Painting Baseboards: The Best Strategy in 4 Simple Steps!

¬†If you stumbled upon this article, you’re probably looking to painting your baseboards. We get asked from clients all the time: “How do you manage to get your cut-in lines so perfect!?”. The truth is: we cheat ūüôā

 Preparing Your Baseboards For Painting

Before you begin, you’ll want to gather all materials and have them easily accessible. We’ve compiled a list of items you’ll need for painting your baseboards.

-sanding paper/sanding blocks (for normal baseboards, use 100 grit)

-painter’s tape (the number of rolls you will need depends on the size of your room. we like this 3-pack of ScotchBlue Multi-surface Painter’s Tape.)

-1 tube of paintable caulk (We use Sherwin Williams 850A Acrylic Latex Caulk)

-paint brush (we like this 2″ Purdy Pro-Extra Glide)

-4″ mini frame & roller¬†(we like this Purdy Frame and¬†Ultra Finish Jumbo Mini Roller)

-Bucket (we like Purdy’s Painter’s Pail)


-trash bag for cleanup


The “Tape & Caulk” Method

If we only cut-in freehand, our lines would never be as¬†consistently crisp & clean¬†as they are with our caulk & tape method. We hear “pros” in our industry all the time say how they only cut in by hand. They say that taping up is a waste of money and time. We’re here to tell you…they’re wrong.¬†We’re all human and imperfect beings. So to think we could paint trim perfectly first try every time is insane. Especially when you’re painting a 3,000 square foot house and you’ve got rooms of door frames, window sills and crown molding.

We have a fool proof method for you that is guaranteed to leave your house with the sharpest lines on the block. By no means in this something we invented but it’s something we’ve taken the time to master.

Step one: tape up!

This part is important. You want to make sure the lines you create with your tape are precisely where you need them to be. If you’re painting baseboards, take your tape and place it where the bottom of your wall ends meets the top of your trim. You want to make sure all of the baseboard is exposed so that it can be properly painted.¬†

Start in any given corner of the room and work clockwise. We usually start nearest to a door frame. Take your tape and unroll a little excess. Facing the wall, place the beginning of the first piece in the corner and gently apply pressure with your left hand to keep it in place. With your right hand, hold and slowly pull the full tape roll and unravel between 6″-12″. Now, use your left hand to smooth the tape onto the wall to create your lines. Keep working your way down the baseboards until you finish the entire room. This works for door frames as well so if you end up painting those, follow the same steps.¬†It takes a bit to get the taping technique down but once you do, you’ll be able to finish a standard sized room of baseboards in under 30 minutes.

Step two: caulk!

Using a caulking gun, load your paintable caulk and cut the tip at a 45 degree angle. This allows the caulk to properly reach the space where the tape meets the trim. Once that’s ready, start in the same corner as you did when you taped up. I personally like to work counterclockwise here but you can do whatever you feel comfortable with.¬† Place the tip of the caulking gun into the corner. Now¬†*lightly* pull the trigger to release a very thin bead of caulking against the tape line. Slowly walk forwards or backwards (depending on which way you go through this time) and apply throughout. Don’t leave excessive amounts in any one place. Your goal is to see one consistent, thin bead of caulk. Next, take a damp (not wet or soaking, just slightly damp) rag and remove the excess. Keep in mind: you don’t need to get all wipe crazy! Just one thorough wipe for each wall once will do the trick. Go back through to make sure you didn’t miss anything. The end result is a thin bead of caulk at the edge of the tape. This acts as a barrier and is what allows for a perfect line without bleeding.

Step three: painting the baseboards!

The fun part! Take your paint of choice and get ready to transform that trim. Start by cutting in the tops and bottoms of your baseboards with a 2″ angle brush. Don’t be shy here! Use plenty of paint but try to keep your brush handle and your hands clean. This will allow for easiest cleanup later. Once you cut everything in, take your mini roller and back roll the baseboards. Once again, don’t be shy! The baseboards are okay to use plenty of paint, just spread it out evenly. When in doubt, spread it out! You can always go back for more coats later. Using the roll isn’t required but it helps to reduce the appearance of unsightly, uneven brush marks. Allow time to dry. Feel free to do this twice or even three times depending on the stage of your baseboards.

Step four: pull!

It’s not how¬†you¬†start, it’s how you finish! Don’t let the caulk dry too long before pulling. As soon as you’re done painting, go back through and pull the tape. Starting from the first corner you painted, slowly pull the tape up and away from the trim. Be careful because the tape will often still be wet and can easily transfer to hands, walls and furniture. Have a trash bag (a box is even better) to put the tape in to keep your workspace clean. I prefer a box because a bag is too tricky to fit the tape into while wet. The tape will sticking to the bag and make it impossible for you to keep your hands clean. A box is easy because I throw it in there, allow it to dry and then ball it up into a trash bag later once i’m finished painting.¬†


This works for all trim. Windows, crown moulding, door frames, etc.

Did you try this method?

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