HOW TO: Maximize Efficiency Cutting-in

Last week we talked about four components required to be productive cutting-in ceiling lines. This week we take a look at Field of Vision, Length of Run and Load Balancing to achieve maximum efficiency.

Field of Vision

Get a visual on what you want to accomplish from your current position. In the photo above, collectively it’s an area divided by three cuts or three loads of paint. The Field of Vision is the cut, broken down into parts. A common mistake is focusing on only whats in front of you. You can watch countless videos on YouTube on the subject of cutting-in and see what I’m talking about. Efficiency comes with mapping an area, determining the best approach and connecting the dots.


Determine where you’re going and how much paint you need to get there, including the active cut and sequential cuts within your sight. In other words, the focus of my cut is NOT in front of me. Its in front of me (active cut) and where I want to finish. The above photo has two endpoints indicated by the arrows.

When we talk about executing definitive cuts, that means I set out to cut a large area broken into specific cuts but not always equal. Based on my field of vision (above) – I determined it will take 3 loads of paint to complete that area. Let me clarify. The brush is loaded to go a specific distance. I don’t load my brush to see how far it gets me. I stop and start cuts exactly where I want them to be. Take a look at load (b) below. Load (a) and (c) are equally heavy loads and the brush is pushed to its limits. Load (b) however is a partial load because two loads is not enough to cut my field of vision. This is based on where I am standing on the 3’ wide step ladder without getting off of it.

Make achievable target areas within your field of vision, load (a,b,c). My preferred length-of-run is 6′ which is determined by the capabilities of the brush. This can be 4′ at the line and 2′ down an inside corner as seen above. When I cut-in straight long runs at the ceiling, I typically break them down into 5′ or 6′ sections.

Load Balancing

Perhaps the most difficult skill to acquire is load balancing. You load a brush capable of covering your target area and distribute that load to cover the target evenly. With the active cut above, load (a) needs to be distributed evenly across 6’. To see load balancing in more detail, head over to Formatting the Cut and another example.

With proper planning—your cuts will be more efficient.


We take a look at ‘line-of-sight’ and how it plays a role in cutting ceiling lines.

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One Response
  • Robert Reply

    Great article Jack. I’ve learned so much from your site.
    Regarding your brushes, do you prefer a thin or thick handle? I’m
    starting to see mire thin handles and was wondering what the
    difference was. Also, I would love to see an article on dry wall
    patching. I typically patch imperfections, prior to painting. I use
    a 1/2″ nap and roll-on the primer heavy. I usually let it dry and
    then a re-apply the primer. I do this 3-4 times to build-up the nap
    on the patch. But low and behold, I can still see the smooth patch
    area after painting. Any advice? Thanks!

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