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How To Paint Baseboards

a woman adding a strip of painter's tape to the baseboard

Table of Contents

Are you considering what kind of molding you want to use to add to the finishing touch of your freshly painted room?

Well, there’s none more common than baseboards, and in this guide, we will walk you through step-by-step How to Paint Baseboards.

Your baseboards, otherwise known as trim or skirting boards, run along the floor of a room. Therefore, many grime can easily gather around there, and they can get scuffed up as they are very close to the floor.

Painting your baseboard will guarantee a cleaner and fresher look by improving the overall cosmetic look of your room, and it will only take you a day or two.

Whether you go for a basic or elaborate design, baseboards are required for two important reasons. One is that they create a visually pleasing passage between the walls and floor.

The second is that they can cover up any imperfections along the perimeter of flooring installations, for example, hardwood boards with uneven edges.

Despite key reasons for installing and maintaining baseboard molding, several people don’t think about theirs until the paint starts to chip or the baseboard is scuffed. On the bright side, you can freshen up your baseboards with a fresh coat of paint.

Although it’s a virtually simple project that most people can do, you must consider some important aspects before painting. Continue reading out the guide to figure out How to Paint Baseboards.

What Paint Type Is Best For Baseboards, Oil or Latex?

Using either Oil-Based or Latex-Based paint on your baseboard depends on the type of finish you are aiming for and has several differences, such as drying times that you will want to consider.

Typically, oil paints are the preferred paint for professional painters. Because of its oily substance, it leaves a professional finish and dries smoothly. Oil paints are also highly durable and will resist any scrubbing and cleaning.  

Despite the enhanced finish, you must remember that oil paints release VOCs, which are harmful to inhale and difficult to dispose of. Furthermore, oil paints can take anywhere between 10-18 hours to fully dry and cure, so you will not be able to finish your project over a weekend.

Latex paints(water-based) take a lot less time to dry and cure, so you may be able to complete your job quicker. Unlike oil paints, they don’t release harmful chemicals and are easier to clean up if you make any mess.

However, they are not very durable, and as baseboards are prone to scuffs and need to be kept clean due to the proximity to the ground, you may find it is not the best choice. Although the durability of latex paints is not the best, they’re becoming increasingly popular.  

Key Fact: A semi-gloss or high gloss paint is the best choice for baseboards. It will help increase resistance against any scratches or marks and is easier to wash off than flat or matte paint.

What to Paint First, Baseboard or Walls?

An important factor to consider when discussing how to paint baseboards is whether you will paint the baseboards or the walls first.

While professionals admit that the order you paint your room, whether walls then baseboards, vice versa, boils down to personal choice rather than a correct or incorrect way.

Some people prefer to take their time and paint the trims and rely on the painter’s tape to prevent any serious mistakes leaving only minor issues to touch up later.

Others find it easier to paint the bigger space first, so they don’t have to worry about any splatters landing on the baseboards, as it will be covered when you get round to painting the baseboard.

However, for inexperienced painters starting on the first DIY project, it is suggested that painting the walls first is a lot easier, and less time is consumed.

Painting the wall first:

For first-time painters, this order of painting walls then baseboards allows for mistakes, such as paint spills or splatters, that can be taken care of when you move on to the baseboards.  

When painting the wall, if you use your roller to bring the paint as close to the baseboard as possible, all you need to do is cut in with your angled paintbrush to get a sharp line finish to the corners of the room.

If you opt to paint the baseboards first, it puts a lot of pressure on you to be precise with your brush strokes.

Most people will use a high gloss paint, and if this touches your wall and you plan to paint the wall with flat or matte paint, there’s a possibility that the sheen may show through creating an unprofessional look.

Of course, that then means you’ll have to repeat the cutting process twice to fix any wonky lines or paint splodges, lengthen the time it will take to paint your room and baseboards.

Painting the walls first offers self-satisfaction:

All paint jobs require time, patience, persistence, and energy.

Although painting a room can take a long time, even if you have only completed half, you can take a step back and look at the fresh coat of paint, instantly see the difference, and notice the room looks brighter and cozier.

Recognizing the changes your newly painted wall has, and being satisfied with your DIY handiwork, can help you persevere and give you the energy to complete the rest of the paint job.

Can You Use a Roller to Paint Baseboards?

You can use a roller to paint your baseboards. It’s recommended that you use a smooth-medium 2-3-inch roller.

