Do‌ ‌You‌ ‌Paint‌ ‌Baseboards‌ ‌Before‌ ‌Installing?‌ ‌

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do you paint baseboards before installing

The time has come to paint your baseboards.

But if you’re worried about this project, we’re here to help. Whether you’re painting new baseboards or sprucing up the old ones that have been on your walls forever, the method for painting the trim is the same.

Tools You Need For Painting Baseboards

Before we start on this baseboard painting journey, you must make sure you have the proper materials to paint your baseboards.

This article assumes that you’re not going to buy your trim pre-painted, although that is an option if it sounds interesting to you.

But that’s not why you’re where, is it? You’re looking into the best way to go about painting and installing baseboards for your walls.

Installation Before Painting

Although most experts will tell you to paint the trim before you install them, some people who are go-getters who might be reading this article already know that. If so, this article will still offer you some helpful tips about baseboard painting.

If you’ve already installed the baseboards and now you need to paint them, some items will be helpful to have for your painting adventures.

Painter’s tape

Tape is particularly helpful for making sure that you don’t add unwanted paint to your walls or other items you’ve just painted. You will line the wall or other item with tape. Then, when you paint, even if you get paint on the tape, you can peel it off and erase your errors.

You’re trying to work on the trim, not paint the walls!

Drop cloth

This is the cloth that painters can lay on the floor to catch any paint that splatters off the wall or the trim. You don’t want this paint to get on your floors – no matter how new or old they are.

Baseboard paint or trim paint

This is a type of paint that tends to work best for baseboards. It typically comes in one of two forms: a water-based paint or an acrylic hybrid paint that gives off a semi-gloss sheen in certain lights.


Baseboards are long and thin. As such, it’s a good idea to choose a brush – or brushes – that will make it easy to paint the wood. No matter if you’re painting walls, pre-painted wood, or the flat side of a baseboard, choosing the proper brush will help you perform a professional painting job.


Caulk is very useful for projects that require installation or projects that use nails. You can use caulk to cover and fill nail holes or to hide any mistakes you make.

Making sure you have all of these materials prepared beforehand saves time and allows you to focus on what matters . . . painting and the eventual install of the trim.

Whether you’re painting baseboards or other baseboard-like objects (such as crown molding or wall trim), these painting items will serve you best.

Installing Baseboards After Painting Them

As mentioned, most people will tell you to paint the baseboards before you install them. Not only will it make it easier on you when it comes to painting and installation, but it’s also easier to clean up!

Painting before installing also gives you more flexibility when you paint, and it also allows you to see where you’ve made errors much easier than if it’s against the wall.

Whichever method you decide to use to paint your baseboards, it’s now time to do the actual work.

In this case, that means doing the painting. Keep in mind that painting the trim can be a very time-consuming process. So plan out your schedule to make sure you’re not rushing.

It’s Time To Paint!

When it comes to painting, the method is pretty standard even if you’re working with trim.

Step One

First, ensure that you have all of your painting tools (please reference the above section). If you have already installed the baseboards, use this time to implement whatever protections you’ll be using to keep your walls and floor safe, too.

Step Two

Take whatever paint you’ve chosen and use a little paint on a small section of the baseboard that you’ll be using.

Step Three

Once you’re sure you’ve selected the correct color, it’s time to get to painting. First up, will be priming the baseboards. If you’re not sure what priming is, it’s adding a preparatory layer to the baseboard to help the paint go on more evenly.

Although you may think that making sure your baseboards are pre-primed is unnecessary, keep in mind that if you don’t prime your work, you might end up dealing with peeling paint that will look bad within a few months. The additional layers of paint might even wear off!

Priming also helps cover up any dark spots that might remain from the baseboard’s original paint or wood grain. This is another reason why it’s important to make sure your trim is primed.

Step Four

Once you’ve primed the baseboards, it’s time to do the first coat. Grab your paints and get to work! Make sure that you’re adding even coats of whatever color you’ve chosen. You want to make sure that the paint goes on smoothly so that you don’t have any sections that look caked on.

Keep in mind that if you want the paint to look deeper and richer, you’ll need to add more than one coat. However, don’t make it too thick or you might end up experiencing chipping down the road.

Especially with the first and following coats, make sure to paint with a steady hand. Although large rollers and brushes can help hide spots where you may not have been as accurate, it’s best to try and be as careful as possible.

Step Five

Continue this process with the second coat, third coat, and all additional coats (and especially with the final coat), making sure that each coat dries completely before moving on to the next coat.

No matter what type of paint you’re using – water-based, latex paint, wall paint, or otherwise – or if you’re only painting one coat, you want to make sure that every layer has a smooth finish.

So, you’ve painted the baseboards . . . congratulations! Next up is the all-important step of installing the baseboards.

Installing The Baseboards

So long as you have the proper tools, this step might prove easier than not. Make sure the paint on each baseboard is completely dry, including whatever paint finish you’ve chosen.

If you have a nail gun or brad nailer, the install will be a breeze. Just prop the wood at the base of the wall and secure the trim against the wall with the tool. Before you know it, all of your baseboards will be installed against their specific wall.

On the other hand, if you don’t have convenient power tools – which is fine! – you might have to come up with creative ideas to install your trim on your walls.

You can use screws and a screwdriver or nails with a hammer. If you go this route, it’s best to add pilot holes so you don’t crack the wood. Whichever route you choose, have caulk on hand to fill any nail holes you create in your trim or your walls.

You can use a utility knife to fill any nail holes with putty or caulk material. Caulking material and putty will typically not affect your painting job and will serve to fill any holes you make when you install the trim.

For the record, caulk is a great material when you have holes to fill, so it’s a good idea to have some on hand for all your installation projects.

If you feel ill-equipped to paint or install trim, you can always hire a general contractor or even pro painters to help you!


Painting and installing baseboards doesn’t have to be hard! Take the time to prepare and plan out the install, and it’ll be smooth sailing.

Then sit back and relax in your new, beautiful room!

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