How to Paint Baseboards and What Kind of Paint to Use
Do you want to paint your baseboards but have no idea where to start? This blog post will share everything you need to know about painting baseboards, what kind of paint to use, if you need to sand baseboards before painting, how to paint baseboards with carpet.
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4 paint tools to use that will save you hours of time:
Between our first house and now our second home we’re currently in, we have painted every single square inch of wood trim. From the window and door casings, to baseboards and even interior doors, we painted it all white. I’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way to make it easier and to make sure we have a durable, professional look.
Related Post: 6 Best White Paint Colors for Trim & Doors
4 Tools That Make Painting Faster and Easier
I wish I would have known about these tools when I first started painting trim in our last house because they would have saved HOURS of time and frustration!
Abrasive sandpaper hand pads. Trust me, you’ll want to skip the sandpaper and use these hand pads instead to sand baseboards before painting. They are so much easier than folding up sandpaper! You can use them on everything from roughing up baseboards and doors, to metal grates before spray painting, and even cleaning your shower and kitchen! They are great household items and you’ll use them up quickly.
This paint shield is so helpful when painting baseboards with carpet or any hard floors. It saves you the time of taping off your floors. Before we tried using a cardboard piece as a shield and it wasn’t sturdy or thin enough that it just made it more a pain. This paint shield is the way to go!
The cool edger tool makes trimming out walls so easy! You just run it along your base and you don’t have to be nearly as careful as when using a brush so you can work much faster. It even comes with a corner tool for walls!
Purdy paint brushes are the way to go 100%! They are a little more expensive than other brushes but it’ll make up for itself in the first use. They don’t shed bristles, high quality and the angled brush makes it easier to paint baseboards. Highly recommend!
What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Baseboards
You will definitely want to use a primer first on your baseboards. I use Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 when painting anything wood. It helps the paint adhere better and you get a smoother finish.
For paint, I use Sherwin William’s Emerald Interior Latex paint in Satin finish. Since our trim was older and wood and we have nail holes and other imperfections, satin finish hides it better than a semi gloss.
How to Paint Baseboards
The easiest and absolute best result for painting baseboards is to remove the baseboard from the wall first. To do this, gently use a metal pry bar and slide it between the wall and baseboard and gently pry it off. Do not use the wall as leverage or you will risk damaging the drywall. The baseboard should start to pop off. Once you get it started in one spot, it’s easier to keeping moving down and prying off the whole piece. Removing it obviously means no taping off, no edging, and no having to worry about getting paint on the floor. It’s also much quicker to paint when the baseboards are off and set up. I use a micro roller when painting them on platforms and it’s much quicker than a brush. If you are installing new flooring you will have to remove baseboards anyway so this is the perfect time to do it and paint them. After removing all the baseboards, mark on the back of each piece which number it is so you can remember the order when it comes time to reinstall. Remove all nails from the baseboards.
We removed all baseboards in the areas of the house that we put new flooring in (kitchen, bedrooms) and removed it in the basement living room because it had carpet. To me, the time it takes to remove the baseboard (it goes quickly in most cases) is well worth it to make painting easier and mess free. You still have to do all the hole filling and the caulking, it’s just in a different order.
Wipe down all woodwork with a damp cloth. If you have grime that water/vinegar won’t cut, use TSP. Dry it off with a clean cloth.
First you will want to fill any nail holes with putty. Nail holes aren’t visible on bare wood, but when painted white, you will see every single nail hole. I usually use my finger and spread just a small amount of putty in each hole. If you removed your baseboard from the walls, don’t fill the holes until after it’s painted and you reinstalled each piece to the wall.
Once the putty is dry in an hour or two, lightly sand off excess using the abrasive pad. You also want to use this time to rough up the baseboards a bit with the abrasive pad to give the primer something to stick to. Gently sand the trim and smooth out any nicks or dents. Clean up the dust with a vacuum.
Caulk all of the gaps where the baseboard meets the wall and in all corners of the trim for a cleaner look. I think this makes baseboards look professional because you can’t see any gaps. Just make sure to use a paintable caulk. This caulk is my favorite. This step will be done after painting and reinstalling the baseboards if you removed them from the wall.
Use painter’s tape along the bottom edge of the baseboard when painting hard floors. Use a putty knife to seal the tape so no paint will get on the floor. I use tape in combination with my paint shield on hard flooring surfaces. When painting carpet, lay down the drop cloth and just use your paint shield.
Start with your primer and paint all the baseboards. Let it completely dry, then follow with your paint. I did three coats of paint on all of our trim because I didn’t want any of the wood grain to show through.
If you removed your baseboards, now it’s time to reinstall them. We use a finish nailer
Once your paint has dried, it’s time to remove the painter’s tape. Use a utility knife to cut the painter’s tape edge between the trim so you don’t peel up any paint when removing the tape. This is the trickiest part for me and I’m still working on getting better at cutting the tape in the right spot so I don’t peel off the freshly painted paint.
If you are painting baseboards on carpet without removing the baseboards from the wall, know that it will not be perfect and a few carpet fibers will get paint on them and some carpet will dry stuck to the baseboard. Use the paint shield and hold it with one hand to to keep the carpet away from the baseboard as best as possible and slide down the wall as you go.
If you don’t finish painting your area in one day and you plan on painting the next day, you can wrap your paint brush in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge to prevent having to wash it if you are painting the next day. Don’t leave the brush in the fridge for more than a couple days or it will get hard and be difficult to clean.
When cleaning your Purdy brush, use this wire brush and comb through your paint brush with it. It will get rid of all the dried paint on your paint brush. It helps your brushes last much longer and you have a nice clean brush ready for you the next time you paint. Can’t go without it!
You can use an oil based paint on trim since it’s more durable and holds up to chipping, but it takes a lot longer to dry, clean up is more messy, and the fumes aren’t great for pets and kids.
At our old house, the baseboards that we removed, sanded and painted had ZERO chips on it after 4 years with a dog and lots of activity and vacuuming hitting the baseboards. The areas that were chipped were the window sills because our dog puts her paws up on them to look out.
If you follow these steps and gently sand them, use primer and a few coats of paint your baseboards will hold up to chipping for years.
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