How to Paint Baseboard Trim With Carpet

You don’t need to worry about hiring a reliable painting contractor for your latest painting project. You may think painting baseboards when you have carpet is tricky, but I’m going to show you my secrets so you can paint baseboard trim with carpet without breaking a sweat.

Small Dark Hallway after the baseboard trim has been painted with carpet. The baseboard is all painted white dove by benjamin moore. This hallway makeover part 1 is finished. In the back of the hallway is the small laundry closet.

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If you think you need professional painters to get those crisp clean lines in a room when you’ve got wall to wall carpet, I’m here to tell you this is a prime example of a good DIY project. If you’re up to it, follow these tips to paint baseboards like a pro.

3 Things To Consider Before You Paint Your Trim Work

As I’m preparing to paint rooms that all have baseboard trim I decided to brush up on my painting game. I have a few things I’m trying to accomplish when I choose to plan a project.

  • 01 Always, always on a budget. So, I must figure out how to get the job done with as little expenditure as possible.
  • 02 Efficiency is the rule. How can I get this job done with as little mess and clean up as possible?
  • 03 One and done. I do not want to have to repeat this process at all in the future. So, the job must be done well the first time.

Consider your job in the next steps laid out to help you efficiently tackle the entire area, or entire room quickly.

Small Farmhouse Style hallway with unfinished wooden trim waiting to be properly prepared for the paint process. The carpet has seen better days. At the end of the hallway is a small laundry closet.
Don’t mind my carpet, it has definitely seen better days. Despite my incessant carpet cleaning.

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#1 Simple Tip – Plan Your Paint Project the Proper Way

Before you step foot into any interior painting job (or exterior) or run off to Home Depot for goodies, take a moment to plan your attack strategy.

There is a process to every single DIY project you get into and it’s always a good idea to get your ducks in a row. This is the process I follow for every single new paint job I perform in my home.

  1. Choosing the Right PaintColor & Type
  2. Gather Supplies & the Right Tools
  3. Prep Your Trim For Paint Well
  4. First and Second Coat of Paint
  5. Clean the Area & All Tools

I go into greater detail about each one of those steps further down, so keep reading for inspiration to help you dig into painting that carpeted room.

Unpainted wooden trim as a close up picture. The trim and faux shiplap has been caulked and is about to be cleaned for paint prep.
A close-up shot after the trim had been cleaned and caulked.

Step One: Choosing the Right Paint

Two very important things to consider when making what is likely the most important decision in this particular project.

Consider What Kind and How Much: Color, Brand, & Sheen

01 What Kind of Paint?


The last thing you want to do is get through two or three coats of paint and realize a week later you hate the color. So this step is kind of crucial.

Yes, it can be changed, but painting is my least favorite DIY so I really try to avoid ever having to repaint a room. Because of this, I tend to choose really pleasant neutrals.


You may think that cheaper is better, but it actually isn’t. There is something called viscosity which means basically the thickness and structure of a paint (solid count).

Less expensive paints are typically diluted with extenders, which will result in poor coverage. Basically, they’re watered down which is why they’re less expensive.


There are 5 types of sheen: Glosssemi-glosseggshell, satin or pearl, and matte (also known as flat). The shinier the paint, the more imperfections. Just keep that in mind. There is give and take.

In Conclusion

Check out my post Paint A Dining Room In A Day I have an entire section dedicated to helping you pick the right paint color, brand, and sheen.

Farmhouse style faux shiplap halfway up the wall on one side of the hallway adds character to an otherwise boring and plain builder grade home. The wooden is all unfinished being prepared for paint.
You can see we’ve had some artwork find its way up on the walls.

02 How Much Paint?

There’s an app for that! No really, there is. However, you can also find a great paint calculator here.

The mid-range or more expensive paints tend to require fewer coats so it may be a good idea to use the calculator from the brand you plan on purchasing from. I always use Behr Paint & Primer in an eggshell sheen and have excellent results.

Step Two: Gather Your Supplies and the Right Tools to Paint Baseboard Trim with Carpet

There is a handful of tools and supplies that will make this job a breeze. Remember each situation may require a slightly different approach. Therefore the tools and supplies might vary slightly depending on your carpet and wall situation.