You want to make sure that your roller is lump-free and consistent when touched. To check if your roller is suitable, run your hand over the roller to check for a smooth feel; if you feel any bumps and lumps, select another one.

Take some painter’s tape and place it on and off your roller to remove any lint; this will ensure no fuzzy material ends up on your trim or baseboard.  

Remove Baseboards or Not Removing Baseboards

Baseboards are usually painted and help in place on the walls. However, it is easier to remove the baseboard and paint in a different room in some situations to save any mess or mistakes. We will go through the reasons when you should remove baseboards and when it’s best to leave them where they are.

When to Remove Baseboards

If you are painting the baseboard in a new home or home that hasn’t been subjected to a lot of remodeling, it would be ideal for removing your baseboard. Usually, the baseboards can be removed using your fingers and a thin pry bar in a new house.

If you enter the home and the baseboards have not been installed, it’s always better to paint them before attaching them to the wall. Although there may be minor blemishes when installing the paint baseboards, this can always be covered by touching up the damaged areas.

Tip: Removing the baseboards in a new home is an easy job and can provide a cleaner and better-looking result.

When to Leave Baseboards in Place

Moreover, it may prove difficult to detach if you are painting an older home where the baseboards may have multiple layers of paint on the wall-to-baseboard. As the baseboard will be fully adhered to the wall, removing it may cause the paint to rip, taking off wall paint and possibly plaster.

If you feel like removing your old baseboards is the best option, then sure you score along the seams around the entire room. Use a utility knife to score the seams, as this can help to reduce any damage to the walls or plasters while you pry the baseboards.

Tools and Materials Needed

How To Paint Baseboards: picture of painters equipment, painter's tape, paintbrushes and roller
Photo Credits: Pixabay.com
  • Primer
  • Semi-gloss or High-gloss paint
  • 2-inch angled paintbrush
  • Drop cloths
  • Spackle
  • Putty knife
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint guard
  • Plastic sheets
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Protective equipment: Goggles, Gloves, and Long-sleeved clothing
  • TSP
  • Bucket

How To Paint Baseboards, Step-by-Step

Step 1: Clean the Baseboards

As mentioned previously, your baseboards or skirting boards are one of the dirtiest parts of your home because of how close they are to the ground. Baseboards tend to be home to a build-up of dust and grime, so it is paramount that you get a thorough clean before painting.

Take out one of your drop cloths or plastic sheets and spread it over the floor before you begin work again. Pour some Trisodium Phosphate, TSP, and some water into a bucket and mix.

Remember: Before you begin to mix the products, make sure you lock at your products instructions to ensure you are using the right amounts of TSP to water.

Using a sponge, wipe down the baseboards with the mixture. Ensure you clean the top of the baseboards down to the bottom; the dust will collect on the horizontal surface.

Be Careful: TSP is a strong chemical cleaner, and because it etches materials, it can damage glass, mirrors, and darken aluminum

Step 2: Apply Spackle to Any Damages

Carefully inspect the area of baseboard molding you plan to paint, looking out for any nicks, dings, or holes that may have appeared over time. Whilst looking, rub away flaking paint, so you have a smooth surface.

Apply the spackle with your knife to any disfigured areas and allow the compound to dry.

Step 3: Sand the Baseboards

a person picking out the correct sanding paper
Photo Credit: Pexels.com

Like any painting job to end up with a satisfying and professional quality finish, thorough preparation plays the biggest role.

If your boards were in bad condition, meaning you had to use spackle to correct errors, or even if your baseboards are old and haven’t been examined for a while, you would want to lightly sand the area with medium-grit sandpaper before you considered painting.

Hand-sanding should be okay to create a smooth surface for paint application, but if you prefer to use a sanding sponge, that’s also fine.

Key Insight: Take extra care with sanding if your baseboards are old and have several layers of paint on them.

Step 4: Wipe the Baseboard to Remove Dust

Once you are happy with the sanding result and any spackle is completely dry, you can vacuum around your baseboards and then wipe them down with a damp cloth, removing any dust and dirt.

Let the area dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 5: Lay Down Painter’s Tape

Lay your painter’s tape along with the two joining’s- where the baseboard meets the wall and where it meets the floor. You aim to get the tape as close to the baseboard as possible without overlapping it.

