Painting baseboards and trim around your house is one of the best ways to refresh a room and make it sparkle - use these tried-and-true tips to make it quick & easy!
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I love, love the look of crisp white trim and have invested a good amount of time adding trim (like around a doorway to create more character) and painting baseboards and trim in our ranch-turned-cottage.
And as I've mentioned (probably quite a bit...) the trim in this house was originally brown - and a very dark brown at that.
There was so much brown - not only all the trim but also all the cabinets, all the wood ceilings, and the wood floor. Not exactly the light and bright space I craved in our often gray-and-rainy western Oregon location.
So everything got a couple coats of white paint, except for the floor and some key areas like our half-wall ledge and countertops.
But - and maybe you know where I'm going with this - there is a drawback to white trim (that is totally worth it, in my opinion):
It gets dinged up and can look pretty dingy after a few years.
Our vacuum leaves marks, moving furniture leaves marks - I don't know what else does it...people's shoes? Anyway, after awhile you may notice it looking something like this:
Not terrible, but not so great. Especially because I know how clean and bright it makes everything look (like the whole room!) when freshly painted.
In the 12 years we've been in this home, I've touched up the baseboards and trim at least once, and probably twice in our most trafficked areas.
But it needed it again and before we put our cottage on the market I wanted to do a quick touch-up by painting the baseboards and any trim that needed it since I know how it can make a room sparkle. That's always a good impression, right?
And while I've written in the past about painting without taping, I knew in this case the easiest way was going to be using a quality painter's tape.
Why? Because we don't have any usable wall paint left for most of the rooms and I needed to make sure there were no mistakes and that the walls and floors stayed clean.
Tips For Painting Baseboards and Trim
When I do have to use tape (which, like I've said isn't often) I usually go with FrogTape® brand painter’s tape because I know it will give me those crisp lines that I love.
FrogTape® comes in two versions:
- A yellow "Delicate Surface" version (which has a low adhesion and can leave on surfaces for up to 60 days)
- The original Multi-Surface green tape
For touching up our trim, I used the yellow tape for the walls and the green tape for the floors - when you don't have access to the original paint, you want to make sure nothing gets pulled off!
In addition to the tape, you'll need:
- A small, narrow, angled brush - I like 1-inch best, but 1-1/2-inche works, too (the key is the angled brush- it makes painting trim a LOT easier).
- Trim paint - I recommend a semi-gloss for trim (or even high gloss if you'd like). The trim paint we used throughout the cottage is Behr's Premium Plus Semi Gloss in 'Creamy White.'
- A small rag for any drips that may happen.
- Newspapers, piece of cardboard or large towel rag - I set the painting supplies on this and just pull a corner to pull it along the floor with me as I move.
Painting Tips For Trim
1. Clean your baseboards and trim
If yours are anything like mine, you'll need more than a dusting, so use a slightly wet rag or a foam eraser to get them really clean. Your paint will thank you.
2. Apply tape to wall
Use your tape on the wall and seal the edges where the paint will touch with a fingernail or credit card.
You can see in the photo above that our walls have a slight texture and the yellow tape worked perfectly after I sealed the edge.
3. Apply tape to floor
You can use just one kind of tape for both walls and floor (I would choose the Delicate, though, to protect the walls), but since I had the Multi-Surface tape I used that for the floor.
Again, make sure to seal the edge that you will paint against with your fingernail or a credit card.
PRO TIP 1: To apply tape around trim pieces that aren't straight, simply tear small pieces and fit around trim (shown above) - it's a quick tip that's especially good for touch-up painting, since you don't need to paint all the way to the floor, just protect the floor.
PRO TIP 2: To make trim and touch-up painting as easy as possible, keep your trim paint in a small, labeled jar that's easy to grab when you need. Then when using the paint in the jar, make sure to press your brush on the top sides, not on the very top of the jar (you can see above where I wiped my brush), and you will always keep your lid clean for easy-on, easy-off.
BONUS TIP: The lid is a great place to rest your brush when painting too!
4. Paint baseboards and trim
Use one coat for touch-ups and two if painting a new color.
Use the angle part of the brush for the sides and tops of the trim, and the flat part for the rest.
5. Remove tape while it's still wet
Pull at an angle for the best results - and if you're anything like me you will get a little thrill at seeing those clean surfaces and crisp edges!
PRO TIP 3: Roll the tape with wet paint inside as much as possible and keep a piece of newspaper nearby to roll the tape onto (and use the rag for any that gets on your hands). When you've filled the paper, simply roll it up with the wet tape inside and throw away. It minimizes the mess and there's no wet paint in your trash can.
6. Enjoy your sparkling trim and refreshed room
I'm happy to report that all of the wall paint stayed put and the trim looks so clean and fresh, it made me remember why I love white trim so much.
It took about an hour and a half to do this whole room, but it was a fairly large room. I think for a typical 12x12 bedroom, for example, you could get the trim and baseboards touched up in an hour.
Of course that totally depends on the amount and type of trim you have. We have a LOT more trim in our 1900 farmhouse so it does take a bit longer. Again, totally worth to me!
Do you have trim painting tips to share?
This article has been updated- it was originally published in June of 2016.Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read our full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.