Painting baseboards when you have wall to wall carpet is like trying to apply lipstick when you have a handlebar mustache. It can be messy, but with a little preparation the results can be quite stunning. That's why you need to know about the packing tape trick.
There's a tool that's widely available at home improvement stores that's supposed to work for this application. It's basically a straight edge about 12 inches long. You shove the straight edge down the crack between the carpet and the baseboard, hold it there with one hand, and paint with the other. Basically, it gets covered in paint, you wipe it off each time you move down a foot, and you end up with 1000 paint-soaked rags. Plus the carpet fibers flop right back into the wet paint. We've also tried shoving blue painters tape down the crack and under the edge of the baseboard, but it tears too easily. We even tried plastic trash bags and a dry erase board. Nope and nope.
But yesterday it occurred to us to shove packing tape under the edge of the baseboard. Score! It doesn't tear easily, and it sticks the carpet down away from the wall. Sure, other people may have already figured this out, but we like to think of this as a simultaneous, independent discovery (much like calculus but with far more important ramifications).
Run the packing tape along the edge of the carpet (we scribbled on it with pink Sharpie so it would show up better in the photos) and let it lap up onto the baseboard about 1/4 inch. With a butter knife or a flat head screwdriver, push the top edge of the tape under the baseboard. Now you're ready to paint!
Editorial note: Never stick packing tape to your mustache when applying lipstick.
(Images: Katie Steuernagle)