How to Paint Baseboards without Tape? Good Tips for Starters

We have baseboards partly to hide the somewhat unsightly point where walls meet the floor. For aesthetic purposes, you may want to paint or repaint your baseboards. Yet, paint is likely to touch other areas outside the baseboard. The typical solution to this problem involves using painter’s tape to cover the areas around the baseboards. However, besides increasing labor and costs, the tape can peel off paint from the walls you apply it to.

But painting without painter’s tape can be daunting, especially if you are a beginner. So, in this article, we will share tips for painting baseboard trims without tape. We will expose you to techniques and tools for painting your baseboards without using tape or staining your walls or floor. These techniques are all amateur-friendly. Then we will consider the pros and cons of using or not using painter’s tape.

Tips On Painting a Baseboard Without Tape

When painting your baseboard, you can achieve a precise and clean finish with the right approach, technique, and tools. Below are some tips for painting baseboards without tape.

1) Use A High-Quality Angled Paintbrush

To get the right finish for your baseboard, especially when not using tape, be aware that not just any paintbrush lying around will do. A high-quality brush will do a much better job for you.

We recommend using an angled paintbrush to paint baseboards and cut other trims. Sharply angled paintbrushes are great at cutting straight lines because of their angled edges. Also, the angled brush will allow you to get into tight corners and edges.

Brushes come in different thicknesses, so you need to consider the dimensions of the surface of the baseboard in choosing one. For the normal trim, you should consider using an angled paintbrush between 2 and 3½ inches wide. However, a smaller brush width will work best for the narrower edges of your baseboards. While it might take longer to cover an area, you will likely find it easier to control smaller brushes than bigger ones.

Besides the brush size or type, a good handle is vital for applying a good finish. We all have varying hand sizes. Therefore, a good handle is whatever feels comfortable in your hand. Remember that you will pinch the paintbrush near the bristles with both your forefinger and thumb when painting. Avoid brushes with rough handles as they can make the delicate work of painting baseboards without tape inconvenient and even cause blisters.

Lastly, consider the type of paint you will use when buying your angular brushes. Some angular brushes work better with oil-based paints, and others work better with water-based paint.

2) Use A Steady Hand

Without painter’s tape, you must be more careful and delicate in applying paint to your baseboards. So, when painting your baseboards, avoid long or haphazard strokes. Instead, endeavor to practice holding a paintbrush steadily and use smooth strokes.

For better control, use your dominant hand when painting the baseboards. In addition, hold the brush handle between your thumb and fingers. Your grips should be loose, but not so much that you accidentally drop the paintbrush.

You will experience hand fatigue faster if you grip the brush handle too tight and stroke too quickly. Furthermore, stroking too fast will not allow you to apply a precise finish to the baseboard.

The need for steady hands is another reason you should not cheap out on the paintbrush, as cheaper brushes tend to have less convenient handles.

3) Use Cut-in Method

The cut-in method moves the brush in successive crescents instead of a continual linear line. The crescent patterns should reach the wall’s edges or trims before pulling back. Successive crescents close together will create a straight line together. In time, you can paint straight lines with the brush once you master painting this way.

4) Use a Paint Shield

Paint shields are also known as paint guards and edgers. They are long, thin sheets of metal or plastic that you can stick under or above a trim you want to paint. They are similar to painter’s tape in preventing the paint from staining other areas. However, they are different because there is little setup needed for shields. Instead, you use them simultaneously with the brush to apply paint to the baseboard.

Using a paint guard is straightforward. Hold your paintbrush with your dominant hand and the shield with the other hand. To use it:

  • Place the metal side of the guard against the edge of the surface you wish to protect.
  • Paint the baseboard’s vertical and horizontal dividers with a narrow paintbrush, around 1 – 2 inches, with the shield in place. Start from the center and paint a straight line to one side of the edge.
  • Clean off paint from the paint guard occasionally to prevent paint smearing.

Suppose you are not confident about your ability to paint without tape and want to avoid painter’s tape-associated issues. In that case, a paint shield or guard may be a suitable alternative for you. Use cardboard or an index card if you cannot get a paint shield.

