How to Paint Baseboards With Carpet? [7 Steps]

Whether you're renovating, moving into a new home, or have just decided that it's time to repaint one of the rooms, you may be wondering how to go about it when there is wall-to-wall carpeting on the floor, assuming you plan to leave the baseboards on while you paint them. Well, we've done a bit of digging and have found the answer for you.

Here are the steps to painting a baseboard in a carpeted room:

  1. Cover the Carpet
  2. Apply the Carpenter's Tape
  3. Use A Putty Knife To Press The Tape Down
  4. Apply The Primer
  5. Sand The Trim
  6. Paint the Trim
  7. Peel the Tape Off

Now, let's take a closer look at each of these steps.

Domestic room prepped with protective paper and blue tape ready for painting wall and baseboards, How to Paint Baseboards With Carpet? [7 Steps]

Steps to Painting Baseboards with Carpet

The biggest challenge of painting a room with wall-to-wall carpeting is painting the baseboard trim without getting paint on the carpet. There is an easy way to do this without having to pull the carpet back every few feet as you paint the trim. Here's how.

Tools you'll need:

  • Painter's tape
  • A paint stick
  • A damp sponge
  • A paint tray
  • Interior latex paint
  • Spackle
  • Interior wall primer
  • Sandpaper (80-grit, 100-grit, 130-grit)
  • Putty knife
  • Angled paint brushes

Step 1. Cover the Carpet

First, lay your drop cloths on the floor so that they completely cover perimeter the perimeter of the room. A couple of protective materials that you can use if you don't have dropcloths include plastic sheeting or old bedsheets.

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Step 2. Apply the Painter's Tape

Next, place your painter's tape between the baseboard and the carpet (90% of its surface should lay on the carpet). To do this, you need to do to use sticky glue masking tape that will adhere to the carpet, not light masking tape that will easily peel off--you want to make sure that it doesn't move. Leave about a quarter-inch of tape beyond the edge of the carpet (at the top) so that it overlaps onto the baseboard.

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Step 3. Use A Putty Knife To Press The Tape Down

Now take your putty knife and starting at one corner of the room, began to push the tape down so that it is wedged between the baseboard and the carpet. Next, run your hand over the painter's tape to make sure that it is stuck to the carpet. Now, you're ready to prime.

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Step 4. Apply The Primer

Starting in the corner, apply your primer to the trim with your angled brush (use short horizontal strokes). It's best to only work on no more than 2 or 3 ft at a time. Also, be sure to cover all spackled and unpainted areas on the baseboard. Then, give the primer anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to dry (check the recommendations on the can to make sure that you allow for the correct amount of drying time)

Quick Tip: To avoid paint drips (and to save your primer), pour only a small amount of paint into the tray. Next, when you dip your angled brush in, try to cover no more than an inch of it with the primer. You can also wipe off any excess on the side of the tray.

Check out this interior primer on Amazon!

Step 5. Sand The Trim

Once the primer has dried and is ready to go, take your 120-grit sandpaper and lightly brush it over the trim. Be sure to start in the same corner in which you started the primer application. This helps to get rid of any paint drips or brush strokes. If there is any sanding dust, use your damp sponge to wipe it away.

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Step 6. Paint the Trim

Take a new angled brush (or the cleaned one that you used for the primer), and starting the same corner, apply the paint to the trim in short strokes. Once you've applied the first coat of paint to the trim, allow it to dry for anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours (again, be sure to check the back of the can for the approximate drying time). After it's dried, apply a second coat of paint to the trim, starting in the same corner. Repeat this until each wall of trim is painted with two or three coats of paint.

Quick Tip: It's best to use shorter brush strokes when applying paint to the trim, as it ensures thorough coverage. When applying the second coat of paint, use long smooth strokes (as opposed to short strokes) to create a smooth and finished look.

Step 7. Peel the Tape Off

Wants the last coat of paint has completely dried, carefully remove the carpenter's tape from all of the baseboards.

How Do You Prep Baseboards For Painting?

Painting baseboards can come with several additional tasks that need to be completed beforehand for the best results. Let's take a look at them.

