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Paint experts tips on cutting in paint like a pro


If you’ve ever ventured into the world of painting in any capacity you may have heard of the phrase ‘cutting-in’. You may have also seen the extremely satisfying videos on TikTok which are currently trending with over 40 million views on the hashtag #cuttingin. Although cutting in paint is a technique often associated with professional painters, with some practice and helpful tips you could also be applying this time-saving, cost-reducing practice at home. An example could be painting your wall but avoiding the skirting board in your home.

Cutting in is where a straight line is painted separating two colours using only the paintbrush.

Michael Rolland from The Paint Shed has provided some top tips to get you cutting in like a pro in no time.

Painting tools you will require:

  • A 2 or 2 ½ inch trade-quality angled brush

  • Paint

  • A small bucket

  • A ladder

  • A drop cloth

  • A painter's 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 stains or a messy cleanup 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 the application and clean up, particularly if it is not applied properly.

Fill the bucket 

Next, you should fill the bucket with ½ an inch to 2 inches of paint, too much paint and you may overload your brush.


Load 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

Push your brush onto the wall to make a curved sort of shape with the brush, remember this shape of the brush as this is what you’ll need when it comes to cutting in. 

Start 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. Take off any excess and then push down on your brush to create the shell shape and drag your brush up to your top line. Only the top few bristles on your brush should be touching the top line, this will help you keep control and stop you from going over the line. 

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

Even pros occasionally get paint where they don’t want it. One method of cleaning up mistakes is to wrap a damp, clean rag around a putty knife. Then carefully slide the putty knife along your line to wipe the mistake away. You have to do this right away, though. Once the paint starts to dry, you’ll have to use more aggressive measures. If you do this immediately after application paint should come off with no trouble.

Use a light touch 

Make sure when you are pushing down on your brush to create that shell look, you aren’t pushing too hard. Applying too much pressure on your strokes can lead to easy mistakes and paint dripping from your brush.

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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, but it will also save you the time and frustration spent on masking. 

Work in bright light 

Make sure you have enough natural light when cutting in. 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.

You’ll also need to get your body in a good position in which you can see the light clearly. For cutting in along a ceiling, get as close as possible for the best and most accurate view of the cut-in line. 

Work quickly

To get the best results, you’ll want to 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.

Do one wall at a time  

Once you start and have got the hang of it, cutting in can be a very satisfying job and you might be tempted to cut along all the trim. However, you’ll get a much better result if you cut in just one wall at a time. Once you have finished one wall, you can immediately start painting. Begin painting immediately whilst there’s still a wet edge, this means your wall paint and cut-in paint will blend much better, reducing the chance of lap marks.

Michael Rolland, DIY Expert
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