How to Use a Paint Edger

painter using a paint edger

Painting a room is a rewarding DIY project, but achieving clean, precise edges can be challenging, especially if you’re a beginner. That’s when a paint edger comes in handy. It makes you complete the task quicker and more effectively. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use a paint edger. 

What Is a Paint Edger?

A paint edger is a handy tool that makes it easier to paint edges, corners, and trim. It has tiny wheels on each side and a flat pad attached to a handle. A paint edger helps you achieve a razor-sharp line and avoid drips. 

A paint edger can save DIYers a lot of time and improve the quality of their work. Pros usually don’t use this tool because they rely on their ability, honed over countless hours of practice, to cut in freehand with a trim brush. 

Tools Needed

  • Paint (latex paint is a better choice for interior painting, while oil-based paint is generally better for exterior work)
  • Paint tray 
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint edger
  • Drop cloth or plastic sheet

You can purchase these tools from Amazon or your local home improvement store. 

Choosing the Right Paint Edger

Paint edgers primarily come in three types:

  • Pad-style edgers are the most popular because of their ergonomic design. They have an absorbent flat square pad that holds and releases paint as needed. Pad-style edgers cost about $5
  • Roller-style edgers use a 4-inch mini paint roller to apply paint. The roller cover evenly distributes paint along surfaces. On average, roller-style edgers cost $50
  • Brush edgers are attachments with brush-like bristles that fit onto standard paint brushes. They work with various brush types and provide a clean edge. The average price of brush edgers is $13

Pad-style edgers are the best choice for DIY projects because they are affordable and easy to use. So, let’s primarily focus on pad-style type in this article. You can, however, use the same techniques for other edgers. 

Steps to Use a Paint Edger

1. Prepare the Surface and the Edging Tool

Surface Preparation:

  • Vacuum the dust from the wall or clean it with a tack cloth for a smooth finish.
  • If there are any imperfections like cracks or holes, fill them with spackle and scrape the extra with a putty knife.  
  • Apply painter’s tape to the edges you don’t want to get paint on. Use a drop cloth or plastic sheet to cover larger surfaces. 

Edging Tool Preparation:

  • Attach the paint pad to the edger by clicking it into the slot. 
  • Ensure the pad aligns correctly on the edger. If not, you may have installed it upside down. 
  • Use a lint roller to remove dust and lint from the paint edger. 

2. Load the Paint

Follow these steps to load the paint on the paint edger. 

  • Pour the paint into the paint tray. 
  • Lightly dip the edger pad in the paint. Ensure the paint is applied evenly and there’s no paint on the wheels. 
  • If there’s excess paint, wipe it off on the tray’s edge to avoid paint drips and get the finish you expect. 
  • Test the edger tool on cardboard or scrap surface to ensure it works properly. It also helps you get a feel for the tool’s movement. 

3. Start Painting

Photo Credit: Janice Chen / Canva Pro / License

Now comes the fun part — painting. Here’s how you should paint with an edger. 

  • Start painting from the corner to get a consistent finish. 
  • Run the paint edger along the surface gently. Applying excessive pressure will cause the paint to go on too thick and lead to paint sagging or dripping. The built-in guide wheels will help you maintain a straight line. 
  • Overlap strokes slightly with each pass to apply an even coat of paint.
  • Tilt the edger slightly to paint the corners and edges. 
  • Paint tight corners with a paint brush
  • If the paint edging tool runs out of paint, reload and continue painting from the wet area to prevent lap marks.
  • A second coat of paint provides better coverage and a smoother finish. If you want to apply it, allow some time for the first coat to dry, which typically takes around 30 minutes for latex paint and 6 hours for oil-based paint.
  • Lightly sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper and then apply the paint.

4. Touch Up

Once you apply the paint, inspect for sags or bare spots and fix them with a paint brush. The quicker you act, the better. Touching up can be difficult once the paint dries. 

5. Clean Up

Pull the painter’s tape at a 45-degree angle to avoid lifting the fresh paint. Also, don’t put the furniture back in place until the paint dries.

Follow these steps to clean the paint edger.

  • Use a putty knife to scrape the excess paint from the edger pad. 
  • Remove the pad and wash it thoroughly with soap and water to remove latex paint. Use mineral spirit or paint thinner to clean oil-based paint.
  • Rinse the edger pad and set it upright to dry. 

Note: Clean the paint edger immediately after use because it can be difficult once the paint dries. 


Should I use a paint edger before or after rolling the paint?

Use a paint edger first to paint along the edges and corners. Then, roll the larger surfaces.

Can I use paint edgers for large-scale projects? 

Yes. However, choose a 9×6-inch paint edger or larger for big paint jobs to save time. 

Can I use a paint edger for exterior painting?

Yes, you can use paint edgers for both interior and exterior painting. However, choose a large paint edger (at least 9×6-inch), as exterior walls are usually larger. 

When to Hire a Pro

Painting a room is fun, but painting the entire house requires significantly more time and effort, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Paint Gnome connects you with the best professional painters in your area who can help you with everything related to painting, from helping you choose the right paint to applying it to clean up.

Main Image Credit: photovs / Canva Pro / License

Abdul Wadood

Abdul Wadood enjoys painting and is currently on a mission to help homeowners transform their living spaces from boring to beautiful. When he's not painting, you can find him exploring the world.