Tools for Painting Edges & Corners

Updated April 17, 2017

Edging is the best way to begin painting an interior wall. This type of painting preparation saves time and creates clean edges near the ceiling, around windows, sockets and where two walls meet. Proper edging consists of 2 to 3 inches of paint framing the wall or hard-to-reach areas prior to using a roller.


Paint brushes from the hardware store come in a variety of styles, from very soft bristles to hard, stiff bristles. Use a 1.5-inch brush for fine details and a 3-inch brush for cutting-in room on the edges of walls. Some painting brushes for interior walls are angled, while most are flat. Angled brushes are good for painting directly into corners, while flat brushes are helpful around windows and to flatten out any thick lines left from painting corners.

Brushes with stiff bristles commonly leave a texture behind in the paint, whereas softer bristles will leave less bristle textures in the paint. Soft bristles may wear quickly if painting on textured surfaces. You typically get what you pay for with brushes. Less-expensive brushes tend to shed bristles as paint is applied.

Edging Pads

To cover an area quickly in paint, an edging pad is the best choice. The tool itself is usually made of plastic with refillable pads which are made for a variety of paints. Similar to a brush, the pad is dipped into paint and then dragged in one direction down the wall. It is difficult to get a clean edge with the pad, so taping the wall prior to use is helpful if a straight edge is desired.

Unlike brushes, edging pads do not leave textures in the paint. Instead, they tend to leave a smooth surface which is ideal to paint over with a roller. If using an edging pad over a textured or rough wall surface, the pad may wear quickly. Edging pads can be reused if the paint is water-based and if they are rinsed out with soap and water immediately after use.

Edging Rollers

Similar to a regular paint roller, edging rollers are dipped in paint which is applied by rolling in one direction. Because of their small size, it is easy to paint in hard-to-reach areas. The rollers are refillable and come in a variety of textures, including decorative sponges for creating visual texture.

Edging rollers offer a clean edge which is more precise than edging pads. They can be rinsed out and used again if the paint is water-based.

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About the Author

Ellen Dean is a visual artist and painting teacher. She has been teaching and writing articles on art since 2001, and has been a professional artist since 1999, (, after studying sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is an NYFA Fellow and was nominated by the Sovereign Art Award/Sotheby's Hong Kong, two years in a row.