Choosing the perfect white paint color for your baseboards can completely transform the look and feel of a room. But with so many options to consider from undertone to finish, it can be an overwhelming decision.
Step 1: Determine Your Desired White Undertone
The first step is deciding whether you want to go with a warm, cool, or neutral undertone for your white baseboard paint. Here’s an overview of what each one means:
The 3 Main White Undertones
Warm whites have a hint of yellow, tan, or red in them. They tend to look creamy and inviting. Popular warm white paint colors include:
- Sherwin-Williams Alabaster
- Benjamin Moore White Dove
- Behr Creamy
Cool whites have subtle blue or green undertones. They read as clean, crisp, and bright. Some top cool white paint choices are:
- Sherwin-Williams Extra White
- Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
- PPG Paints Pure White
Neutral or true whites don’t lean warm or cool. They are a balanced white without any undertones. If you want a bright white without the yellow/tan or blue/green tones, go for neutrals like:
- Sherwin-Williams Pure White
- Benjamin Moore Simply White
- Behr Ultra Pure White
Which Undertone is Best for Your Baseboards?
So how do you decide whether warm, cool, or neutral is right for your space? Here are a few factors to consider:
- The natural light in the room – Cooler whites can look too stark in rooms with abundant natural light while warm whites are more forgiving.
- Wall color – Pure whites risk blending in too much with light walls. Go a shade off-white for more contrast.
- Room furnishings – Warm whites pair well with traditional and classic decor. Cool whites pop against colorful, modern furnishings.
- Personal preference – Do you tend to prefer the coziness of warm tones or the bright simplicity of cool tones?
Testing paint samples is the best way to see how the undertones interact in your specific room. But in general:
- Warm white paint brings a cozy, welcoming vibe.
- Cool whites feel clean, airy, and bright.
- Neutral whites provide flexibility to go warm or cool with furnishings and decor.
Step 2: Select a Brand of White Paint
Once you decide on an undertone, it’s time to pick a brand. Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore are top choices for white paint.
Sherwin-Williams vs. Benjamin Moore
Both Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore offer extensive white paint selections. Each brand has its devout fans.
Sherwin-Williams is known for colors like:
- Pure White – crisp, bright neutral
- Extra White – clean, cool-toned white
- Alabaster – popular, slightly warm white
Benjamin Moore whites like these are also big sellers:
- Chantilly Lace – a go-to cool-leaning white
- Simply White – popular neutral white
- White Dove – warm white with beige undertones
Both brands offer excellent quality paints and stellar white selections – you really can’t go wrong.
Other Paint Brand Options
Beyond Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore, other brands to consider include:
- Behr – known for their Ultra Pure White neutral and Swiss Coffee off-white.
- PPG Paints – their Pure White is crisp and bright.
- Valspar – their Clean White reads as a soft neutral.
Pros of these budget-friendly brands are affordability and wide availability. Cons can include fewer premium finishes and less expert color selection than designer brands.
Step 3: Choose a Finish for Durability
When it comes to baseboard paint, the finish you choose is critical for durability and easy cleaning. The two best options are:
Why Semi-Gloss and Gloss Are Best
Semi-gloss offers mid-level light reflection. It resists moisture, stains, and mildew while providing some sheen.
Gloss finish reflects the most light. It’s super durable and easiest to keep clean. The high shine acts as a visual accent, making baseboards pop.
Both semi-gloss and gloss finishes stand up to frequent wiping and cleaning. Their slick finish deters dirt adhesion. For high-traffic baseboards, they can’t be beat.
Matte and Eggshell Finishes
On the other end of the spectrum, matte finish has no shine and shows the most imperfections. Eggshell has a soft velvety appearance but is harder to clean.
While these lower-sheen finishes work well for walls, they lack the durability and wipe-ability you want for baseboards. Exception: if your baseboards are lightly used or you want an ultra-matte look.
Step 4: Decide Between Matching or Contrasting Trim
Should you paint your baseboards the same color as the door and window trim or go for a contrasting look? There are good reasons for both approaches.
Benefits of Matching Baseboard and Trim Color
- Creates a streamlined, cohesive appearance.
- Makes a space feel expansive and seamless.
- Gives a soothing, monochromatic look.
An all-white scheme with matching trims and baseboards has a light, airy effect. The eye flows easily around the space.
Benefits of Contrasting Baseboard and Trim Color
- Pops the baseboards so they stand out.
- Adds visual interest through contrast.
- Lets you get creative – mix colors and sheens.
Different trim and baseboard colors clearly define each architectural detail. Contrast adds stylistic punch.
Factors to Consider
Current trim color, baseboard proportions, and personal preference all come into play when deciding whether to match or contrast trim and baseboard colors.
- If your existing trim is a dark color like black or espresso, matching with white baseboards can look stark. Consider an off-white like Swiss Coffee instead for softer contrast.
- Beefy baseboard profiles make a bolder statement and stand out more than thin, plain boards. Painting them a contrasting color accentuates their presence.
- Trust your instincts – if contrasting trim and baseboards appeals to you, go for it. If a seamless look better suits your aesthetic vision, match them.
Step 5: Test Paint Samples Before Committing
Never decide on a white paint color for your baseboards based solely on a small paint swatch or chip. The only way to make a truly informed decision is to test larger paint samples directly on your baseboards.
Order Color Swatches
Both Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore allow you to order free sample-sized containers of paint colors to test. Other brands have sample options too. Be sure to test any top contender whites on your actual baseboards before fully committing to a gallon.
Paint Sample Strips on Your Baseboards
Divide a section of baseboard into strips and paint small swaths of your potential white choices. Make sure to evaluate how the colors look at different times of day and night. This gives you a preview before committing to a full coat of paint.
Seeing undertones and sheens on your baseboards is a must. Samples also allow you to judge whites against your existing wall and trim colors.
Choosing the perfect white paint color for your baseboards requires looking at undertones, sheens, brands, and how colors play with your existing decor. By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be armed with the knowledge needed to confidently pick the ideal white for your space.
Start by deciding warm, cool, or neutral undertones based on your lighting, furnishings, and preferences. Next look at top brand options and finishes. Determine whether matching or contrasting trim makes sense. And always test samples before committing. Now you’re ready to give your baseboards a fresh new white coat that transforms your rooms.