June 29, 2022

How to paint trim

How to paint trim?

Trim painting can be a daunting task. But with the right tools and a little bit of know-how, it can be a breeze. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps for trim painting like a pro. So grab your supplies and let’s get started!

What is trim?

Trim is a type of molding used to decorate the edges of walls and doors. It is typically made of wood, but can also be made of plastic or metal. Examples of trim include baseboards, crown molding or windows, and door frames.

Why paint trim

Baseboards or door frames can get a lot of damage from accidental kicks. Window frames get touched a lot. Painting your woodwork is a great way to cover these imperfections, stains, and scratches. You can also prevent this accidental damage in the future. Adding a pop of color or changing the look of a room is another great reason why you should paint the trim.

Brushing versus spraying the trim

There are two main ways to apply paint to trim – brushing or spraying. Each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.


  • Brushing is cheaper than spraying
  • More control over the paint application
  • Easier to avoid making mess when brushing
  • More time consuming to brush the trim
  • Hard to achieve a smooth finish
  • Difficult to avoid brush strokes


  • Faster than brushing
  • Provides smoother finish
  • Easier to achieve a consistent coat of paint
  • It is usually more expensive than brushing
  • Hard to void making a mess
  • You don’t have that much control when spraying

What should I paint first? Walls or trim?

Most people paint the walls first and then the trim. This is because it is easier to tape off the trim when you are painting the walls. When you paint the trim first, you will need to be more careful not to get paint on the walls. You may also want to consider painting the ceiling before the walls and trim. This can help you avoid making a mess.

What tools and materials do I need?

Safety tools

Always protect your health while doing any dangerous work. Painting is no exception. Wear goggles to protect your eyes from direct paint damage as well as from the fumes. Wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling fumes, dust, and sand. You may consider purchasing a lead testing kit. Lead was a standard part of paint until it was banned in 1978. It is a very dangerous chemical substance that may still be on old paints and houses built before this year.

Preparation supplies

Get a drop cloth or sheets to protect the furniture and floor from paint drops. Painter’s tape to protect the wall or floor against brushes. Get an orbital sander, sander block, or 120 grit sandpaper to work the trim. You might need a hammer and nails in case you need to fix the trim first. Lastly, get yourself a caulking gun and putty knife to fix any dents or cracks


You will need to clean your trim before you start priming or painting to get rid of dust or grease spots. A sponge and standard cleaning cloth will do.

Painting supplies

Of course, you will need a brush. Purchase one that is made special for trim painting. Aim for a width similar to the width of the trim. You will need a ladder to comfortably reach moldings or door frames. Get a paint pot, a paint stirrer, and a paint tray.


You will need soap to clean your trim first. Purchase knotting pale, wood filler, wood caulk, and spackling paste to repair all the dents and cracks in your trim. Lastly, get a quality wood primer and good wood undercoat and topcoat paint.

How to choose paint for a trim?

There are two main types of paint you can choose for your trim – oil based paint or latex based paint. Each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Oil-based paint

  • More durable and long-lasting
  • Provides smoother finish
  • Releases intense fumes
  • Dries for a long time
  • It is prime for yellowing
  • Easier to achieve a consistent coat of paint
  • Time-consuming
  • Hard to clean up

Latex paint

  • Easy application
  • Minimum fumes
  • Dries fast
  • Less durable
  • Easy to clean up
  • Doesn’t provide a smooth finish

How to choose the trim paint color?

Choosing the right trim paint color can be tricky. You want to choose a color that will complement the walls and ceiling, but you also want to make sure it is not too overwhelming. A good rule of thumb is to choose a color that is two shades lighter or darker than the walls. You can also choose a color that is complementary to the walls. For example, if you have green walls, you might choose a yellow or white trim. If you have blue walls, you might choose a white or cream trim.

Trim painting process

Prepare the room

Remove the furniture away from the room. If that’s not an option, move it into the middle of the room. Cover all your furniture and floors with drop cloths. Paint splashes and drops are unavoidable and the drop cloths will save you valuable time and prevent damage to your home.

Assess your current painted trim

Is it in good condition? Do you need to remove any old paint or repair any damage? And most importantly, was your house built before 1978? Until 1978, lead was a standard part of paints. Some old paints in current houses can still contain it. Make sure to test old paint jobs for lead. If the test is positive, remove the paint by scraping it off the walls. Make sure to wear a respirator to protect yourself against hazardous dust. Mop and vacuum afterward. You can also choose to replace the whole surface.

Prepare the trim

Fix and tape the trim

Make sure that the trim is tightly secure to the wall. Fix it if t’s not. Remove all obstacles like nails, sockets, or light switches. Tape around the trim to protect the wall from paint drops. If you have a carpet, tuck the tape under the tri and over the carpet. Tape the floor next to the trim if you have a solid floor. Do another run with the tape to widen the working space. Move your drop cloth to overlap with the tape.

Clean the trim

Use a damp rag or sponge to remove all dust and dirt from your trim. If you are using an oil-based paint over latex, you will need to use a degreaser.

Repair the trim

Once the trim is clean and dry, you can start repairing all the damage. Fill cracks, dents and holes with spackling compound or wood filler. Use flexible caulk to fill gaps between the boards. Make sure to let the filler or caulk dry completely before moving on.

Knotting pale

Look for knots in the wood. These can bleed through paint and ruin your whole trim job. To prevent that from happening, cover all knots with knotting pale.


Sand down the whole trim with fine 120 grit sandpaper. This will give the primer and paint something to grip onto. It will also help you achieve a smooth finish. Don’t forget to wipe and vacuum the leftover dust and dirt.


Now you can start priming the trim. Choose a primer that will work with your paint. Latex-based primer works with latex paint. Oil-based primer works with oil-based paints. If you’re not sure, ask a professional at your local hardware store. Prime the trim in long, smooth strokes. Make sure to cover all the surfaces evenly. Let the primer dry completely before moving on to painting.

Painting the trim

Now you’re ready to start painting. Mix all your paint cans into one big container. This will allow you to keep color consistency. Stir the paint before you fully load the paint brush. Slap the brush inside the can to get rid of the excessive paint. Apply the paint in a long steady one-way stroke. Start at the dry areas and make your way to the wet ones. Begin painting in the corners and work your way out. Use long, smooth strokes. Let the paint dry completely between coats. Apply as many coats as necessary to achieve the desired color.

Painting finish

Choose a paint finish based on your desired result. A high-gloss finish will give your painted trim a shiny, sleek look. A matte finish will provide a more subtle look.

Finish with painting

Now you’re finished painting! Let the trim dry completely. Remove all the painter’s tape and drop cloths. Put all your furniture and obstacles back in place. And enjoy your new trim!


We hope that this post will help you to master the trim painting. But if you still need professional help, don’t hesitate to contact us.