Whether you’re painting trim or a window frame, it’s important to make sure the paint covers only a very small area and doesn’t “bleed” off to the side. I’ve tried using masking tape to hide areas that I don’t want to paint over, but tape doesn’t always create a smooth line and perfect finish. The “cutting in” technique eliminates the need to use any type of tape altogether. With this technique, you apply paint directly on to the surface using very light pressure, and angle the paint brush in a certain way for an even application.
Paint Projects that Use the Cutting In Painting Technique
Paint projects that use the “cutting in” paint technique include:

– Edges of the ceiling
– Areas around crown moldings
– Window frames
– Staircases
– Areas around baseboards
– Casings

Tips When Using the “Cutting In” Technique

1. Choose the right brush. When you’re cutting in to corners, use a slightly angled brush because this brush will help to get right in to the edges to create a smooth line. Use a square-cut brush for wider surfaces and areas where you are not painting corners.
2. Create a “cut bucket”. Fill a small bucket or paint pot with only about an inch or an inch-and-a-half of paint. This is enough to load up a brush with just the right amount of paint you need.
3. Apply very little paint. Loading up your brush with too much paint can make it difficult to achieve a straight line and smooth finish. Make sure you are using a very small amount of paint at a time, and get rid of excess each time you dip your paintbrush into the cut bucket or paint pot. Remember that you can always go back and add another layer of paint if needed – it’s harder to remove extra paint once it’s already on the surface.
4. Paint with the tips of the brush, not the whole brush. You want to make sure that a very small “wave” of paint moves along the head of the brush when you are painting the area. Using a worn and used brush for this process can help because the bristles won’t be so stiff.
5. Move slowly. Keep your hand steady and avoid “breaking” from the line you create until you reach the end of the surface. Move your brush very slowly to distribute the paint as evenly as possible. Wait until the paint is completely dry before you paint the areas around the area you have painted using the “cutting in” technique.

It can take some practice to perfect the “cutting in” technique. Still, it’s a better alternative than using masking tape or cloth, and can produce more professional-looking results.