How To Paint Trim Near Carpet? (5-Step Guide)

Last Updated On September 15, 2023

Any professional painter will tell you that painting trim near carpeting is one of the most intimidating aspects of painting they encounter. 

But if you're a DIY kind of person, you can quickly learn how to paint trim near carpet almost as good as the pros...and save a lot of money.  

In this guide, we're going to show you:

how to paint trim near carpet
  • A step-by-step, painless DIY process
  • How to limit your mess and expedite the clean-up
  • All the painting project materials you'll need

So, before you paint trim near carpet, be sure to read...

What You Need To Know About Painting Trim Near Carpet

You might think it's just a simple panting project and in most ways, you'd be right. There are, however, some subtle things that you should know  before you get started.

The first thing you need to do when getting started on your painting project is to understand the space you're working in. For example, there are many types of carpet. Do you have a heavy pile or a Berber? This could impact the type of tape you use. 

The next thing would be the type of trim or baseboards. Some rooms have what's known as mopboard which is different from a standard baseboard in that it's made out of vinyl.

When it comes to painting baseboards, most trim is made of wood. There are, however, other new things such as PVC trim which is basically plastic and vinyl mopboard. Painting unpainted or pre-primed wood is much easier to paint than vinyl or PVC trim.

Supplies You’ll Need For Painting Trim Near Carpet

Here's a list of the things you're going to need for your painting project:

  • paintbrush
  • foam brush
  • painter's roller pad with wheels
  • painter's tape (I recommend "Frog Tape")
  • Masking tape
  • plastic or cloth drop cloth
  • putty knife
  • fine sandpaper
  • nail hole filler
  • paint shield
  • trim painting tool
  • painters' rags
  • latex paint

How To Paint Trim Near Carpet: 5-Step Guide

  1. Sand and clean your baseboards
  2. Tape your baseboards and carpeting this way
  3. Choose the best type of brush
  4. Load your brush with paint
  5. Paint the baseboard like this...

Step 1: Sand and clean your baseboards

Use a common non-toxic cleaning solution to clean the surfaces of your baseboards.

Sanding may or may not be necessary before you paint. If there are any rough areas, you could use standard grit sandpaper to smooth them down. I'd recommend a 280-320 grit sandpaper.

Next, vacuum the carpet all around the room where the trim meets the floor to remove dust, dirt and fuzz balls after sanding. Dust and debris on the carpet will get electrostatically charged and literally jump onto your fresh paint!

Step 2: Tape your baseboards and carpeting

Peel off a few feet of the painter's tape at a time so that you can easily manage it without making a big tangled mess. I'd recommend at least a 2" wide roll or maybe even 3" inches wide just in case.

While holding one end of the tape in one hand, target the first area you want to cover on your baseboard trim. 

Align the edge of the tape against the trim and then push it down into the carpet with a wide putty knife. Make sure the tape fully covers the edge of the carpet, but don't necessarily worry about exposing the bottom of the baseboard. That's because once you finish painting and remove the tape, the carpet will rise again and hide the bottom of the baseboard.

Most good quality painter's tape is designed to be sticky but not too sticky. I recommend a brand called Frog Tape

I also highly recommend a drop cloth or painters cloth just in case a few drops of paint fall off or you accidentally knock your paint cup or can over while moving around. Of course, rags are a must-have as well.

As an alternative to tape, you could save a lot of time and use a painter's trim guard which you to push to the floor and glide the brush along the edge without using tape. You must be careful, however, as the paint will drip off the edge once it begins to accumulate on the guard.

angle sash paint brush (2)

Step 3: Choose the best type of brush

When you're ready to paint, use a brush that feels comfortable in your hand and allows you good control with your fingers. A standard nylon bristle will suffice. 

There are also other tools that work well such as a plastic pad that glides smoothly along the surface. These pads have wheels that allow the pad to glide along the edges of the joints between drywall and trim in most cases.

Many people are also just as comfortable using a foam brush. In some cases, a foam brush is easier to use for those who haven't painted before and are not comfortable with a nylon bristle brush. 

And a cheap foam brush can be thrown in the trash when you're done, thus saving you the hassle of clean up.

You don't want to use a brush that is too big and bulky and prevents smooth strokes as you apply the paint to the baseboards. A medium 2-3" nylon or foam brush is more than adequate for the job. 

A cutting brush, also known as an angle sash brush, is the preferred tool for this job as it allows you to bend the brush into the strokes for best coverage and control of the paint as it glides along. A 2 1/2" sash is my go-to brush.

Step 4: Load your brush with paint

Now it's time to load your brush or roller pad with paint. 

Dip your brush into the paint cup or can and wipe off the excess paint on one side only. Be careful not to have too much paint as it will drip off and make a mess.

This step is perhaps one of the most challenging when it comes to painting as too much paint will drip and not enough will cause you to use more elbow grease. 

I like to push my brush straight in and then clean the side off that is the opposite of the direction I plan to paint.

For example, if you're right-handed and you're going to stroke the paintbrush left to right, then you would clean the paint off the side closest to you with the paint on the side facing away from you. 

Step 5: Paint the baseboard

Now gently apply the brush to the surface of the baseboard and slide it smoothly in one action from left to right (or right to left if you are left-handed.) As you glide the brush, you can twist it at an angle and watch the paint flow off the end. 

You will quickly see that the coverage depends on how much pressure you apply to the brush as well as the angle of your application of each stroke.

Start by "cutting in" where the trim meets the drywall. This is a tricky step as you don't want too much trim paint to get on the drywall. Use long, slow strokes while controlling your breathing to steady your hand.

A clean line between the trim and drywall is the goal, and long steady brush strokes are the best way to achieve that goal. 

Next, paint the bottom edge of the baseboard trim by pushing the brush into the crevice between the tape and the baseboard. 

Then, finish that section of baseboard with one or two long, quick strokes across the middle of the baseboard.

And, remember, you can always wipe off excess paint and start over if you make a mistake. Just keep a dry cloth and a wet cloth handy for any clean-ups on the drywall. 

Depending on the brand name of the paint and the thickness of the blend, you might have to apply 1-2 coats of paint for good coverage. Most latex paints are of similar thickness and textures.

Obviously, if you're painting the baseboards and the drywall in the same colors but maybe flat on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim, any excess paint probably won't show up under the scrutiny of an inspector...the inspector being your spouse or parents, of course. 

Congratulations! You've just learned how to paint baseboard trim like a pro.

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Phil Ash

Phil Ash

After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

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Phil Ash

Phil Ash

After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

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