Note: When purchasing tools and supplies there are a few instances where you can afford to cheap out and purchase less expensive products.

But there are other times when it will jeopardize the quality of the job you do and may end up making the job twice as hard.

Recommendations: I would not recommend sacrificing quality on either the paint brush or the painter’s tape. Buy the right tools to start. I would also not recommend using a foam brush if you do not want to see any “brush strokes” in your new paint job.

Step Three: Prep Your Trim for Paint: Proper Precautions

For best results, before you paint baseboard trim with carpet you need to ensure the surface you’re going to apply paint on has been cleaned thoroughly, dried, and caulked to perfection.

Proper Paint Preparation Work Includes These 5 Things:

  1. Cleaning the Entire Baseboard Section Thoroughly
  2. Caulking & Filling Holes with Spackle
  3. A Light Scuff Sand & Wipe Down
  4. Protecting Your Surfaces From Paint
  5. Tape off the Baseboards and Walls

Three Main Steps For Properly Cleaned Baseboard Trim

First, vacuum or dust your baseboards to get all loose dirt eliminated. Second, Grab a mop bucket of warm water mixed with a few squirts of your favorite soap and wash them clean. Scrub gently with a scrub brush or magic eraser where appropriate. And the third and last step is to let them dry thoroughly.

Basic Supplies for Cleaning Trim Boards

A mop bucket full of warm sudsy water, a microfiber cloth hanging over it. And on the floor next to it is a scrub brush and a sponge. I'm preparing to clean the baseboard trim and walls before I start painting.

Caulk Your Trim & Fill Any Nail Holes with Spackle

Properly caulked trim will make a room look like a million bucks. Take the few extra minutes it takes to fill your nail holes or divets with spackle, the professional finish will be worth it.

I go through this entire process in a previous post 7 Steps to Prep for Paint Like a Pro. Head over there for the entire process of paint prep broken down into 7 easy steps, with details about caulking trim as well as why I choose spackle to fill holes.

A Light Scuff Sand with a Fine-Grit Sanding Sponge

If this is not your trim’s first coat of paint, or there are old paint drips, or you just want a fresh new coat of paint. The good news is this is 100% attainable, the bad news is there’s a chance it might need a light scuff sand before you begin.

Take a fine-grit sanding sponge to the entire baseboard, literally just minutes extra to help adhesion and clean up any little paint brush marks from previous coats.

Protecting Surfaces From Paint Before You Paint

As far as levels of protection there are several options depending on your budget and the size of the project.

Drop Cloth

Unless you have a really steady hand you’re going to want to consider protecting any surface you don’t want paint on (including hardwood floors).

I have pretty trashed carpets from years of toddlers and pets. So, I’m not worried about the state of the carpet itself. However, touching a brush with wet paint on the carpet will result in carpet fibers being transferred to your lovely smooth finish.

There are 2 great options for drop cloths

  1. Canvas Drop Cloth. The benefit is it is reusable, not consumable. It can be washed when you’re done and moved easily when you move down the wall to paint. This is more for large areas of carpet, protecting from splatter in case of a paint sprayer or roller.
  2. Plastic Drop Cloth + Painter’s Tape. The benefit is you can simply throw it away when you’re done for an easy clean-up. It’s very thin and has painter’s tape built into it. Therefore you can easily slip it under your baseboard trim for bulletproof paint protection. This is ideal for a project like if you were needed to paint baseboard trim with carpet.

Other Method Options Besides Drop Cloth

  • The Plastic Sheeting Method: The other option for using drop cloth is to use any other type of plastic sheeting like an old plastic shower curtain. You can use this to save yourself money and repurpose something that could be in a landfill! Bonus, I bet you can find an old one at a thrift store for pennies!
  • The Painter’s Tape/Packing Tape Method. This is the most typical recommendation. You would simply use a putty knife to push the blue painters tape or regular masking tape under your trim and leave it there until the paint is mostly dried (but not dried).
  • The Thin Cardboard Method. I like this method if I’m not doing a large area. You simply use an old cereal box cut up and stick it under your trim. You just slide it down the carpet as you paint. The only downfall is it won’t be there to protect the carpet should there be drips.
  • The Large Drywall Taping Knife Method. Like the thin cardboard method, this moves with you as you paint down the wall. The benefit of this option is that, obviously, the knife is reusable and more cost-efficient than even the painter’s tape/drop cloth option.

