10+ Tips to Help You Paint Trim, Walls and Baseboard Like a Pro

Does the thought of painting a room in your house make you want to run for the hills? Would you rather sit through a 12 hour documentary on paper than update your paint color? Well, sit tight because I think I may have some suggestions to lessen your pain when figuring out how to paint a room….

How to Paint Edges Between Wall and Ceiling

When cutting in around the ceiling, overlap down onto the wall so that you have a fresh surface on which to cut in the wall color

Paint the ceiling 1st (even though it hurts your neck and is boring). I love to paint, but painting white on something white (like refreshing a ceiling) is just not any fun to me. I won’t change!! Unfortunately, I also don’t like a ceiling in any other color than white, so I’m stuck with the boring part. Music helps- play “We Will Rock You” by Queen while doing the ceiling- that always helps me!

Edge the ceiling with your brush first and then roll the ceiling. Also, use a pole that extends your roller length so at least you don’t have to keep climbing up and down a ladder to finish your ceiling.

When you edge the ceiling with your brush, overlap the paint onto the walls by an inch or two. Don’t try to stay off the walls. You’ll eliminate the old wall color and have a fresh canvas to get a nice sharp edge when edging with the new color. If you prime the walls, you now can roll right up to your ceiling overlap and you’ve saved yourself a step.

Cutting in the wall color- the red is gone so there is no chance that you will get a glimpse of it between the white and green
If you try to paint a perfect line at the edge of the ceiling, and then you try to paint a perfect line at the top of the wall with the new paint color, you WILL end up with bits of the old wall color peeking out between the ceiling paint and new wall color. Also, you can paint the room much more quickly if you are only edging one surface rather than two. Ask me how I know……

How to Paint the Trim

Applying the trim paint. The trim color is overlapped slightly onto the wall, speeding up your application and giving you a nice clean line to edge the wall color against

Paint your window and door trim before painting the walls. You might be thinking- What? Here’s the deal. When you paint the trim, if you get some paint on the wall it won’t be a big deal. Think about how much quicker you can go. Now you don’t want to glob the paint on the wall, but getting it on the wall is perfectly fine at this point. If you do get a glob on the wall, wipe it off before it dries.

Paint trim with a semi-gloss paint. This helps keeps your trim looking good and it’s very easy to clean when it does get dirty. If you are painting over a previous semi-gloss paint or polyurethane, make sure you prime before painting. It’s very important- you need to put a flat paint over a glossy finish, then you can paint a semi-gloss paint over a flat finish. This helps each step stick much better.

Fastest Way to Paint the Walls

Paint the walls next. Once again, if you get paint on the baseboard at this point, it’s not a big deal. Just make sure it’s not globs of paint. This again speeds up the process of painting.

If your walls have lots of flaws, paint with flat paint. This will hide and minimize the flaws. If you are concerned with ease of clean-up, paint the walls with a satin finish. This is especially applicable in bathrooms and the kitchen.

How to Paint the Baseboard

It’s possible to get a nice clean line if you paint the baseboard last. Paint the baseboard last. Why? Well, it’s the same as the previous tip. You can see the top of the baseboard and the edge of your paintbrush much easier than trying to edge the wall above the finished baseboard. Every time I try to edge the wall above the baseboard, I end up practically standing on my head.

If you are installing a new baseboard (and/or door and window trim) paint it before you install it. It took me at least 20 years to convince hubby this is the best way to handle new trim but I think he finally sees the advantages. His hangup was always that the trim gets banged up and gets fingerprints on it when hanging it, but trust me on this- it will take you 5-10 minutes to touch up the trim versus spending a couple of hours trying to keep the paint off the wall and floor. Now, if it’s old trim, you just have to deal with it. I’m not a fan of painter’s tape at all, but it does come in handy at times.

If you use painter’s tape to keep the paint off the floor, for instance, make sure you remove the tape while the paint is still wet. If the paint dries, you have to use a utility knife to score along the bottom of the trim before removing the tape so you don’t inadvertently remove the paint from the trim.

The Tools and Supplies Needed For Painting a Room

The rubber band is used to wipe the excess paint off the brush, keeping the edge of the cup clean.

Use cups to hold your trim paint so that you aren’t holding a heavy can of paint (a solo cup works great). Place a rubber band around the cup vertically to wipe your paintbrush on. Why? Well, you won’t get any drips off the edge of your cup. I’m very careful when painting (except with myself- my clothes are a hot mess when I’m painting) and there is nothing more annoying than getting a drip off the cup just because I’m wiping the brush against the edge of the cup.

My awesome 1 1/2″ brush from Purdy. If you re-form the brush after every use, it will maintain it’s a sharp edge. When picking out a paintbrush, take it out of it’s packaging to make sure that the edge of the paintbrush isn’t very thick. You want a brush that tapers down to a nice fine edge. I always buy tapered brushes rather than straight ones, to eliminate even more bristles at the edge. Buy quality brushes. This isn’t the time to skimp. When cleaning your brush, keep the bristles pointing down so water doesn’t run into the ferrell (the metal part that’s crimped over your bristles). Wash your brush thoroughly and I mean thoroughly (until the water runs clear).

Don’t be satisfied and think you are done when you see the surface is clean. Keep separating the bristles to get the paint out of the interior of the brush. If you skip this step your brush will be rock hard when it dries. When clean, shake the excess water out of the brush and then pat dry and reform into the proper shape.

Don’t clean your roller covers!! What a waste of time and water!! Place the business end of the roller into a gallon bag that can be zipped up. This will keep the roller ready to use for weeks-literally weeks!! When you are finally done with that color, simply throw the cover away. One thing you will want to keep clean? The ends of your roller handle. If you let the paint build up on the ends, it will be very difficult to get the covers on and off and the roller may not spin correctly. This is one of those fun clean-ups- simply peel the dried paint off the ends- they are plastic and the paint comes off in one chunk!

For very short-term periods (an hour or two) you can also wrap up your paintbrush in plastic wrap to keep it fresh until you move to the next room and need it again. I don’t like to mess around though and try to get away without washing my brushes. This could potentially ruin them and I consider my brushes an investment and like to keep them in good working order.

Obviously, you will want to lay down some sort of drop cloth to keep the paint off your floor. The cheapest solution is a plastic drop cloth. They are okay, but kind of slippery. If you are going to be doing a lot of painting, the canvas drop cloths are awesome, but more of an investment.

If you wonder why I don’t talk about painter’s tape in my tips, it’s because I don’t like it! Every time I use painter’s tape, the paint bleeds underneath, not to mention the amount of time it takes to tape everything off.

Now, having said that, if you just don’t have a steady hand, you WILL need to use painter’s tape. The key to using it is to make sure it adheres securely and remove it while your paint is wet. Good Luck- it just doesn’t work for me, but I get it if you need to use it!!!

I hope this has given you some new ideas for a different order to the steps of painting a room. I don’t know if my steps are the “conventional wisdom” steps that most people do but over years I have developed this order to save me a TON of time. I think it’s the easiest way to paint a room, and I hope you find that to be true also!

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Hello. My name is Natalie, welcome to my blog. I'm married and a mom of two small children.

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