Painting baseboards or trim in your home neatly is challenging enough, but doubly so if the carpet is already installed. What's more, the thicker the carpet, the more difficult it will be to adequately protect your floors from paint drips and splatters.
In this guide, you'll learn exactly how to paint your baseboards or trim without ruining your carpet to achieve a professional-looking result.
Baseboards serve two primary functions:
While trim can include baseboards, it simply means all those similar finishing elements in your home, such as panel molding or door and window casings. In other words, all baseboards are trim, but not all trim elements are baseboards.
Carpet trim provides a clean and smooth transition between different flooring types and can also be combined with basic baseboards where your carpet meets the wall. This helps prevent fraying at the carpet's edge.
How To Paint Baseboards With Carpet Installed (Tips & Hacks
Alternatives to Painter’s Tape when Painting Baseboards
If you have a heavy-pile rug that just won’t stay down, swapping out painter’s tape in favor of a carpet shield can provide the same protection while you paint your baseboards. A carpet shield, sometimes known as a paint guide or paint shield, is a broad and flat tool to achieve precise lines.
To use a shield, simply push down the carpet and tuck the edge of the shield underneath the baseboard.
Using a Sprayer to Paint Your Baseboards Instead of a Brush
For a more flawless and even finish, you might opt to spray your baseboards. A paint sprayer is a valuable time-saver and will help achieve a professional paint job while keeping your carpets protected.
To use a sprayer, prepare the area exactly as you would when using a brush. Clean and sand the baseboards, then use painter’s tape or a guard to protect the walls and carpet.
When spraying your baseboards, you’ll move from one end of the baseboard to the other in one direction without stopping. This means your entire carpet edge for that area will need to be masked or guarded; you can’t pause and move the guards as you go.
How To Paint Trim With Carpet
Many homeowners with carpeted stairways dread painting that trim, but the good news is that the process doesn’t differ much from normal rooms.
Supplies Needed to Paint Carpeted Stairwell Trim
Step-by-Step Guide to Paint Stairs Trim with Carpet
- 1Clean the trim thoroughly. Sand it well in any uneven or rough patches. If needed, fill gaps or nail holes, as well.
- 2Vacuum the stairs, paying close attention to where the trim meets the carpet.
- 3Press painter’s tape to the edge of the carpet, using a putty knife to wedge it underneath the trim. Unlike a regular room, smaller pieces of tape might be necessary to adhere to the stairs’ shape.
- 4Lay down your drop cloth. You might want to tuck it under the trim, where the tape was wedged.
- 5Apply primer, if necessary, especially if you filled gaps or nail holes with putty.
- 6Begin painting. An angled brush will help you apply even brushstrokes to the trim of your stairwell while also maintaining a smooth look as you navigate corners and angles.
- 7Apply a second coat, if needed, after the first has dried.
- 8When the paint is dry, remove your painter's tape and drop cloth—fluff carpet along the stairs.
How to Paint Other Types of Trim while Protecting Carpet
Elements like window casings or crown molding don’t require any special precautions. Simply tape down a drop cloth over your carpet to catch spills or splatters, the same way you’d protect a hardwood floor.
When painting door casings or quarter-rounds on baseboards, tape down or shield the carpet first, wedging the shield or tape down below the trim.
Door casings often have a small gap where they meet the floor, but quarter-rounds are specifically designed to hide that gap below the baseboards. This means you’ll need to really press down to wedge your tape or guard in properly and protect your carpet.
Some people have better luck using a paint shield to paint these areas, because you can apply more pressure than tape alone.
Painting Baseboards & Carpets With Trim FAQs
Do you paint walls or baseboards first?
The order in which you paint your walls or baseboards, as well as the trim and the walls largely depends on your personal preference. One factor to consider is how much traffic that room will see: is it under renovation?
Will furniture or fixtures be moved in and out frequently? If so, paint the trim first; the walls will be subjected to scuffs and kicks until the renovation is complete, anyway.
Do I need to sand baseboards before repainting?
It's usually preferable to sand your baseboards before you repaint them so that your paint goes on smoothly and evenly.
What is the easiest/fastest way to paint baseboards?
The fastest way to paint any surface, including baseboards with or without carpet installed, is by using a sprayer. Painting with a sprayer ensures even coats and cuts down painting time dramatically.
Can you use a roller to paint your baseboards?
Provided your baseboards and trim are not very ornate, a roller is a great way to evenly and quickly paint those areas. Choose a smaller roller size than you’d use for a wall, and watch for drips near the roller’s edge when it gets close to your carpet.
How do you fill the gap between carpet and baseboards?
To fix a too-large gap between your baseboards and carpet, you have a few options:
Painting baseboards and trim when you already have carpet installed requires some extra steps and patience to protect your floors but can certainly be achieved even if you're a painting novice.
There's no need to be intimidated by baseboard and trim in carpeted areas, and the resulting clean lines and professional look can freshen up any room for years to come.