How to Paint Baseboards Like a Pro

10 Materials
4 Hours

I've been on another painting kick this week and just got done painting some walls not too long ago, I thought I would write another painting post! Maybe you got the painting bug and have been itching to paint everything?! One thing I always like to do when I am painting a room is to also repaint my baseboards. I am no painting expert, and I admit painting baseboards is not really all that fun, but I would rather do it a little at a time when I am working on a project in a certain room rather than all at once. So in this post I am going to give you my tips and have you painting baseboards like a pro!

After watching a ton of YouTube videos and reading too many articles to count, I found a technique that I think works really well. It ended up not being so terrible and went a lot quicker than I expected.

Here are the supplies I used for this project:(affiliate links)

  • Paint-N-Patch Lightweight Spackling
  • DAP Caulk – I made sure to get the one that was made for trim, was white, and paintable
  • Caulk Gun
  • 3M Sanding Sponge
  • Premium Paint in Semi-Gloss – I used Sherwin Williams Alabaster
  • Wooster Angled Shortcut Brush
  • Old rag

Step 1: Wipe Down Baseboards

So I admit I am HORRIBLE at cleaning off and dusting my baseboards on the regular, so I had a lot of cleaning to do here. If you are one of the good one that keeps your baseboards clean all the time (hand-clap for you)! You can skip to the next step!

Step 2: Caulk and Patch

Before you can start painting you need to make sure to patch up any little holes you have on your baseboards to make sure they are smooth for painting. Even though my baseboards were filthy, I was lucky and didn’t have many holes to patch up (whew)! After you have patched you will need to start caulking to fill in any cracks between the baseboards and the wall to give you a nice smooth professional finish. One tip is to make sure when you cut open your caulk you cut it at an angle. This will help your caulk get pushed into those cracks. Don’t go crazy on the cutting here, if you cut too much A LOT of caulk will come out and you will have a mess.

After you have your cut, then load up your caulk gun and start caulking. Start with the tip on top, pull the lever slowly and move it along the crease where the baseboard meets the wall (on top of the crack you are trying to fill). You will want to do this in small sections because you will need to wipe off the excess before it dries. This stuff dries pretty quick and after it dries you will have to chip it off (which won’t be fun).

Next take your damp rag and wipe off the excess with your finger along the top of the baseboard. This will also help push the caulk into the crack. There will be a lot of excess, but you should see that the crack is no longer there.

It takes about 30 minutes for the caulk to fully dry so go take a well deserved break, maybe enjoy some coffee….you have made it this far!

Step 3: Sand them down

After all the patching you will want to make sure your baseboards are smooth and clear of bumps. Patching sometimes can make them bumpy and you will be able to see it through the paint if you don’t sand it down. Take your 3M sanding sponge and sand down any bumps before painting.

Step 4: Tape & Drape

This was the first time I have used this stuff and I am hooked! I didn’t have to bring out my big drop cloth, I could just roll this out and tape off my floors and cover them at the same time. How had I not heard of this before?!

Step 5: Paint

Something else I didn’t know until a few years ago was that you needed a different kind of paint for baseboards and trim. The paint you use on your walls is usually a satin or flat, but paint for baseboards & trim needs to be a premium semi-gloss paint. I don’t know all the science behind why (again no expert), that’s just how it is!

Give your paint a good stirring to mix it up really good, pour some into your HANDy Paint Pail and you’re ready to start painting.

To make this even easier, they make this thing called a painters shield (I don’t know if that is the technical term, but works for me), get one! This in combo with the tape & drape really made me not have to worry if I was going to get paint on the wall or the floor. Put up the shield and get to painting.

*One tip make sure to keep the shield cleaned off to make sure paint doesn’t transfer to your wall.

After 1 or 2 coats let it dry, and you have baseboards that look like new! Look at the difference this made already? In combination with the newly painted walls it made the room look cleaner and brighter.

I recommend touching up your baseboards anytime you are in the process of updating or renovating a room. It makes it seem like less of a chore if you do it a little at a time versus all at once. You will have no problems now that you are painting baseboards like a pro!

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Holly Conway

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 17 questions
  • Masper
    on Nov 18, 2018

    Oil based on baseboards. Can I use the semiglosss over it? The oil does not seem very durable. That is what our builder used. Thank you.

    • Roz
      on Aug 25, 2019

      Water based paint won't stick to oil base paint, what I do is prime oil based trim with a primer called STIK this covers very well and adhere's to the oil base paint, then you can paint with water based paint. Of coarse to all of your repairs and caulking first.

  • Tresa
    on Aug 24, 2019

    I did this in a former house and it looked great . . . until the caulking yellowed! Any idea why that happened and how to prevent it next time?

  • Lisa
    on Aug 25, 2019

    What paint color is on the wall?

    • Cat
      on Nov 29, 2019

      two things i need to get before i resume painting! the cloth/tape thing and the paint shield! thank you!

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