When you’re doing a remodel, you always need to plan ahead of time and see if you need to remove baseboards to paint them or not.
The truth is that most homes tend to have baseboards, they are attached to the wall, and they are like decorative pieces.
They can still offer protection, especially for corners, which is something you need to take into consideration.
It’s important to know whether you have to remove baseboards for painting or not, as it will show you exactly what approach to take and how to complete the process properly.
Do you need to remove baseboards for painting?
The truth is that most of the time it all depends on the scope of that painting job.
If you are trying to prepare your home for moving in, then you obviously need to remove baseboards and paint everything.
But if you’re just cleaning up and want to do a refresh for your old home, then a new look with a repaint will do just fine.
What this means is, if you just want to paint the walls, ceiling, or both, most of the time you need to leave the baseboards the way they are.
The only time when this might be needed is when your baseboards are extensively damaged.
When that happens, you must take action, and that can indeed make a huge difference.
When to Remove Baseboards for Painting?
You have multiple reasons why removing baseboards (also called skirting board, skirting, wainscoting, mopboard, floor molding, or base molding) can be a very good idea when painting.
The main benefit is that you can try out a new look, which might go very well with a fresh coat of paint.
It helps quite a bit, and it makes the process very convenient and dependable.
a) Baseboard damage
As we mentioned above, if there’s a lot of baseboard damage, you can’t leave it like this when you start painting.
Instead, you want to fully remove and also replace the baseboards.
In some cases, you might be able to repair them and paint easily.
But if the damage is significant (like water-damaged, stained or warped), then you will be forced to find new ones to replace.
This is great because it delivers quite an extraordinary experience in a situation like this.
b) Adding a new floor
Another reason why you must remove the baseboards for painting is that you are adding a new floor.
Obviously, the new floor can have a different size and height.
As a result, the baseboards need to be removed and then placed back up again.
You don’t need to do anything to them, which is great.
Instead, you just have to focus on the customization.
The same thing can be said if you want to do a total remodeling makeover.
You can paint after that, which means you want to fully remove the baseboards and then go from there.
When Not to Remove Baseboards Before Painting?
Of course, there are also reasons why not to remove the baseboards.
a) Repainting walls a different color
For example, if you’re just painting the walls a different color, then baseboard removal isn’t really necessary.
Instead, you will need to cover them with protective tape.
In case you get some color on them accidentally, you just have to remove the tape, and that alone can be well worth the effort.
It’s a great idea to keep in mind, and that alone will make it worth the effort.
b) Do not want to change flooring but only repaint
In case you keep the same flooring, but you just update the paint, it makes no sense to remove the baseboards.
It just leads to extra work, and this is something you want to avoid as much as you can.
The same thing can be said if you just need to do some new caulking.
In addition, if you want a different finish, then you can leave the baseboards where they are.
What if You are Painting the Walls the Same Color?
As you can imagine, baseboard removal is not really a good idea in this case.
So, you must protect the baseboards with some tape in order to avoid any paint damage.
But there’s no reason to remove them since you are basically working with the same color.
Caulking and painting can help a lot if you want to refresh the overall appeal of your home.
But there’s no real need to remove the baseboards unless you absolutely have to do that.
The same thing can be said if you’re keeping the same flooring.
You might want to do some other updates within your home, and that’s fine.
But the only major reason why you would remove baseboards is that you want to change your flooring.
If you just focus on painting the walls, ceiling, and so on, your baseboards should stay there.
It makes a lot of sense to take your time and mask and protect both your floor and baseboards, just to be safe.
However, there’s no real need to remove them, and that’s exactly the thing that you want to take into consideration in a situation like this.
What to Look When Switching to a New Type of Baseboards?
For most people, getting a new baseboard trim can help immensely, and it will deliver a much better experience and incredible results all the time.
When replacing for new, the baseboard style is up to you.
The idea here is to measure everything and see if it would fit your wall.
When that happens, you also need to think about new widths, shapes, and heights.
You can also choose to change the material of baseboards, from wood to plastic for example – if you really want to.
In case you have a painted baseboard, then you must figure out whether the installation process works for you and if it fits.
It should be very well for the most part, but you still want to prevent any issues and measure everything.
This way you can prevent any problem, so try to use that to your own advantage.
Do baseboards need special paint?
While both latex or oil-based paints are good for baseboards, water-based latex paints are easier to apply and clean up.
Semigloss finish or paint with a slightly glossy finish is the most recommended option when you want to buy the paints for solid wood baseboards or moldings.
When applying latex paint be sure to choose a nylon or poly-nylon brush for application. A 2 or 2.5-inch angled brush will work fine in most cases.
If you using an oil-based paint pick a natural-bristle brush that will help with the smoother application.
Do you need to caulk baseboard gaps before painting?
Baseboards with gaps (either at the top wall side or at the bottom towards the floor) are not only unattractive but can also allow heat to escape or drafts to enter.
It’s therefore good to caulk the gaps before painting. Use a paintable acrylic latex-based caulk that comes with traces of silicone.
If, however, the gaps are substantial caulking may not effective and you will need to get them replaced.
Is it worth saving the old baseboards for reusing or recycling?
If you are replacing the old baseboards try to remove them carefully as you will be able to reuse them for a new floor before carpeting.
Even if you do not plan to re-use them, you can recycle them in a variety of different ways within your house.
Smaller size baseboards can be recycled into good picture rails or for bigger ones you can make heap crown moldings between the wall and the ceiling.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are situations when you must remove the baseboards for painting, but there are also times when you need to leave them the way they are.
It’s important to try and keep the baseboards the way they are right now, without making too many changes to them.
Of course, if you need to do a complete remodel or you are changing the floors to something more pleasing like bamboo, then you obviously have to remove those baseboards right away.
However, more often than that you will notice that removing baseboards won’t be necessary.
It’s important to talk with a professional, just to be safe, as he can offer all the necessary guidance while identifying whether you must remove the baseboards or not in your situation!
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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