5) Do Not Paint in A Haste

With painter’s tape, you might feel confident in painting quickly. Without tape, painting fast could soon lead to disappointment from seeing paint splatter or bleed onto surfaces outside the baseboard.

You must be patient and attentive when painting baseboards and other trims without tape or a shield. Spend time working in small sections to achieve a clean and tidy finish.

6) Clean Mistakes Quickly

Suppose you accidentally stain the wall or floor while painting the baseboard. There is no need to panic. You only need to clean the area with a damp cloth when the error occurs. If you do not attend to the issue fast, the paint will dry on that surface. Dry paint is much more difficult to remove than a fresh coat.

7) Use Quality Paint

There are paints whose manufacturers designed them to work well on baseboards and trims. They are also known as trim paints and tend to come pre-tinted in base colors that can be custom tinted. Trim paint is self-leveling, sag-resistant, and non-yellowing.

While oil painting help to level brush strokes, we cannot say the same of just any water-based paint. Water-based trim paints contain additives to help smooth out and level it.

Paint sag occurs due to gravity’s pull. Naturally, wet paint can sag and stain surfaces underneath. Without tape, this can be a problem. So, it is best to purchase paint with sag resistance.

Moreover, since baseboards are usually painted white, using paint that can resist yellowing caused by ultraviolet rays makes sense.

While you can use any paint to paint your baseboard, we recommend trim paint to achieve a good finish.

8) Paint The Baseboard Off the Wall

If you are installing baseboards for the first time or replacing old ones, paint the baseboard and let it dry before you install it.

Also, if you are painting existing baseboard trims, consider removing and painting them elsewhere before reinstalling them. You should know that removing already installed baseboards can be tedious and complicated. Further removing baseboards will increase the work time significantly. Also, please do not attempt to remove baseboards stuck to the walls with older paint unless you plan to replace them.

Painting the baseboard off the wall eliminates issues like stains and paint runs associated with painting baseboards you have already installed.

Tape Or No-Tape: Pros and Cons

With the right tools, technique, and patience, we know we can achieve a clean and tidy finish when painting a baseboard without tape. But we have yet to ask if we should paint a baseboard without tape. There is no correct answer. Either method is acceptable. Instead, we will discuss the pros and cons of using tape/no tape when painting baseboards. The pros and cons can help you decide the best method.

Pros Of Painting Without Tape

  • It saves time that you would use in installing painter’s tape.
  • You can reduce the cost of painting baseboards by cutting out painter’s tape.
  • The delicateness you need in applying paint without tape can give you more fine-grained control in complex areas.

Cons Of Painting Without Tape

  • It requires focus and steady hands, which some people do not have.
  • Without a paint guard or shield, you lose any protection in case of mistakes.
  • Painting baseboards this way forces you to use specialized brushes and paint to achieve a consistent finish.

Pros Of Painting with Tape

  • Correct installation prevents paint sag, drips, smears, and runs on painted surfaces.
  • It is generally easier to paint baseboards and trims when using painter’s tape. With painter’s tape technique, fast brush strokes, low-quality brushes, use of non-specialized trim paint, and unsteady hands are less of an issue. As a result, painting baseboards with tape is more beginner-friendly.
  • Painting with tape allows you to work faster and still create sharp lines.

Cons Of Painting with Tape

  • Uneven surfaces can make applying painter’s tape to the baseboard challenging.
  • With faulty installation, paint can bleed underneath the tape and fail at preventing the very issues you meant to avoid.
  • Painter’s tape will increase the cost of painting your baseboards.
  • Removing painter’s tape sometimes peels off dried paint from the wall. This situation will give you more work or leave an unsightly patch on your wall.


You can paint baseboards without tape successfully with the proper technique, tools, and patience. This article provides tips to help beginners achieve a clean, precise, and tidy finish when painting their baseboard without painter’s tape. A high-quality brush, trim paint, steady hands, a cut-in method, and a painter’s shield are effective methods for achieving this. These tips will save you time and money and provide a beautiful finish for your baseboard.

It would help if you took note of the pros and cons of using tape or not in painting your baseboard. Painting without tape does not make you less of a painter. So, weigh the pros and cons before making a choice.