Baseboards are a key component of a room. They protect your walls while adding to a room’s decor. If you are thinking of refreshing a room in your home, repainting the baseboards is a great way to start! However, undertaking a task like this can be daunting, and you may be wondering how to get started. Here is a guide to painting the baseboards in your home!

What Paint Should I Use?

There are two separate factors to consider when choosing paint for your baseboards: paint type and paint sheen. First we will discuss the type, or composition, of the paint itself. For painting baseboards, you can choose between oil-based and water-based paint.

Oil-based paint, also called alkyd paint, only requires one coat and will dry with a hard, glossy finish. It is the paint of choice for most professional painters. However, it takes 8 to 24 hours to fully dry, and the fumes from oil-based paints mean you will need to paint in a well-ventilated space. In some areas, environmental regulations are such that you can only purchase oil-based paint in quart sized containers or smaller.

If you choose to paint with oil-based paint, you will need to use a paintbrush with natural bristles. The compounds in this type of paint will react poorly with synthetic bristles. Make sure you paint in a space with excellent air flow, and keep children and pets away from the area until the baseboards are completely dry. With this type of paint, your brushstrokes are unlikely to show, so it is fairly easy to apply!

Water-based paint, also known as latex paint, will need several coats and may need to be touched up or cleaned more often than baseboards coated with oil-based paint. On the other hand, it is easier to apply and clean up than oil-based paint. It can be purchased in as large of quantities as needed, and there is a wider selection of colors available for latex paint. For these reasons, latex paint is typically used by homeowners for their DIY projects.

If water-based paint is the best option for your project, make sure you purchase enough baseboard paint to coat your baseboards with two or three coats. You can use paintbrushes with either natural or synthetic bristles, but take care to avoid leaving brush marks when painting.

The second factor to consider when choosing paint for baseboards is the sheen, or gloss, of paint. Paint comes in a variety of glosses that affect how shiny the paint looks when it is dry. There is a scale that goes from flat, which has no sheen whatsoever, to high gloss, which reflects the most light off the paint and thus looks very shiny. For baseboards, it’s best to choose a sheen right in the middle of the spectrum, such as semi-gloss.

Semi-gloss baseboard paint is a great choice for baseboards for several reasons. First, having a higher sheen on your baseboards makes them stand out! It provides a striking visual contrast to the more matte walls. Second, semi-gloss paint is one of the most durable paint sheens. It resists dirt, scuffs, and dust, which is a crucial component of baseboard paint. Third, it resists moisture, which will protect the wood of the baseboards from mold and mildew that may otherwise accumulate.

Of course, you will also have to choose a paint color for your baseboards. The classic color for baseboards is white or off-white. Lighter paint on baseboards makes them pop and stand out from the wall, and gives the whole room a luminescent and clean appearance. However, darker shades of paint have been growing in popularity lately. If you want your room to have a unique appearance, you can choose to paint your baseboards a darker shade of the color of the walls, or even black or dark brown paint!

How To Paint Baseboards

Now that you know what paint to use for your baseboards, it’s time to get started painting! There are six easy steps to paint your baseboards.

  • Clean the baseboards. You can use a mixture of warm water and soap to gently clean the wood. Simply wet the sponge with the cleaning solution, wring it out, and swipe the sponge along the baseboard. Wait for the baseboards to dry before moving on to the next step.
  • Patch any large holes or dents in the wood. If there are any inconsistencies in the wood, fill them with good-quality wood filler and a putty knife. Once the wood putty has dried, sand it down to match the rest of the wood.
  • Use painters tape to cover the wall above the baseboard, and the floor below it. Additionally, place a drop cloth over the floor to make sure you don’t get any paint drips on the carpet or wood floors.
  • Prime the baseboard wood. Mix the primer with a paint stick, then dip a paintbrush into the paint. Cover the baseboard completely with the primer, making sure to cover every part of the wood evenly. Wait for it to dry before applying paint!
  • Paint the baseboard. If you choose oil-based paint, you will only need to apply one coat of paint. However, if you decide to use water-based paint, it will require two or three coats. Regardless of the paint type, the paint application is the same: dip your paintbrush into the paint about a third of the way up the bristles, and wipe the excess paint on the edge of the paint can. Spread the paint on the baseboard in one long, smooth motion. When you begin a new stroke, overlap with the end of your previous one to avoid brush marks. If you need to paint more than one coat, wait for the first coat to dry before starting on the second one.
  • Wait for the baseboards to dry. Before removing the painters tape and drop cloth, make sure the baseboards are completely dry. If you use oil-based baseboard paint, it’s best to keep the area well-ventilated and free of pets and children while the paint dries.

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