How to Paint Floor Trim | Bower Power
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How to Paint Floor Trim

2010 February 10
by Katie

Here’s an easy tip for those of you that are planning on painting the trim in a carpeted room:

Buy one of these:

It’s a 12 inch wide joint compound knife.  Usually people use them to shmear spackle into holes in their wall.  But now it is going to help you keep your semi-gloss off your berber (or shag…or whatever else carpet you may have!).

Step #1 - tape off your trim at the top where it meets the wall….or don’t if you feel extra confident about your steady hand.  Then lay your knife next to your trim so that the edge is butted up against your trimwork. 

Step #2 – Lift your knife to an angle with your non-paintbrush-hand.

You are gonna wanna make sure no carpet particles are trapped between your knife and your trimwork.  You are compressing the carpet so that you can get the best possible carpet protection.

Step #3 – Dip &  Dab

Load your paintbrush and get the majority of the excess paint onto your trim at the top where the wall meets your trimwork.  You want to end up with a paintbrush that has paint on it but isn’t dripping.  This is important prep for the next step.

Step #4 – Attack above the Crack

Now with your still wet paintbrush, run the brush along the trim slightly above the knife.  Make sure to hold the knife firmly against your trim and allow no excess paint to drip down into the crack.  You are going to apply the paint directly…don’t be scared if the knife gets paint on it… 

Step #5 – Finish Painting the Trim

Paint the rest of the trim above the knife so that it is thoroughly covered with a thin layer of paint.  Keeping the knife at the same lifted angle  (around 45 degrees), slide the knife over to the next portion of trim & repeat steps #3 and #4. 

If at any time your knife gets fuzz or overloaded with paint drips – do not attempt to slide & keep painting.  Just continue to step #6.

Step #6 – Lower & Remove

To remove the knife from the trim without having paint particles on your carpet, first lower the handle of the knife to the floor while keeping pressure on the blade.

Then lift & remove at the same time.  This will ensure that no paint from the knife will get on your carpet.

Step #7 – Swipe & Wipe

Sometimes there will be excess paint on the knife.  This is when it is necessary to wipe before continuing with your carpet-protection-painting-technique.  Simply take a paper towel and wipe both sides of the knife firmly until all wet paint has been removed.

There you have it folks…an easy & fast way to protect your carpet while touching up your trim!  I used to use cardboard for this same effect but in the end, preferred the joint compound knife because it had a handle and was thinner – providing a way for me to get right up close & personal with that carpet without changing the hue.  Plus, it was a lot easier to clean up & was reusable!

So that is my painting tip for the time-being…any other tips out there from you DIYers?  Anyone have a fail-safe way (like USE A JOINT COMPOUND KNIFE) to paint better?  Or maybe you are one of those scissor-sporters…you know, if the carpet gets painted, you just trim the carpet down a bit?   Please don’t say that you do that folks.  Carpet doesn’t grow back.

31 Responses leave one →
  1. Kristen permalink
    February 10, 2010

    We just painted the trim throughout our entire house and we used carpet shields. They were easy to use and saved a lot of time. You just have to make sure to move them quickly once you’re done painting…otherwise they’ll pull paint off (just like tape). We bought ours at Sherwin Williams for like $9!

  2. February 10, 2010

    Oooh, this idea is awesome and totally perfect timing for me. We need to paint the hideous oak trim in the nursery, but the hubs said it couldn’t be done because of the carpet. Ha! I’m totally taking care of it this weekend (after I get that handy tool…or carpet shields, whatever those are). Yay!

  3. amy permalink
    February 10, 2010

    I paint my trim the same way! Only I use one of those painting edgers I picked up at Lowe’s. Works like a charm! But I don’t put tape on top, I’m just that good with the brush…:) :)

  4. February 10, 2010

    Tip: Cover your joint compound knife with painter’s tape, and then you don’t need to worry about cleaning it as much.

  5. February 10, 2010

    Hw long did it take you to do your room with this method? How many paint coats did you apply?

  6. February 10, 2010

    Growing up I was the trim lady in my parents household. Anytime they painted the trim (which was a whopping four times in my 18 years living at home) I was the one to do it. Blame it on the steady hand and the obsessive desire to make it perfect. But this little trick could have saved me soo much time! I’m def. going to try this the next time I need to paint the baseboards!

  7. Melissa permalink
    February 10, 2010

    Thanks for the tip? Doesn’t the carpet touch the wet paint on the trim though once you move the joint compound knife?

    • February 10, 2010

      Actually it doesn’t…not for me anyway. When I pull the knife up and away, it tends to make the carpet stay away from the wet trim. Now, obviously if I went and pushed on the carpet fibers right next to the painted area, it might get a little paint on there…but generally, I avoid an area for a couple areas after painting so I have yet to have any problems.
      Hope this helps!
      XO – Katie

  8. Melissa permalink
    February 10, 2010

    Oops, I didn’t mean to put a question mark after the first sentence, I meant for it to be an exclamation mark. :)

  9. February 10, 2010

    We just did this in our nursery and it worked like a charm…great pregnant minds think alike!

