Is it OK to cut in one day and paint the next?

If you are planning to paint a room in your house, you might be wondering if you can cut in one day and paint the next. Cutting in is the process of painting the edges and corners of a wall with a brush, before filling in the rest with a roller. It is a common technique to achieve a neat and professional finish.

The answer is yes, you can cut in one day and paint the next, as long as you follow some simple steps to ensure a good result. In this article, we will explain why cutting in is important, how to do it properly, and what to do before painting the next day.

Why is cutting in important?

Cutting in is important because it allows you to create a smooth and even transition between the wall and the ceiling, the wall and the trim, or the wall and another wall. If you skip cutting in and just use a roller, you will end up with a sloppy and uneven look, as the roller cannot reach the edges and corners well. You will also risk getting paint on the surfaces that you don’t want to paint, such as the ceiling, the trim, or the adjacent wall.

Cutting in also helps you to avoid lap marks, which are the visible lines that form when wet paint overlaps with dry paint. Lap marks can ruin the appearance of your paint job and make it look patchy and inconsistent. To avoid lap marks, you need to maintain a wet edge, which means that you should always paint over a section that is still wet, not dry. Cutting in helps you to maintain a wet edge, as you can paint the edges first and then fill in the rest with a roller while the edges are still wet.

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How to cut in properly?

To cut in properly, you will need a good quality angled brush, a paint bucket or tray, a painter’s tape, and a steady hand. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Prepare the surface. Make sure the wall is clean, dry, and free of any dust, dirt, grease, or loose paint. Repair any cracks, holes, or damages on the wall with spackle and sandpaper. Apply a primer if needed, especially if you are painting over a dark or glossy color, or a new drywall.
  • Tape the edges. Use a painter’s tape to mask off the areas that you don’t want to paint, such as the ceiling, the trim, or the adjacent wall. Press the tape firmly and make sure there are no gaps or bubbles. Alternatively, you can skip the tape and use a cutting-in tool, which is a device that has a small roller and a metal edge that acts as a guide.
  • Load the brush. Dip the brush into the paint bucket or tray, and wipe off the excess paint on the edge. You don’t want to overload the brush, as it will cause drips and runs. A good rule of thumb is to load the brush about halfway up the bristles.
  • Cut in the edges. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle, and start from the corner of the wall. Apply light pressure and move the brush along the edge in a smooth and steady motion. Try to keep the brush about 1/4 inch away from the edge, and let the bristles fan out slightly to cover the gap. You can also use the edge of the brush to create a crisp line. Cut in about 3 to 4 inches wide along the edge, and repeat the process until you have covered all the edges and corners of the wall.
  • Reload the brush. Reload the brush as needed, but don’t dip it too often, as it will make the paint thicker and harder to blend. You want to keep the paint thin and consistent, so that it dries evenly and smoothly.
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What to do before painting the next day?

If you have cut in one day and want to paint the next, you need to do some preparation to ensure a good result. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Wrap the brush. If you are using the same color and type of paint, you don’t need to wash the brush. You can simply wrap it in a plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and store it in a cool and dry place. This will prevent the paint from drying and hardening on the brush, and keep it ready for the next day. If you are using a different color or type of paint, you need to wash the brush thoroughly with water and soap, and let it dry completely before using it again.
  • Remove the tape. If you have used a painter’s tape, you need to remove it before the paint dries completely, otherwise it will be harder to peel off and might damage the paint. The best time to remove the tape is when the paint is still tacky, which is usually about an hour after painting. To remove the tape, pull it slowly and gently at a 45-degree angle, and try not to touch the wet paint with your fingers.
  • Cover the wall. If you want to protect the wall from dust, dirt, or insects, you can cover it with a plastic sheet or a drop cloth. However, make sure the paint is dry to the touch before covering it, otherwise it might stick to the plastic and peel off. You can also leave the wall uncovered, as long as the room is clean and well-ventilated.
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Cutting in is a vital step to achieve a professional and flawless paint job. It allows you to create smooth and even transitions between the wall and other surfaces, and to avoid lap marks and sloppy edges. You can cut in one day and paint the next, as long as you follow some simple steps to ensure a good result. You need to prepare the surface, tape the edges, load the brush, cut in the edges, wrap the brush, remove the tape, and cover the wall. By following these steps, you can enjoy a beautiful and durable paint job that will last for years.