Laying down painter’s tape is time-consuming, but it helps to speed up your painter’s job and decrease clean-up time.

How you rate your painter skills depends on how much tape you apply. If you consider yourself a concise and careful painter, one strip of painter’s tape covering the wall should be okay for you. If not, apply as much as you feel it will offer you full protection.

Bear in Mind: Masking processes do not assure perfect results; it simply helps to tidy up the paintwork. Excessive paint will make it harder to remove the tape when dry. So, remember to be patient and take your time.

Try to remove any space between the painter’s tape and your floor protection- either drop cloth or a plastic sheet.

Hot Tip: Pick out a wider painter’s tape if you’re worried about getting paint on the wall.

Step 6: Prime the Baseboards

If your baseboard does not have a primer applied but is just a plain raw surface, you must ensure it’s primed before applying any paint. Previously primed baseboards can also benefit from a coat of primer to brighten up your finished project.

Stir the primer before dipping in your two-inch angled brush. You do not want to overload your brush as it can create streaks and drips. It would be best if you aimed to cover the bristles about one-third and then wipe off the brush to clean any excess paint.

Check your primer tin for manufacturers’ guidelines on how long it takes the primer to dry.

Professionals Tip:  Hold the brush between forefinger and thumb and apply strokes horizontally to the baseboards. Only reload the brush with paint around one-third of the bristles. Gently strokes work best and ensure your keep a wet edge– covering the edges of the previously painted section before the paint dries.

Step 7: Paint the Baseboards

Before you do anything, you must make sure the paint in the can has been rigorously stirred or shaken up, especially if the paint has been sitting for a few days.

Likewise, with painting as with priming, pay close attention to overloading the brush with paint. Dip the brush to around one-third of the length of the bristles. Gently tap the brush against the inside of the tin to clear any excess paint.

The recommended place to begin painting your baseboards is in one of the corners, working your way around the perimeter in one-foot sections.

Using your angled brush, you can begin adding paint to the baseboards. Working in long strokes at a slow speed, paint horizontally following the distance of trim in a single direction. Try to paint over previous areas before the paint dries to avoid an uneven mark.

Tip: You don’t want to brush back and forth, as this will create an uneven finish as well as lap marks.

After you have completed your first coat, wrap it in a plastic bag or plastic food wrap to prevent your paintbrush from drying and close around the handle with a rubber/elastic band. You can store the brush in a cool, dark place until you are ready to apply a second coat.

To achieve an even and smooth finish, you may want to lightly sand over the painted area with your sandpaper. This will give the paint some texture, so the next coat will adhere and bond with the baseboard more effectively.

Don’t Forget: Remove any dust from the sanding process before applying a new layer of paint. Otherwise, the paint won’t bond at all.

Assuming you are using high gloss paint, you will want to apply a second coat and potentially a third depending on what your coverage looks like. It’s important to allow each coat to dry for at least one day before applying a new coat.

Remember: If any paint splodges drip on the floor or wall, wipe it up immediately. You can use a damp cloth to remove any point before it has a chance to dry.

If your molding has intricate outlines, ensure you push the paint into the recessed or grooved areas. You can use a specialty paint guard to press against where the molding meets the wall or falls to stop any strokes landing beyond the baseboard.

Step 8: Remove Painter’s Tape

After the paint is dry, ensuring you have left each coat to try for one day, you can begin to remove the painter’s tape.

The temperature must be considered when removing the tape. It’s important to remove paint in moderate conditions, neither too cold nor too warm.

Chillier temperatures may cause the tape to become brittle, making it harder to peel off. Hotter temperatures may cause the tape’s stickiness to leave a gooey residue on the walls.

  • To prevent any cracks in the painter, using your putty knife, hold it flat against the wall and slip it underneath the tape. Gently run it along the edges to detach the tape from the paint. Be careful not to scrape the wall when removing the tape.
  • Remove the tape keeping roughly a 45-degree angle, keep a steady hand to reveal a neat line.

Alternatively You Can Paint Baseboards Without Painters Tape

This will take practice, however, be prepared to paint the floor or wall by mistake. Just have a wet rag handy to wipe away any mistakes!

Step 9: Clean Your Tools

Using soap and water, give your brushes and any other tools and equipment you plan to keep a thorough wash. If you take good care of your brushes and are of good quality, they can last many years.

