DIY-fan reveals controversial lazy painting hack for clean edges

If you don't have the patience for taping up edges this hack is a game-changer

blue tin of paint with paint brush
(Image credit: Getty / Jamie Grill)

A DIY-fan revealed her secret to getting crisp, professional edges without painter's tape using a file folder hack. However, it has stirred up some controversy on social media. 

Crisp edges are essential for giving painted walls or furniture a professional finish. While painters' tape is usually a standard part of how to paint a wall, TikToker Molly @therenegadehome has shared her simple hack for skipping this step.

In a TikTok video, she revealed how she uses a plastic file folder to complete painting jobs quickly and neatly. 'It’s something I like to call the file folder trick,' she explains in the video.


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'Plastic file folders work best, but you can literally use anything you have on hand. You just basically drag that file folder along with you. And it keeps the paint off of whatever you don’t want to be painted without having to spend a ton of time taping.'

Molly demonstrates how she trims the plastic folder down to get a straight edge. She then holds the folder next to the area she is painting to catch any excess paint, when she pulls it away she has a beautiful crisp finish. 

She shows how the hacks work a treat on the wall trim, kickboards and door edges of her living room and hallway paint ideas. She even uses it to tackle tricky spots on furniture and around door hinges. After she has painted an area she simply cleans the file with a baby wipe to avoid the paint being dragged across the floor. 

painted wall in home office space

(Image credit: Dulux)

The hack has had over 253K views on TikTok since it was posted. However, while the hack has gone down a treat with some DIY-ers looking to save time on DIY projects, it has stirred up some controversy. 

'Love this idea as every time I use tape it pulls all the paint off I just don’t get on with it this I will def try,' commented one fan on Instagram who couldn't wait to try the hack. 

'I loathe cutting in, so you just blew my mind. Now I’m looking forward to the next room. Thank you!' wrote another.

However, others were less convinced. 

'Don’t be fooled by this believe me it will get everywhere. Just use frog tape,' commented one skeptical Instagrammer. 

'Just use painter's tape,' wrote another. 'Trust me you’ll make a mess doing this and you're prone to the paint bleeding - you want to get under the baseboard to protect the doors - use wax paper rolls - they slide under effortlessly'

pink living room with grey trim around windows and grey sofa

(Image credit: Valspar)

Most professional decorators and paint brands recommend using tape for a clean and tidy finish when painting baseboards. Will Thompson, Head of Product Marketing at Valspar, recommends using a combination of tape, a dust sheet and cardboard.

'When it comes to prep, protect the floor by taping a dust sheet or a piece of cardboard underneath the skirting boards, then sand and clean the boards,' he explains. 'Prime the surface and leave it to dry. To paint, start at the top, positioning the brush at a 45-degree angle and go from right to left, starting in one corner of the room and working your way to the other.'

Are you team file folder hack or team tape?

Rebecca Knight
News Editor

Rebecca Knight is the News Editor on Real Homes. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She moved into digital journalism and developed an interest in homes and interiors when she joined the Ideal Home website team in 2019. Since then she has written for a range of gardening and interior websites including Town and Country, Homes and Gardens and Living etc. As a flat renter, she is always looking for smart DIY hacks that can be easily removed without annoying her landlord, whilst also helping her save money towards her first home.