One of our friends is purchasing a new home and they want to give it a fresh paint job in a few of the rooms before they move in. The problem they are having is deciding if it is better to remove the moldings before they paint or tape around them.
In my opinion if the moldings are tight and in good condition and you don’t have plans to remove them because of a design change then the best method is to either tape them or use a painter’s mask to paint around them. I have been doing this for many years with both Painted and stained moldings and in all honesty if there is no reason to remove the moldings you are going to have a better chance of everything staying together and looking better when the job is done.
Now if you have stain grade moldings that require repair and refinishing you might be better off pulling just those moldings that require repair. It will depend on the extent of the refinishing you need to do. If its just a scuff and some fresh varnish or poly then you can get away with them in place and your life will be so much simpler than trying to refit moldings that have found their place on walls that have settled over many years.
Protecting your Moldings when Painting your Walls
To protect your moldings when painting your best bet is to get a tape machine with some paper or plastic that fits the dimension of the molding. Using a tape machine will place a piece of tape right along the edge of the roll of paper as you pull it out. It is an expense but if you are doing this to your whole home or many homes its worth the investment.
The alternative for a cheap method is to apply a single half inch strip of painters tape to the molding edge where it meets the wall and then you can tape paper or plastic roll to it easy without worrying about the edge.
Painters tape is always suggested because it is low tack but it will hold out the paint well. Never burnish or rub down the tape you apply. A light application with your finger just to make sure it adheres to the surface making sure the edge is down is the most important part.
Remember latex paint is pretty forgiving so if you have a mistake a bit of soapy water on a rag will take it off most surfaces if you act within about 4 hours.
Another tool is a Painters Mask. This is a small tool that kinda looks like a piece of metal window blind with a handle. It allows you to get in close to your moldings and paint a nice straight edge and it means you don’t have to deal with tape.
This is a great tool for working around window pains with divided lights or items that can’t be removed easily such as baseboard heating elements used in many oil heat homes.
Learning how to cut in the edges of a wall is an important skill if you want your work to look good. The first thing you should do after the room is prepared is to paint all of your corners and edges both at the top and bottom of the wall with a brush. You want to paint a 3 to 4 inch border but you need to move quickly because you don’t want the paint to dry before you use a roller to get in close to that edge and hide all of the brush strokes.
This is why painters often work in teams. There will be people cutting in the edges while someone else power rolls the room with a pressurized roller that feeds paint and doesn’t require loading. Rooms can be painted very quickly this way but prep time will still be required.