The Best Way to Go About Painting Baseboards

Painting Baseboards Can Refresh a Room in Days

Baseboards take more abuse in your home than you realize. Scuffs, chips, and other mishaps happen and before you know it, they can be the source of making your room look frumpy. And while the idea of painting baseboards probably isn’t the most appealing thing, it’s amazing how this can offer any room an instant facelift. And thankfully, it only takes a couple of days to get your this space looking fantastic again. You don’t want to get out an old paintbrush and an old can of paint and call it a day, though, as there is a method to the madness. We’ve gathered some tips on the best way to go about painting baseboards and shared them below.

Pick the Right Paint

Because baseboards are so prone to scuffing, it’s crucial to choose the right kind of paint. A semi-gloss or high-gloss paint is usually best, as it’s more resistant to scuffing and it’s also more washable than a flat paint. And while latex or oil-based paints are fine, the latex is usually preferred as it’s water-based and easier to clean. 

Decide Whether to Remove the Baseboards

It’s going to be much easier to paint a baseboard once it’s removed but if you live in an old home, this can be an arduous task due to many coats of previous paint making the removal more difficult than it’s worth. In newer homes, you’ll likely be able to use a simple pry bar to pry it away from the wall. And of course, if the baseboards haven’t been installed yet, make sure to paint them prior to installation. If you have to paint them while still attached, you need to be extra careful during the process. For the purpose of this article, as we move forward, we will assume you will be painting the baseboards while still attached.

Clean the Baseboards First

It can be tempting to skip this step but we highly recommend not doing that! Baseboards get dirtier than you realize from everyday life. Mix trisodium phosphate (TSP) with water according to the instructions on the TSP container (you’ll have to find another solution if you have open-pore wood baseboards). Wash with a sponge, paying particular attention to the top where dust tends to gather. 

Prep Using Masking is Key

Again, this can be another step that is tempting to skip in the name of saving time, but you’ll pay for it in imperfect results. We understand that some painters are skilled at freehand painting, but masking is actually relatively easy in this spot due to the flat edge on the top of baseboards, so take advantage of that. Place low-stick painter’s tape right above the baseboards at the junction with the wall. This isn’t fool-proof, however, as you’ll still need to be precise. If you use too much paint, the masking tape will be difficult to remove and could cause damage to your paint job. You should also consider patching any nail depressions or gouges with wood fillers as part of the prep process. Left unfilled, this will make any paint on these areas become a spotlight on these imperfections.

Add Primer First

As with any proper paint job, priming always comes first when painting baseboards. Even baseboards that have been previously primed can often benefit from a coat of primer. Thoroughly mix the primer, load the brush, and apply it using horizontal strokes. Remember – don’t overload it with primer to avoid dripping. As painting experts will tell you, it’s best to keep a “wet edge,” which means you should paint back over the edges of previously painted spots before the paint dries to prevent visibly obvious lap marks.

It’s Time to Paint

First and foremost, make sure your paint is freshly shaken. Many of the same principles from priming go into painting baseboards. Do not overload the brush with paint. In fact, you should err on the side of using less paint than you think for the first coat. And again, keep that wet edge to prevent lap marks. Long, smooth strokes along the length of the baseboards will ensure a stunning result. Let the first coat dry for a full day before applying the second coat…hence the two-day project. Then, wait for this second coat to dry before removing the painter’s tape to avoid pulling off any of your paint job. And it should go without saying that you should thoroughly clean your paintbrush to ensure you can use it again!

Painting baseboards isn’t reinventing the wheel, per se, but it’s also not the easiest home improvement project.If you’d like help from our experts to ensure the project is done right, reach out today!