halo effect, if you wait too long between edging and painting and don't mix up the paint well enough. Or if you edge and paint out of two different buckets of paint.
    – Tester101
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 11:17

Could you also explain how the "frame/border/halo" effect happens? This is where the cut-in area is a different shade? Is really because the "cut-in" area had dried before you painted the area?

I've seen this happen when someone touches up spots after a wall has been painted completely. I feel it happens because the paint was not properly mixed to begin with or was not mixed well enough when the touchup was done.


Whoa! I have done a lot of painting, and a brother-in-law of 10+ years is a painter, and I have never encountered your terminology.

I surmise that cutting in relates to the edges of a patch of fresh paint. I rarely concern myself with that. Between priming and putting on two coats of paint to get the coverage and saturation to be even, that erases the edges resulting from stopping and starting.

When using different colors (or saturation, or finishes—flat/gloss/etc.), it is important for existing paint to be quite dry. That is easily tested by touching it with a bare finger. It should not move, stick to the finger, feel wet or the slightest bit tacky.

As far as covering one color with another, it should be minimized: the colors mix according to the rules of color mixing, even when dry. Unless the top layer is put on thickly—which means 3+ normal coats.

  • 5
    Maybe it's regional, but 'cutting in' refers to using a brush to paint a clean line along the edges of the painted surface (wall borders, window frames, etc.) before painting 'the field' with a roller. This is opposed to using masking tape for everything.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 7:50
  • I've heard these terms used in youtube :-) like I said I don't know anything about painting
    – hba
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 22:46

Wow. That's one big room to paint. And, it's your first time painting as well.

Well, still, I would spray it. Anytime I go to paint a large area, but not nearly as large as you're going to paint, I spray. I use a Wagner Paint Crew 770 that has served me well over the past 10 years.

Sure it costs for the sprayer, but it's more fun spraying: way more fun. Well, the masking off ain't fun. But the spraying is. And the quality is not comparable: they don't roll paint on cars do they!

If you should choose to go with spraying, and post back, I can give you some tips based on my experience in spraying. I've made lots of mistakes, so I've got lots of tips.

  • 1
    Sprayers are great, but can be overkill for a single project, especially if you don't already own one. And the prep work to mask and drape everything can often take longer than the extra cut-in effort.
    – brichins
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 18:15

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