How to Paint Cut Wall Edges

The Art of Painting Cut-Ins

By Mark J. Donovan

Painting a room can dramatically rejuvenate its look and feel. With a can or two of paint, a couple of paint brushes/rollers and a few hours of time just about anyone can paint a room in a house. However, to do a quality job it is important to use the right painting tools and techniques. One of the most important techniques to ensure a quality paint job is painting cut-ins. It requires the right paint brush, and a steady hand, and an eye for perfection.

To paint cut wall edges use a tapered brush, and preferably a narrow width brush, e.g. a 2 or 2.5 inch wide brush. Also, with any paint job first make sure you prepare the area appropriately.

Remove items from the room and place drop clothes on the room floor to catch any paint drips. In addition, use masking tape to mask off any hard to reach or awkward areas to paint. However, use masking tape sparingly. It takes a lot of time to mask and unless it is put down very carefully you may end up with paint seeping underneath it.

To paint cut the wall edges pour some paint into a smaller paint bucket. Then hold your paint brush as if you are holding a pencil. The longer bristle side should be in line with your pointer finger. Then dip the paint brush into the paint bucket, but only the first one inch or so of the paint brush. You don’t want to apply a lot of paint to the brush when cutting paint. Tap the paint brush bristles along the sides of the paint bucket before lifting it up and out of the bucket. This will help to remove any excess paint from the brush.

Now is where the precision begins. I like to get up close and personal with the wall edge or ceiling edge I am paint cutting. This way I have a better controlled hand and paint brush.

Start cutting by applying the paint brush bristles about 1 inch away from the wall or ceiling edge. Then glide the paint brush towards or upwards to the wall or ceiling edge. Once the paint brush bristles meet the edge maintain a smooth and steady stroke for approximately one foot.

Repeat this process one or two times to ensure a solid application of paint onto the wall, but on the 2nd and 3rd passes turn the paint brush 90 and 180 degrees to apply all the paint on the paint brush to the wall edge.

Again, you want to apply long and even strokes as if you are a surgeon making a very fine and straight cut.

As you make the second and third passes with the paint brush feather out the paint line edge and expand another inch or so away from the wall or ceiling edge. This will help to ensure a smooth and seamless finish after you paint the rest of the walls with a paint roller. Yes, you should paint cut prior to painting the main wall surface areas with a paint roller.

Proceed to make your way around the room paint cutting. Then when done, allow the paint to dry before applying a second coat.

Paint cutting

Keep in mind that paint cutting takes some practice and patience. However, it is well worth the effort. Smooth straight paint cut lines can really make the difference between a professionally looking paint job and a crappy one.

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