Notes: No matter the method you choose ensure you’re not overloading your paintbrush to avoid drips and puddling.

One of our cats, Ginger photobombed as I was trying to take some photo after shots of the freshly painted trim. Thankfully its dried so the cat isn't smearing paint.

Tape off the Top of the Baseboard to Protect Your Wall Paint Job

It isn’t just the bottom of the baseboard or edge of the carpet you need to be worried about. It’s also the paint job above the baseboard.

If you’re like me and you like simple you could opt to paint your walls the same color as your baseboards and then that eliminates taping them. But if not, keep reading.

I always use Scotch Brand blue painter’s tape because it just does a good job. Tape off the entire area above the baseboard. If you painted the walls recently I would recommend using their delicate tape so you don’t pull any paint off the walls.

If you choose, this would be the time to apply a coat of primer.

Step Four – First and Second Coat: Paint Baseboard Trim with Carpet

You’re giddy, you’re ready to hit that trim with paint. It feels like a slow process up until this point, but all the preparation will give you such a beautiful end result, I promise.

The good news is that because you’ve done all of the prep work this process should be quick, but I can’t promise it will be painless.

After all the prep work was done I painted my entire dining room in a single day. So, this is actually the fastest part of the entire process.

First Coat & Second Coat Process

Apply your first coat all the way around the room. Watch for drips while it dries.

When it has fully dried (usually 1 or 2 hours) go back through with a second coat.

I personally have never had to do more than 2 coats of paint + primer on any surface. But if you’re painting over dark paint or stain you may need to. Let it dry after the second coat for a few days and come back to evaluate the coverage.

Gingy the cat photobombing around the corner as I'm taking after shots of the nice painted baseboard trim. There's still a long way to go with this farmhouse style hallway, but each step I take is adding much needed character to this otherwise boring builder grade hallway.

Step Five – Clean Up the Area & Tools, The Final Step

This feels tedious, but it is so important to properly clean your tools and space quickly when you’re finished. I have two great arguments for why it is so important to clean as you go in paint projects:

  1. It helps the tools stay nice for reuse in a later project.
  2. Messes happen when the paint is left out, it’s like a rule of the universe.

How to Properly Clean Your Paint Tools

Since this process doesn’t require oil paint the clean-up process is really simple. To clean my brushes and rollers I typically use dawn dish soap, warm water, a quick flick, then let it dry.

Make sure to clean any splatter off quickly from your kitchen or bathroom surfaces when your tools are all clean.

Note: As long as there is paint color coming out of your brush or roller it is not clean yet. Keep going until the water and soap comes off clean.

There you have it, guys! The process of how to paint baseboard trim with carpet in its entirety! I hope I have given you the inspiration and tips to push you forward with this great DIY project.


f you want the project to be over as quickly as possible follow these 5 steps:

  1. Choosing the Right PaintColor & Type
  2. Gather Supplies & the Right Tools
  3. Prep Your Trim For Paint Well
  4. First and Second Coat of Paint
  5. Clean the Area & All Tools

You can eliminate a lot of time by painting your trim the same color as your walls. This will cut out any time taping off the walls from the trim.

Paint wood trim on carpet with these 5 basic steps:

  1. Choose Your Paint: Color, Brand, & Sheen
  2. Gather All Your Supplies & Tools
  3. Prep Your Trim For Paint Well
  4. Apply Your First & Second Coat of Paint + Primer
  5. Clean Your Area As You Go & Clean Tools At the End

The best way to protect carpet from paint is to choose either a canvas drop cloth or a plastic drop cloth + painter’s tape combo. Either of these options applied over your carpet before painting will keep the paint from splattering on any unwanted surfaces.

Thanks for stopping by!


Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→

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