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How to Paint Baseboards with Hardwood Floors

How to Paint Baseboards with Carpet

When it is time to paint your room, and you have hardwood floors, then you are faced with the problem of painting the baseboards and not getting any paint on your floors.

You can use tarps and drop cloths to cover hardwood flooring, but tarps and drop cloths tend to slip and slide on the floor surface. You inevitably end up with a tarp or drop cloth that is bunched up and not protecting the entire floor. This problem is enough to make you question your sanity and the decision to repaint.

There are several different methods you can use to protect your hardwood floors, and your sanity, while you paint.

Use Rosin Paper instead of Tarps or Drop Cloths

Rosin paper is used by construction professionals to reduce the air and moisture flow through a wall or a floor. This paper is normally red in color. It is made from resin that is extracted from plants and pine trees.

To use rosin paper safely on your hardwood floors:

  • Clean the floor thoroughly and remove all grit or dirt particles. The grit and dirt particles can be trapped beneath the rosin paper and scratch or mar the finish of your floors.
  • Apply the rosin paper in strips. You want to over-lap the paper sections by as much as 1” when you are doing this.
  • Tape the over-lapping sections of paper together so the edges of the paper will not curl up or slide out of place.
  • One layer of this paper will prevent a paint drip from damaging you floor. You must wipe up any paint you see as quickly as possible because the paint can seep through the paper.
  • To be safe use more than one layer of rosin paper so you have the ultimate amount of coverage.

Painters Tape

Best painters tape crisp lines textured walls

You can use painters tape to protect your hardwood flooring while you are paining your base trim. To do this you need to stretch out a length of the painters tape against the floor. It is best if you use short sections of tape when doing this.

Take a putty knife and gently push the edge of the painters tape under the baseboard. There is normally a gap between the flooring and the base trim so you can usually get the tape under the board with little effort.

Once the tape is under the board you will need to add a second layer of tape to hold the edge of the tape that is not under the board in place.

You have to over-lap the tape sections by as much as ½” so there are no exposed spaces.

You need to allow the paint to dry completely before you attempt to remove the tape. When removing the tape peel the outer layer off and then remove the tape that is stuck beneath the baseboard.


It is possible to take thin pieces of cardboard and insert them beneath the base trim between the trim and the floor.

If you can carefully slide thin piece of cardboard between the trim and flooring the cardboard should be sufficient to stop any paint leaks or drips from getting to the surface of your floor.

The paint you put on the boards will need to fry completely before you can remove the cardboard pieces.

Dustpan/straight edge

Some people like to take a clean dustpan, or some other straight edge, and hold the pan flush with the baseboard as they use their other hand to apply paint to the trim. After each application you have to move the dust pan and you must be careful to not get any paint on the outside of the pan so you do not get any paint on your flooring.

Keep a clean damp cloth right beside you in case of mistakes. If you accidentally get any paint onto the floor surface you can use the damp cloth to remove the mistake and leave no traces of paint on the floor.

Remove the Baseboards

Remove the Baseboards

If the base trim has not been painted over several times there is a good chance that you can remove the boards without damaging them. A thin pry bar can be used to pull the trim boards away from the wall. If the room has been painted several times there is a good chance that you will not be able to remove the base trim without damaging the wall materials. This is especially true if you have drywall in place.

If you can remove the boards you can take them outside and paint them while they are held by sawhorses. This is easier on your back and allows you to get a uniform coverage.

If you remove the boards to paint them you have to let them dry completely before you try to put them back in the room.

Pro Tips for Paint Baseboards

  • If you accidentally get some paint on your flooring, and it has dried before you see it, try using the facial cleansing wipes designed for acne treatment and prevention. 
  • The alcohol in these wipes is capable of softening the latex paint and allowing it to be removed. Before you do this try rubbing the pad on a small section of flooring that is unseen. The pad should not damage the flooring but doing a test section will determine for sure whether the pad will damage the flooring finish.
  • If your painters tape is removing any of the finish of the area below it then heat the tape with a hairdryer and remove while it is hot. The hair dryer will cause the adhesive to turn loose so you can remove the tape easily.
  • Use a tapered brush to paint your base trim. You can cut the paint onto the board from the floor up to reduce the amount of paint transfer that might occur.
  • Use thin layers of paint to cover the trim. If you use thicker layers of paint you will be more apt to have runs or drips in the paint. Thin layers dry quicker and have less of a tendency to run or drip.
About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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