  10. Bree permalink
    February 10, 2010

    wow…can’t believe I’ve never thought of this before!! haha..thank you so much for this tip!! I’ll finally stop ignoring all the trim that needs to be painted in my house. Thank you! P.S. Love your blog and I just love your style of writing…you crack me up!

  11. February 10, 2010

    Oh, you make it look so easy. Thanks for the tips. We’re planning to paint all our trim sometime this year, and I knew the painting tape couldn’t totally do the trick. Thanks, Katie!

  12. Brandon permalink
    February 10, 2010

    Awesome idea! What color is that on your wall? That’s the exact color I’ve been thinking about for my guest room.

  13. February 10, 2010

    This is great advice. I’ve been trying to paint my trim for over 6 months now. I was using poster board which worked great at first, but cheap lil’ me didn’t want to go buy more. After using the same few pieces about 10 times they didn’t really stick where they were suppossed to. I’m going to go get one of these things tonight!

  14. February 10, 2010

    Great Idea to not paint your carpet!! Oh how I hate painting trim though..
    I was very lucky that when we installed new trim in the entire house my dad painted it first with a paint sprayer (the small kind of sprayer, the large ones are annoying)

  15. February 10, 2010

    I use a similar method but with a cut-up sheet of Bristol/Poster board from the dollar store. I cut the big sheet into wide strips and used them in the same way you used the knife. It cost almost nothing and was quick because I set up the strips one wall at a time.

  16. February 10, 2010

    I usually just use blue tape and tape across the carpet, but this might work better. I’ll have to give it a try next time. Thanks!

  17. February 11, 2010

    I have something similar… mine’s about a foot long (that’s what he said…) and I actually found it in the isle with the paint rollers, etc. I’m not sure what it’s called, or if it’s made for that, but it works like a charm. Score!

  18. February 11, 2010

    Ok I have a question for you. You said you use semi-gloss, but I have tried that along with just matte paint as well. I couldn’t get the semi-gloss to not have a million brush strokes in it, where the matte did not. Any suggestions as to what I was doing wrong?

    • February 11, 2010

      Bummer. Maybe this had to do with your paint consistency. Sometimes very thin paint will show more strokes than well mixed paint that is thicker. Also, check to make sure your brush is very clean and has no clumpy bristles which can cause brush strokes. You can also be sure to apply several thin layers which can eliminate the lines. Lastly, it could be that you are looking at the area very closely with direct lighting. Matte paint from the same producer will reflect less light than semi-gloss…and you could just be SEEING more. If the brush strokes continue to bother you, I would try switching to a foam brush with has a more ‘speckled’ result than ‘stroked’ or a spray gun.
      Hope this helps!
      XO -Katie

  19. Sara permalink
    February 11, 2010

    I just use painter’s tape and put it on the carpet. I don’t tape off the top of the trim. I just use an angled brush and once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty quickly. I think taping off the carpet is much faster. I just did one of my rooms last week.

  20. February 12, 2010

    Thanks for sharing and starting a discussion on this! I am planning on painting all the trim on our main floor this summer, and was totally dreading all of the bedrooms until now…. thanks to the advice from your readers that tape and carpet shields work, I am a lot more confident!

  21. Andrea permalink
    February 12, 2010

    Yes, carpet shields for me too. That way, you can line the WHOLE room at one time and then just paint away…vs. one 8 inch space at a time. Plus, they’re cheap!

  22. February 25, 2010

    you are so frigging smart! i use those junk mailers but obviously they are waaaaay more flimsy than a steel blade! defintely going to use this tip!

  23. queenofdiy permalink
    March 3, 2010

    Simple, but effective. Love it.

    ~ Sarah @

  24. Lilly permalink
    April 1, 2012

    Hi Katie,

    great tips! Im just wondering what your favorite brand of paint is for painting trim? Last time we painted trim, it was thick and uneven. Do you add paint thinner when you paint trim?

    • April 1, 2012

      I don’t thin mine…in general though I just use regular old paint – not the fancy super coverage stuff…just normal bright white base (some folks call it pastel white base) with no additives or tint added. If your paint is really thick – it might be helpful to thin it a little…but just remember that thinner or not, it’s important to do multiple thin coats.
      xo – kb

  25. September 19, 2013

    Hi there this is somewhat of ooff topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or iif you have tto manually code
    with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • September 21, 2013

      I manually code. There are lots of consultants and developers out there that do both for bloggers though!
      xo – kb

  26. April 2, 2014

    Great post! Been reading tips for floor painting. Thanks for the info!

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