How to Paint Baseboards 

Posted on: March 10th, 2021

Learning how to paint baseboards is simple but the actual application can be a very time-consuming and tedious task. You may spend hours of your precious time only to be disappointed with the finished product. There are 

some tried and true tips to help you learn how to paint baseboards and have them look like you paid a pro to do them. 

Recommended Materials 

  • Primer-Zinsser and KILZ will leave an extremely smooth finish. 
  • Abrasive Hand Pads-Use these in place of sandpaper which can tend to rub off too much of the varnish 
  • Paint-typically white, semi-gloss, or high gloss 
  • Paint Shield-A paint shield is a metal or plastic rectangle with handles along one of the long sides. This can be a lifesaver if you are painting baseboards over carpet
  • Paint Brush-Use a 3” angled trim brush for best results 
  • Painter’s Tape-Painter’s tape is super effective when working with hardwood floors, over plastic window inserts, or around the shower. This is a necessity to have around and will make every painting project easier to complete
  • Drop Cloth 
  • Damp Rags-You will want to keep a damp rag near you at all times to wipe off the excess paint left behind on the paint shield. It will also keep you from panicking when those unavoidable paint drips happen
  • Paint Cup-A paint cup isn’t absolutely necessary but if you’ve used one you know how much quicker your project can go. It has a magnetic paintbrush holder on the side which is a gamechanger when doing trim work.
  • Vinegar Cleaning Solution-This solution made up of ½ cup vinegar and 1 gallon of warm water is an excellent solution to wipe down your baseboards with. You’ll want baseboards clean from dust and dirt before painting

Steps for painting baseboards 

  1. Vacuum and wipe down baseboards with either the vinegar cleaning solution mentioned earlier or with another solution. You don’t want any grime, dirt, or lint left on them. Dry baseboards completely with a rag or cloth.
  1. Gently give your baseboards a light buffing, using an abrasive hand pad. Remember to be careful not to over-do it. If you have stained wood baseboards, sanding too much will have the stain bleed through. Rough them up just enough to give the primer something to adhere to. If you are repainting your baseboards, this is the time to buff out any small dents, marks, or peeling paint. 
  2. Wipe down the baseboards again with a clean cloth to remove any dust particles left behind from the sanding process. 
  3. If you will be painting baseboards on top of a hardwood floor, then this is the time to apply the painters’ tape along the quarter round. Make sure to carefully seal all edges so there isn’t any bleed-through of paint. Pull out your paint shield because it’s time for it to do its job. 
  4. Now, you will work with one hand on your paint shield, and the other hand on the paintbrush working your way around. Apply a coat of primer first, then two coats of your semi-gloss paint. Two coats may seem like overkill but you won’t regret putting in the extra time when you see how much more durable the extra coat makes them. It works best to tackle about three feet at a time until you have made it all the way around the room. 

How to paint baseboards with carpet 

Painting baseboards with carpet is tricky but definitely can be done. It is important to know going into it that it won’t be perfect. Some carpet fibers will get paint on them or get stuck to the wet baseboards. Here are some simple steps to follow: 

  1. Place your paint shield in between the baseboard and the carpet. Next, angle it so it pulls the carpet fibers away and leaves you with enough space to insert your paintbrush. 
  2. Paint with your 3” paintbrush 
  3. Continue step 1 as you slide your paint shield down the baseboards. Make sure to wipe the excess paint off your shield each time you move it to avoid leaving a trail of paint behind.

Commonly asked questions about painting baseboards: 

Do you paint baseboards or walls first? 

Pros usually follow a certain order when painting a room. They start by painting the trim first, then the ceilings, then the walls. It’s much faster and easier to tape off the trim than to tape off the walls. And nobody wants to tape both of them off! 

What paint to use on baseboards? 

White semi-gloss or high-gloss paint is usually the best choice for baseboards. These sheens are much easier to wipe down and are a harder finish which can offer more protection from scuffs and dents.

Can you paint baseboard heaters and air vents? 

Rather than painting your heaters and vents with the same paint as your baseboards, try removing them first. Find a good quality, white appliance spray paint that matches your trim and paint them individually. Make sure they dry completely before replacing them. 

How to remove paint from baseboards 

To get the best results when painting baseboards, it’s a good idea to remove chipped, cracked, or thick layers of old paint. 

Start by gently scraping off the dried paint. A paint stripping tool can help you with this. Next, use a damp rag over the dried paint. Hit the dried paint with a little heat using a heat gun. Try applying a solvent for any remaining paint. Finish off by sanding with a super fine-grit sandpaper and wipe clean with a damp cloth. 

How To Paint Baseboards Conclusion 

With all these tips and simple steps, painting your baseboards should be a far less daunting task than imagined. At PaintRite Pros we can offer helpful hints on virtually any painting project you may encounter. Our experienced staff can help answer any questions and guide you through every step of the way. If you are located in or around the Elk Grove-Sacramento area, give us a call today or schedule a free estimate for all your painting needs. We serve the entire area of Sacramento including El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Stockton, and more! We can also help you with all of your interior painting needs. 


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