How to Buy a Good Paint Edger

Paint edger

Interior painting is one of those home improvement projects that verges on fun. Slow, lumbering projects like kitchen remodels take a long time before you see results. But painting offers immediate results and dramatic changes. Yet for many users, paint edging—the practice of bringing paint to the edge of ceilings, trim, or wall junctions while keeping it razor-sharp and avoiding drips—can be a nerve-wracking experience that is anything but fun.

Paint edgers offer the tantalizing promise of crisp paint edges rendered not with the cutting-in technique or with paint masking but with a neat tool that maintains the edge for you.

Paint Edging Techniques

When painting interiors, you have three main methods of drawing a perfect paint edge: cutting in, masking off, or using a paint edger.

Cutting In

Professional painters typically opt for the freehand cut-in technique when edging a room. Yet few inexperienced do-it-yourself painters can successfully cut in paint without slopping onto the other side. Cutting in is all about experience and patience.

Masking Off

Masking off the unpainted side with painter's tape is another alternative. But masking is time-consuming, requiring as long as half an hour to mask a small room with one door and one window. If the room has complexities like crown molding and wall fixtures, taping time increases. Quality painter's tape, which can never be reused, is very expensive.

Painter's tape is effective but not perfect. Bleed-through under the tape is common, and tape that appears to be straight when you apply it might actually have a slight curve to it.

Paint Edger

All paint edgers promise to eliminate the chaos of freehand painting. Paint edgers usually slide or roll and use the unpainted surface like a track to keep them in line. Paint edgers, being a specialty tool, can be expensive. Other than replacement pads or roller covers, this is a cost that remains static for as long as the tool remains in functioning condition. Contrast this with the cost of continuing to buy painter's tape on a continuous basis.

Paint edgers are standalone tools designed solely for the purpose of drawing straight lines along the edges of field (or main) areas. They completely eliminate cutting-in, painter's tape, and masking tape by allowing you to run paint directly alongside areas that you do not intend to paint.  

Paint edgers are typically used for wall painting, such as above baseboards, below the crown molding, around window and door trim, and at the juncture between two walls, such as for accent walls.

Types of Paint Edgers

No paint edger is perfect. Each paint edger comes with its own set of limitations and positives, and much of your success with the paint edger is a matter of matching your skills and temperament to the paint edger. Paint edgers come in two types: roller-style edgers or pad-style edgers.

Spreader Paint Edgers

Spread-on edgers employ a pad that spreads the paint across the surface. In some cases, paint may feed from a tube or the pad may need re-loading from the paint can or paint tray.

Spreader paint edgers are usually the least expensive type of paint edger; some even cost less than $10. With a lower investment cost, you may feel more comfortable purchasing a spreader paint edger than a roller edger.

Spreader paint edgers tend to smear the paint rather than brush it on. Lines are inevitable, but these lines can be painted over with subsequent runs with the edger or with a brush.

Roller Paint Edgers

Roller edgers lay down the majority of the paint with a small flocked paint roller cover. Some brands include a metal or plastic shield to prevent the paint from slopping over to the other side.

Accubrush MX and XT are two of the most popular roller-style paint edgers. While expensive, Accubrush paint edgers generally do a better job than pad-style edgers.

Tips For Buying a Paint Edger

  • If a paint edger has a special roller or pad that is difficult to find or is very expensive, the overall cost of the edger skyrockets.
  • What is the paint edger's edge-most point? For some edgers, it may be a small brush. For others, a metal or plastic guard. Other edgers may have no defined edge point other than the edger itself.
  • Paint edgers need to move. Roller-style edgers move with the least friction, but speed can be difficult to control. Pad-style edgers are easy to control, but the paint tends to smear.