How to Paint Baseboards With Carpet:

When it comes to answering how to paint baseboards with carpet, the same rules apply to the primer and paint application. However, there are differences in how you stick down your painter’s tape to prevent any paint touch your carpet.

Keep reading below to discover the correct way to apply painter’s tape along the edges of your carpets.

Tools:

  • Painter’s or Packing Tape
  • Putty Knife
  • Plastic Sheet or Drop Cloth

Step 1: Apply Painter’s Tape

Apply your painter’s or packing tape beside the whole length of the carpet underneath the baseboards you are planning to paint. You’ll need to leave about 1-inch of the tape overlapping the baseboards- so you can tuck it underneath.

Key Insight: Consider swapping your painter’s tape for packing tape if you find it not adhering to the carpet well. You don’t want the tape to fold over or furl up.

Step 2: With your Putty Knife, Press Down on your Tape

Now that your tape is running along the edge of the carpet and is slightly overlapping the baseboards, you can take your putty knife and press gently on the tape to tuck it underneath the bottom of the trim or baseboard.

Completing the step correctly will make sure the border of your carpet is preserved and protected from any paint splatters or if your paintbrush touches the floor.

Press the tape down along the entire area of the baseboard that you plan to paint and make sure it’s secured.

Step 3: Place Down and Secure a Plastic Sheet or Drop Cloth

Once you are happy that your tape is in place and secured, you can now put down a plastic sheet or drop cloth covering your carpet.

You may think it’s unnecessary to cover the whole area, as you are only painting the baseboards, but it will reduce the chance of any accidental splodges of paint and drips from touching or staining your carpets.

How To Remove Paint from Baseboards

a man and woman painting the room. man is painting the wall and woman is painting baseboards
Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

It’s natural for mistakes to happen when completing a DIY paint task but knowing how to correctly get rid of mishaps to restore your paint project’s immaculate finish is an important skill.

Having splodges of paint or drips of paint on your baseboards can give it an unprofessional look, and they stand out like a sore thumb.

Luckily, drips and spills are easy to fix when the paint is wet, but if you miss your chance and the paint dries, it’s a little harder to remove, but it’s still possible.

To complete this job, at hand you’ll need a putty knife, a utility knife, a cloth, and 220-grit sandpaper.

Step 1:

Put the putty knife up against the baseboard where you notice a drip or spill that you want to remove.

Position the putty knife at approximately a 45-degree angle to keep the flat part of the blade from scraping the paint away.

Step 2:

With the edge of the knife, push against the baseboard to pop off the unwanted paint splatters.

Do this carefully to ensure you do not gouge the baseboard with the knife as you remove any drips. Work from top to bottom when scraping away paint from your baseboards.  

Step 3:

Swap your putty knife with a utility knife to remove any paint from any sections that are hard to reach, like the corners.

Step 4:

Using a fresh sheet of 220-grit sandpaper, lightly sand the baseboard to remove any stubborn traces of paint.

Step 5:

Using a damp cloth, wipe the baseboard to remove any residue from the paint and any dust. If you have some denatured alcohol, this will help to ensure the trim is completely clean.

Step 6:

If you notice any blemishes or scratches on your baseboard from the removal process, touch them up using a paintbrush and the original paint you used.

If there are any marks on the baseboard,  you can use a stain marker to cover them up.

Allow 72-hours for the stain and paint to dry before you touch the surface.

We Hope Our Guide On: How To Paint Baseboards Has Helped You

Like so many other DIY home improvement projects, discovering how to paint baseboards isn’t a difficult challenge if you carefully follow the step-by-step guide.

It does not require any professional skills, but honing the simple skills such as patience, willingness to stay on task, perseverance, and dedicating time, will allow you to complete your project.

Remembering to fully prepare your baseboards including, cleaning, filling nicks and holes with spackle, and sanding to a smooth surface, contributes massively to the final look of your project- so be ready to spend some time on this stage.

If you are working in a carpeted room, picking out a top-tier painter’s tape is vital. If it does not adhere well to your carpet, you may risk paint spillages which may damage or stain your carpet.

Preparation is key to a professional finish. Deciding if you are going to: paint your walls and then your baseboards or plan to use a roller or an angled paintbrush will help you work efficiently and have a freshly painted room in no time.

If you’re not sure how often you should give your baseboards and walls a fresh coat of paint, check out our guide to find out how frequently you should paint your house.

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