What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Baseboards?

Andrew Grill


When painting your baseboards, you will find three options of paint in different available sheens. In most cases, the best paint for baseboards is a water-based or Acrylic-Alkyd hybrid paint with a semi-gloss paint sheen is the best choice for painting baseboards and trim. Benjamin Moore Advanced is a popular choice; it can be purchased at one of their paint stores.



Sherwin Williams Trim Paint - Proclassic brand, one-gallon, oil-based.

Oil-based paint is the traditional paint for professional painters. Because it is oil, it dries smoothly, leaving a nice professional looking appearance. However, oil-based paints are known to contain VOCs, which are considered harmful in the home and are more difficult to dispose of.

Oil paints have an expected 10-18 hours of drying time. This makes it difficult to complete a painting project over a weekend. However, in many cases can be done with one coat.


Behr Trim Paint - PRO i300, one gallon, water-based

Water-based paint is less durable than oil-based. Due to this lack of durability, baseboards, being prone to scratches and scuffs, and in need of cleaning, might not be an optimal choice for water-based (acrylic) paints. However, people use them all the time. Water-based paints dry fast, are easy to clean up and are considered better for the environment.


Benjamin Moore Trim Paint - Advanced, one-gallon, acrylic-alkyd

Due to the regulations and environmental concerns of oil-based paints, paint manufacturers have developed a newer type of paint to combine the benefits of oil-based with water-based elements. Known as an acrylic-alkyd hybrid, this new type of paint is known to dry faster, and smoother, with less environmental concerns. However, not every manufacturer makes acrylic-alkyd and if they do, not all make it in all types of sheens.


Sheens offer paint finish. Depending on which kind of paint color you choose, they can appear shiny with some reflection or have no shine at all. White paint is the most common baseboard and trim paint, but many home designs incorporate other colors.

Flat or Matte: Flat paints are low-gloss. They help hide any flaws on the baseboards. However, the paint has a texture to it. Because of the texture, it is difficult to clean dirt and debris. Instead, it ends up spread out. Consider flat if you are using a paint brush with latex paint.

Semigloss: Most professionals use semi-gloss. It is available in all paint options. Homeowners typically prefer semigloss because it has a nice, clean look to it, and its smooth surface is easy to clean.

Gloss or High Gloss: The highest form of gloss. Gloss is the easiest baseboard to clean, but because of its high sheen, it also makes any marks or dirt more visible.

Satin Finish/Eggshell: These have a slight gloss, one step above flat. Satin has more gloss than eggshell. They are both resistant to scuffs and marks.


Flat, or matte paint can help disguise brush strokes, but it can be easily damaged when cleaning. Use a less abrasive sponge or washcloth and gently clean to avoid damaging the look of your baseboards.


If you want the best possible looking baseboards...

Choose oil-based paint with a semi-gloss. Using oil, you have the best chance of creating a nice, smooth surface on your baseboards.

If you want professional-looking baseboards, but want to avoid chemicals...

Use acrylic-alkyd. It is specially designed to dry similar to oil-based paints but avoids the VOCs that can create health concerns.

If you want to paint your baseboards fast...

Choose a water-based paint, either semi-gloss or satin. Water-based paints can dry quick, using a semi-gloss or satin will help hide any brush strokes or marks left behind from painting.


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