Tools you'll need:

  • Eye protection and handyman gloves
  • Interior Paint
  • Sponge
  • Drop cloths
  • Putty knife
  • Angled paintbrush
  • Carpenter's tape
  • Sandpaper (80-grit, 100-grit, 120-grit)
  • Interior Primer

Now, let's look at how to get started.

Step 1. Clean the Boards

Take your damp sponge and wipe away any grime and dirt from the trim. Start in the corner next to the door and work to the right. You may need to re-dip the sponge a few times if the boards are especially dirty.

Step 2. Sand The Boards

Take one sheet of sandpaper and sand the trim until they are smooth. Start in the same corner as you did previously, and be sure to wipe away the dust with your damp sponge. If you come across any protruding nails, use a hammer to tack them back in. If they're bent, pull them out and replace them with new ones.

Quick Tip: The lower the grit number on the sandpaper, the coarser it will be. So if the wall is particularly worn or rough, start with the 80-grit paper, then move to the 100-grit or the 120-grit as it begins to smooth out. If it's already smooth, then just go over it lightly with the 120-grit paper. 

Check out these dust masks on Amazon.

Step 3. Fill Any Holes and Gaps

Take your putty knife and apply the wood putty to fill any holes, cracks, or dents in the baseboards. After the putty dries, take the 120-grit sandpaper and rub it over the surface to smooth out the putty, wiping away any dust.

Step 4. Apply Painter's Tape

Take a cloth or rag and dust off all of the walls above the trim, as this will ensure that the tape sticks firmly. Next, take your tape and place it between the floor and the trim (or the trim and the ceiling, if applicable). When applying the tape, it's best to use long strips as opposed to shorter pieces, as this will help to prevent paint from possibly bleeding in any gaps.

Quick Tip: Applying the painter's tape can be a bit tricky when doing it for the first time. The easiest way to apply it to trim is to pull out about 4 inches of tape and then press it firmly to the trim. Next, while holding the applied tape firmly on the trim, pull out about 5 to 7 inches of tape. Next, take your hand that's holding the tape at the "starting point" and run it along the length of the tape to press it firmly against the trim.

Step 5. Go Over Tape with Putty Knife

After you have applied the painter's tape to all of these baseboards, go back over them with your putty knife to ensure that the tape is sticking firmly to the boards and that there are no areas where the paint can bleed through.

After you have applied the tape, run over it again with your putty knife to ensure adhesion.

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Should Carpet Be Cleaned Before Or After Painting?

Determining whether you should install a carpet before painting or vice versa can be a tough call. However, cleaning your carpet first would generally be a better option, here's why.

If you decide to clean your carpet before painting the room, the carpet cleaners (or you, if this is a DIY project) won't have to worry about scratching the paint on the walls or the trim. This means that you also don't have to worry about any possible touch-ups.

If you decide to paint before cleaning your carpet, sure, you run the risk of possibly getting paint on your new carpet. However, if you place your a drop cloth down there early and ensure that your floor is completely covered, then this actually wouldn't be an issue-- especially if you're working with professional painters. If this is a DIY job, you'll just want to make sure that you place painters tape between the trim and the floor to avoid painting the carpet (or wood floors), which would be a headache to clean up.

What Is The Best Tape To Use On Carpet? 

There is really only one type of tape that works best to seal carpets and that's carpet tape.

Carpet tape is a double-sided tape that is used to seal the seams of carpeting to the subfloor and is typically applied with a heat gun. It can come in a variety of widths, though the widest is probably one and a half inches. Carpenters tape can be purchased online or in any home improvement store for about $10.

Carpet padding tape is also commonly used on carpets as well. This double-sided tape works to and here carpets, repair patches, and/or rugs to the floor more securely. It's also double-sided and can be applied within a matter of minutes by simply cutting the tape and removing the paper backing on one side. It can also be purchased online for about $10 (or in any home improvement store).

Wrapping Things Up

Domestic room prepped with protective paper and blue tape ready for painting wall and baseboards

Hopefully, this post has helped you learn a bit more about how to paint and prep trim boards.

Interested in learning more about home painting? Be sure to check out our other posts:

How To Paint Or Stain Plywood Stairs? [4 Steps]

How To Paint Ceiling Fan Blades? [5 Simple Steps]

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