This Viral Hack Promises Perfect Tape-Free Paint Lines — So I Put It to the Test

published Mar 5, 2021
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#TikTokmademebuyit is an ever-trending phrase on the popular social media app. TikTok is full of design inspo — as well as small hacks and tricks that can help make your DIY jobs easier — and it’s led to plenty of impulse purchases that may or may not live up to their hype.

So when I discovered this TikTok by user @laurcarnow that made painting along the edge of her baseboards and trim look like a breeze, I, too, fell victim to #TikTokmademebuyit. The comments were blowing up, the views were climbing, and I decided: I need this!

The idea is this: A paint edger includes both a flat, even surface to apply paint, and wheels on the sides that help guide it in a straight line. Sounds genius, right?

I ordered this $9 paint edger from Amazon and was feeling proud of myself until I went to my local paint store to get the rest of my painting supplies. I shared my excitement about this product with the person working that day who tentatively warned me that I might not love using an edger. She said at their store, they don’t even carry edgers because most people don’t love the results.

It’s also worth noting that I’ve interviewed several professional painters about basic DIY job painting techniques, and no one has ever recommended using an edger.

I was feeling a little less excited about this endeavor, so I decided to do some research to set me up for success (and I picked up some tried-and-trusted painter’s tape just in case this all went downhill).  

To correctly use an edger, you are to place the edger in your paint, making sure not to get any on the wheels. Then you use the rolling side of your paint tray to remove any excess paint. When you have the right amount, you place the edger (wheel side) against the baseboard or trim on the wall you’re painting, then move it along the trim until you’ve successfully painted that space. 

It seems simple enough, and I felt confident. I prepared the area I wanted to paint in my living room. I was going to use the edger along the baseboard and it was going to save me so much time by not having to tape off the baseboard and deal with amateur paint brush strokes

I carefully dipped my edger in my coral paint (Sherwin-Williams’s Comical Coral), removed the excess paint, felt good about it, and placed the wheels along the baseboard. But the paint wasn’t getting all the way to the baseboard. The wheels were preventing it from getting close enough.

Credit: Erin Johnson

So I tried flipping it and using the other side (like Laur does in her TikTok hack — admittedly saying that’s not the correct way), and although I didn’t have excess paint on my edger, the paint that was on there found a way to squeeze out and get all over the tops of my baseboard. I quickly wiped up what I could, but then I was frustrated.

Credit: Erin Johnson

I tried painting the paint on the edger with a paintbrush, hoping that would keep it from soaking up excess paint from the tray, but I got the same results. And aside from the dripping paint, the edger left behind a weirdly brushstroke-y block all along my trim.

After messing up an entire wall’s baseboard, I gave up.

The silver lining was that I tried freehand painting to cut in at the corners (since I didn’t want to tape off the baseboards in the first place) and while the final product wasn’t perfect, it looked much better than the wall that I edged, and it gave me the confidence to know that perhaps I have a steady enough hand to use that technique moving forward.

I reached out to the TikTok owner, Laur, to see if there’s something I missed.  

“You have to be super careful not to get paint on the rollers. I did a few times and it made it more difficult as I would get paint on the trim so I would wipe it off and keep going,” she told me.  

She even explains that’s what happened in her original video. However, besides keeping an eye out for paint on the wheels, it seems to otherwise work for her.

“In the video, I was waiting for some of the excess paint to dry on the wheels which is why I turned the brush sideways,” she explains.

She adds that she knows this product has mixed reviews, and even her mother who is a great painter with a steady hand doesn’t like to use it — but for Laur, using an edger is a better option than having to tape off all the trim in her home. 

While her TikTok hack did not work for me and ultimately left me with pink smudge marks on my baseboards, it did help me discover that I have a pretty steady hand. Moving forward, I now know that my preferred technique is cutting in with a brush — but I’m still willing to give any viral hacks another try.