Painting the baseboards in your home is one of the quickest and most affordable ways to update the space. For just the cost of a good primer and high-quality trim paint, you can breathe new life into your home. Whether you’re painting over outdated stains, painting newly installed baseboards, changing to a new paint color, or giving them a fresh coat of the same color, painting your baseboards is a project that will give that wow factor. And the good news is you can easily do it yourself!
How to paint baseboards
The correct order of painting a room like a pro, is to paint your baseboards after you've tackled the ceiling and the walls. Whether you're freshening up a dated room or, painting new baseboards to help them blend in with your decor scheme.
1. Select your color and gather tools
The color you choose when painting baseboards will be dependent on your taste of course, however, for a cohesive look throughout your home, try and choose a hue that's in-keeping with the color you have on the walls. Many people will go for white for a clean finish or gray for a neutral look. Darker colors will give a room more character but if you want a space that feels brighter and larger, go for a lighter shade.
A design trend that’s become popular in recent years is to paint walls a lighter shade like white or cream and paint trim, baseboards and cabinetry another shade like gray or beige. Still another trend is the monochromatic look where all the baseboards, trim, and walls are the same color. This look is especially popular with darker colors like green or charcoal.
Remember to consider the different types of paints for wood and finishes available also. When painting baseboards, you'll want to use high gloss for better light reflection as they add depth and are easier to clean, unlike if you choose matte paint.
Choose a high-quality trim paint, preferably an enamel that hardens over time for a lasting finish. Valspar’s Door and Trim Oil-Enriched Enamel (opens in new tab) available at Lowe's and lots of other stores also is a great choice for trim and baseboards.
You will need:
1. 2” (5cm) paint brush (make it synthetic if using a water-based paint)
2. Cleaning solution and sponge
3. Sandpaper (opens in new tab)
4. Primer like Valspar’s High-Hiding Primer (opens in new tab)
6. Baseboard paint of choice like Valspar’s Door and Trim Oil-Enriched Enamel (opens in new tab)
7. An edger (opens in new tab)
8. Dust sheet/cardboard
2. Protect your floors
If you’re painting baseboards that butt up against carpet you have a couple of different options for protecting the carpet from paint. A very effective option is to use an edger (opens in new tab). Place the edger down between the carpet and the baseboard at an angle so you can reach in with the paintbrush. Slide the edger down the wall painting the baseboards as you go.
You can of course use painter's tape if this isn't an option. In which case you should vacuum the carpet so there’s no dust or debris on it, use wide-set masking tape and apply it along the carpet‘s edge.
You can do the same with a dust sheet, fitting it as close to the baseboard as you can. Alternatively, slide a thin piece of cardboard under the baseboard and secure it with tape.
3. Sand down your baseboards
Some will skip this rule when painting baseboards but sanding before painting makes for more professional-looking results. Rub down the existing paintwork, using sandpaper along the grain of the wood, most of the time this means sanding in a horizontal direction. You'll then want to fill any holes or cracks, then allow them to dry before sanding them back so that the filler is level with the baseboard.
You may still be able to skip the sanding if your baseboards are in good shape and you use a high-quality primer like Valspar’s High-Hiding Primer (opens in new tab) before painting.
4. Clean your baseboards thoroughly
Vacuum thoroughly then use a damp cloth to remove every spec of sanding dust or dirt you can, cleaning your baseboards thoroughly. A sugar soap solution makes this easy.
5. Tape off the perimeter
Use a painting tape like Frog (opens in new tab) or Scotch blue painter’s tape (opens in new tab) to tape the wall just above the baseboard so you don’t get paint on the walls. If you have hard flooring you’ll want to tape them off, as well. You can also use the edging tool (opens in new tab) trick mentioned earlier for this instead, if preferred.
6. Paint on the primer
Again, some skip this step but we think it's crucial to a professional finish if you're painting baseboards yourself. Without overloading your brush, paint the top half of the baseboard in the direction of the grain.
Start at the door and make your way round the room, then repeat this to paint the remaining bottom half of your baseboards and the center. Let this dry thoroughly before you move on to the next step.
7. Start painting your baseboards
Paint the baseboard in the same direction you sanded it so that any paintbrush lines go in the direction of the wood grain. This will give you a neater, more professional-looking finish. Allow to dry and add another coat if needed.
8. Let them dry
This might take a few hours but it's really important to keep your painter's tape in place until the paint is entirely dry, to ensure clean lines when you come to remove it.
9. Remove the tape
When you have finished and the paint is completely dry, gently remove the tape from the carpet and walls. Or fold back the carpet, press down and tack it back into place.
10. Tidy up
Pile dust sheets in the washer, close and store any half-empty paint tins and ensure you clean paintbrushes straight away to increase their longevity and help them last until the next time.