After painting several rooms in my years traveling the country, apartment-hopping, I've sharpened my brush skills. Today I sit before you to say that I've completely abandoned the blue tape and will now only be freehanding my edges.
Cutting in saves you two steps: One, saving time on the actual taping off part. How many times can you apply, tear off, and reapply the tape because you didn't hit the line of the moulding or wall flush-on and now it's crooked? Two, taping off always results in touch-ups. According to This Old House, " Another problem is bridging. "Latex paints form a skin," says Dixon. "Removing painted tape can tear the skin, resulting in a ragged rather than a sharp line." Lastly, taping takes time. "Learning how to cut in with a brush takes practice, but if you can do it, you'll leave most tapers in the dust," Dixon says. (Cutting in is painting just the surface you want, not the surface adjacent to it — for example, where a wall meets the ceiling.)"
In the case of my project yesterday, taping off was futile because the condition of the walls. This apartment building was probably 100 years old, with about 15 years of paint accumulating on the walls. Tape, in this case, was worthless in many spots because you couldn't get a flush line due to old paint bumps (despite our best efforts sanding). I was able to freehand and fake straighter lines with my brush because I was able to control my line with my brush.
Speaking of brushes...I recommend a 2" beveled edge brush from Home Depot like the one shown below. Skimp on the rollers, etc, but always throw down for a good brush!
Lastly, get yourself a gel manicure. They last weeks and can withstand this:
Enjoy! Happy Friday!