Whilst many people opt to use frog tape to achieve straight lines, nothing is more satisfying and indicative of a decorator’s quality than cutting in a sharp line using a brush.
Whilst there’s some debate as to what holds more importance between the decorator’s skill or the quality of the cutting in paint brush there’s no denying that a high-quality cutting in brush is going to make your life that much easier.
But what should you look for when buying a cutting-in paint brush? And are there specific brushes that are recommended by professional decorators?
In this article, I’ll break down what you should look for when buying a cutting-in paint brush and also recommend some of my favourite brushes.
With that being said, let’s jump in…
Cuting In Brush Buying Guide
Before going into specific brushes that I personally recommend, I’m just going to quickly touch on what you should look for when buying a cutting-in brush.
Paint holding capacity – I like my cutting-in brush to hold plenty of paint. It means I can paint a continuous, uniform line without having to stop and try to join the line where I left off. Additionally, holding more paint allows me to get the job done quicker and reduces the chances of a picture-framing effect when it comes to rolling.
Durability – Durability is, of course, an important consideration before buying a cutting-in brush. You’ll want something that keeps its shape after multiple washes and doesn’t lose bristles over time.
Fineness of the tip – The finer the tip of your brush, the sharper the lines you can achieve. It’s that simple.
Best Cutting-in Paint Brushes
1. Purdy XL Elite
Any ‘best paint brush’ list is incomplete without the mention of Purdy so it’s no surprise that the Purdy XL Elite has claimed a permanent place in my toolbox for the times I need to cut in.
At first glance, it might seem a tad floppy, but I assure you, give it a day or two of use, and it transforms into a reliable brush that delivers incredible performance (but might burn a hole in your pocket).
When it comes to cutting in, this brush has unrivaled finesse. The bristles, while requiring a brief breaking-in period, are masterfully designed to go exactly where you need them to. The accuracy they provide for clean, straight lines is hard to match. With a brush like the Purdy XL Elite, even the most intricate edges become less intimidating.
One of the reasons this brush has earned my loyalty is its exceptional paint-holding capacity. When cutting in you want to work quickly to minimise the risk of picture-framing when rolling, so the fact that this brush eliminates the need for constant reloading is a big plus.
When it comes to durability, The Purdy XL Elite is top-notch. Unlike others I’ve used in the past (Hamilton Perfection, for instance), the Purdy XL Elite manages to hold its shape and integrity even after extensive use and washing.
It is worth mentioning that I have noticed a slight drop in quality over the years. The brush sometimes loses a few bristles during washing, presumably due to changes in their manufacturing process about 15 years ago. Nevertheless, the issue is minor and doesn’t detract from the brush’s overall performance.
In terms of comfort, the Purdy XL Elite scores highly. Its ergonomic design ensures extended use doesn’t result in aching hands.
To sum up, the Purdy XL Elite is a superb cutting in brush, striking a perfect balance between price, performance, and durability. Once broken in, I genuinely believe there’s no better cutting in brush out there. It might have a few minor issues, but they’re far outweighed by its positives.
2. Prodec Ice Fusion
Among the paintbrushes that have impressed me, the Prodec Ice Fusion certainly stands out. These brushes are a testament to quality and durability, and unlike others I’ve used, they don’t shed bristles, which is a significant plus.
For about three months, I used these brushes solely for emulsioning and found them to hold up beautifully. After this, I used them with gloss and eggshell finishes and was delighted to see that they delivered a perfect finish each time.
Cleaning the Prodec Ice Fusion brushes is a breeze, as they don’t tend to clog up. This is a considerable advantage for those who like to maintain their brushes for the long run.
In terms of price, the Ice Fusion brushes are half the cost of some of their competitors, like Purdy, and they deliver just as superior a performance. They work well with all kinds of paint and are particularly effective in delivering smooth finishes with oils.
However, there’s a slight trade-off. I found that the 3” Ice Fusion brushes tend to wear down somewhat quickly on emulsion, although they still deliver impressive performance in oils.
The bristles on the Ice Fusion brushes could be a tad longer for my liking. They’re excellent for covering large areas, but when it comes to painting small edges or skirting, they don’t hold as much paint as I would prefer. Despite this, they are superb for cutting intricate lines, thanks to their fine tips.
One area where the Prodec Ice Fusion brushes excel is in cutting in bold colors. They are, by far, the best brushes I’ve used for this purpose.
All in all, the Prodec Ice Fusion brushes are an affordable, high-quality option. They might have their minor flaws, but their performance, easy maintenance, and durability more than make up for it. These brushes deliver an impressive finish and prove that good things come in affordable packages.
3. Wooster Gold Edge 2″
The Wooster Gold Edge 2 has been a recent favourite of mine, especially when precision is needed. It’s a superb choice for cutting in ceilings and navigating around wallpaper where any mistake is difficult to rectify.
The standout feature of this brush is its paint-holding capacity. It’s surprisingly high, allowing for fewer dips and longer strokes, saving you precious time on your painting projects.
Another reason I have a soft spot for the Wooster Gold Edge is its durability. I’ve found that these brushes are real workhorses that stand up to daily use throughout the year.
The bristles strike an ideal balance between soft and firm, contributing to a beautiful finish. The handle is comfortable, and designed for prolonged use without causing hand fatigue.
However, be warned: always wash these brushes with cold water. Hot water can weaken the glue holding the bristles in place. If you do this, the Wooster Gold Edge brush is truly an exceptional tool, offering a blend of precision, durability, and a comfortable grip.
4. Arroworthy Finultra
Now let’s chat about the Arroworthy Finultra which is a very solid brush. Using it is a breeze and cutting in almost feels like it’s doing the work for you. Furthermore, this brush holds plenty of paint and delivers razor-sharp lines, all while being comfortable to hold.
When it comes to cutting in above skirting boards, the Finultra is one of the best brushes for the job as it leaves such a neat finish. I’ve honestly been so impressed that I’m planning to get a few more.
With that being said, it does have some downsides. For example, the Finultra can go a bit stiff after a while, even if you’re really careful with it. But for its price and how well it cuts in, it’s not the end of the world.
I used to be all about Purdys, but Arroworthy’s are starting to become one of my new favourites, and I know a bunch of other decorators who feel the same. Having tried the Finultra over the past year or so I have to say, it’s top-notch.
It’s soft, holds a fair amount of paint, and can handle any water-based finish. A worthy addition to any toolkit, this one.
5. Axus Onyx Cutter Brush
Axus Onyx Cutter is the final brush that’s made it onto my list of favourite cutting-in brushes.
I’ve used it a few times with emulsion and it’s done a sound job every time. It holds a good bit of paint, cuts in neat, and leaves no brush marks to complain about. The bristles have a nice stiffness to them, so if you don’t get along with cutting in brushes that are too soft, this one could be right up your street.
As mentioned above, I usually go for Purdys, but the Axus Onyx is a solid alternative, especially considering it’s a bit lighter on the wallet.
Here’s the thing with the Axus Onyx though – I’ve found that they work a treat when they’re new, but after a few washes, they start losing a bit of their magic. That’s when I’d suggest switching them to use with stuff like Zinsser BIN instead of emulsion.
With that being said, cleaning them out is a breeze, and they don’t clog as some of the higher-end ones can. Overall, not too shabby, these brushes.