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Cutting In Tips For Painting


Prepping to paint can be a pain. The time spent putting down floor cloths and removing switches and outlets can often equal the time spent actually painting. That said, if you want a clean room and clean results prepping your room is very necessary. One area where you can reduce your time spent preparing however is in masking. Applying painters tape to doors, trims and moldings is handy but ultimately optional. The same results can be achieved by simply learning the professional painting technique of ‘cutting in.’

All you need is patience and a steady hand and you can eliminate the need for masking entirely.  Read on for insight into the tips, tricks and tools you can use to achieve a professional edge. Save yourself money and time spent prepping by following The Paint Shed’s easy guide to ‘cutting in. Find all you need for the perfect finish at The Paint Shed today. Browse our wide range of paint from Johnstone’s Trade, Dulux Trade, Crown Paints and more.

Cutting In Tips For Painting

Before painting you should decide if cutting in is the best option for your paint project. If you are planning to use more than one paint colour, cutting in gives you the opportunity to start painting immediately with minimal preparations. If you want to create a lighter trim say around a window, baseboard or ceiling you would start by applying the lighter paint first, then move on to painting your walls, taking the darker paint right up to the edge of the trim. The challenge here is in ensuring the two paint colours don’t overlap. For some people this is where they would use painters tape, but if you have a steady hand cutting in works just as well.

There are a few added benefits to taking a freestyle approach, not only do you reduce the cost by not buying expensive painters tape, you also have the instant gratification of seeing the two paint colours right away, allowing you to make changes as you go. You also won’t have to wait around for the paint to dry in order to remove the tape which gives you more time to perfect your technique.

How to Cut in Paint?

The practice of cutting-in involves using a trade quality paint brush to manually apply straight lines of paint along the edges of an area that does not require paint (light switch, door, mouldings) and therefore stopping the need for painters tape. This also applies to cases of separating two different colours using only a paint brush e.g painting where the ceiling meets the wall. Where beginners run into trouble is in achieving that perfectly straight line without the paint bleeding or overlapping into other areas. To perfect the practice all you need is the right equipment and the right instructions. Here are some pointers on how you can increase the speed and improve the accuracy of your cutting in technique.


Firstly here is the painting tools you will need:

A 2 or 2 ½ inch trade quality angled brush


A small bucket

A ladder

A drop cloth

A painters tool or knife

A damp rag

Painters tape

Prepare your area

The first step to creating the perfect trim is properly preparing your area. Even when you’re dealing with small amounts of paint, drips and spills can still happen. Taking the time at the start of your paint project to protect your floors and surfaces will prevent a messy clean up at the end.

Use a drop cloth to cover your surrounding area, moving it with you as you go and apply small amounts of masking tape to those hard to reach spots. Do so sparingly as taping can add extra time both in application and clean up, particularly if it is not applied properly.

Fill the bucket and load the brush 

Next you should fill the bucket with ½ an inch to 2 inches of paint, too much paint and you may overload your brush.  Dab the tip of your brush into the paint and wipe off any excess paint onto the sides of the bucket.

Apply paint to the line

Begin painting about an inch away from the area you are cutting in. Hold your brush horizontally to the floor with the tension of a pencil gripping and paint a 12 inch stripe on the wall. For a corner use a downward stroke and use a sideways stroke for a ceiling or baseboard. Once this line is complete turn your brush 90 degrees and go back to the beginning of your stroke. Using a long even glide cut in a thinner line of paint that meets the trim or wall corner. Take care to erase brush marks and even out the outer boundaries of the painted area. This will ensure a smooth, seamless finish.

Perfect the line

Lastly lightly dampen a clean, white rag to wipe off any mistakes and clean your surfaces. If you do this immediately after application paint should come off with no trouble.


Cutting In Tools

If you are not a seasoned painter, there are few other ways to achieve a professional finish. Cutting in a room by hand is only one of the many ways to perfect your trims, moldings and ceilings. Other options include; using an Accubrush which will act as a roll on paint edger so you can lay down paint rather than smearing it, this will help you achieve clean, crisp edges. You can opt for a pad style paint edger which gives you better control over your paint application or you can try masking with painters tape. All of these options work just as well for achieving a precise, pain free paint job.

Paint Edging Tips

Here are some decorating cutting in tips to get you started.

Use a light touch

Applying too much pressure on your strokes can lead to easy mistakes and paint dripping from your brush.

Use a high quality brush

It is well worth investing in a trade quality angled sash brush. It will not only make your job easier, it will save you the time and frustration spent on masking. Shop our wide range of high quality paint brushes here.

Wiggle the brush

When it comes to tight corners wiggling your brush can be a good technique for filling in the areas you may have missed.

Work in bright light 

To paint an accurate cut in line you will need as much light as possible, be aware of your own shadow and use a headlamp if you need one.

Work quickly

Working confidently with a steady hand is the best way to achieve a successful cut in. Glide the brush along the wall using your entire arm in one quick stroke.

Paint Skills & Tricks 

Cutting in may be a technique associated with professional painters but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply this time saving, cost reducing practice at home. Any professional painter will tell that a great paint job is only as great as the work that comes before it. This is why (if you are not using painters/masking tape) it is crucial to cut in around your trims, ceilings and baseboards before rolling paint on to your walls. While a fresh coat of paint can quickly update a room, it is the neat lines where your walls meet your ceilings and trims that will determine a professional finish. 

For more helpful guides on improving your painting technique look to our tips and advice blog.  Find top tips on paint finishes, the correct order to paint a room and more.

Shop all you need to get started today at The Paint Shed, our trade quality paint and accessories are the first step to a successful paint job.