New carpet is expensive, so take care painting baseboard

Q.: I’m painting a room with new carpeting, but I’m scared to death that my wife will kill me and tell me that if I got a drop of paint on it, we should have hired someone. Anyway, I want to paint the walls and baseboards, but I don’t know how to paint baseboards without getting paint on the carpet when the carpet hits the baseboards.

ON: Some couples learn that doing home improvement projects together can really strengthen or tear a relationship apart. You may want to have a marriage counselor on hand in case things go wrong.

Painting around carpet is a little scary, and the added risk of divorce doesn’t make it any easier. Carpet is expensive, so you need to protect it while painting. You didn’t say whether to use a roller and brush or a paint sprayer, so we’re taking both separately.

If you want to roll the walls and brush the baseboards, you can use one of several methods to shield the rug. Probably easiest is to use a large drywall taping knife. Slide the knife over the front of the baseboard and press it against the carpet. This creates a V shape between the baseboard and the knife that you can slide your brush into.

A word of caution: use minimal paint on the brush. First, you’ll work near the rug. The more paint there is on the brush, the more likely a drip will appear. Second, painting the baseboard will give you paint on one side of the knife. Note that you don’t want a lot of paint on the knife as it will drip (wipe the knife down every time you get paint on it). Another reason to limit the color is because sometimes the carpet will spring back and touch the baseboard and apply paint to it.

You can also purchase a dedicated baseboard painting tool to accomplish the same thing. It’s essentially a piece of flimsy plastic about 3 feet long, shaped like the letter “L.” Slide it between the baseboard and the carpet. The top of the carpet is protected by the plastic, but you need to be careful with it as you will get paint on it and it will be weak enough that it will flutter around and get paint on your clothes, carpet, curtains, etc.

When you spray the walls and baseboard, you’ll need to mask everything off. For the rug, you’ll need to glue along the edge of the rug where it meets the baseboard. Some painters use a drape to cover the carpet while others use plastic wrap (although it can be slippery), but you need to protect the perimeter where the carpet meets the baseboard, and this is done with tape.

You can put 2 inch wide tape along the baseboard, but you’ll need to get it below the level of the carpet so you won’t notice a color difference after removing the tape. It’s not a difficult job, but you probably won’t enjoy the time you spend bending over the taping along the baseboard.

The trick is to put the tape on the carpet and pull the stack away from the baseboard so you can paint it. Lay the tape loosely on the carpet so that about half an inch of it just touches the baseboard. A cross section of this would look like a gradual arch from the baseboard to the top of the carpet.

Now you want to squeeze the tape between the carpet and the baseboard and pull it away from the wall. I know painters who use a spatula or even their fingers to slide the tape in.

You want to transfer the tape from the baseboard to the carpet base. Of course, make sure that only the edge of the tape is touching the baseboard before you begin pushing it in. If the tape actually sticks to the baseboard, tear it off.

When you’ve pressed the tape to the base of the rug, peel the tape away from the baseboard. This grabs the carpet along the baseboard and lies a little lying down.

Then you can press the top of the tape down so it sticks to the top of the rug to hold it in place. Then you can mask off plastic or lay out the fall cloths.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions can be emailed to [email protected] Or send an email to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, # 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. Its web address is

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