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7 Simple Steps To Paint Trim Like A Pro

Are you looking for one of the easiest ways to improve the look of your home this weekend? If so, then consider repainting the baseboards and trim work in a room or two!

Painting the trim of rooms throughout the house not only helps freshen up the look of the area, but also enhances the color of walls and brings visual interest to the room.

Over the past 10 years as a professional painter, I have painting a lot of trim for customers, but you can take on this DIY project with a few hours, and I will share some professional tips to show you how to paint trim around your home to instantly freshen up any room in your house!

Why Is It Important To Repaint Trim Work?

When homeowners think of a painting project they typically only think or adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls in a room. While repainting the walls of a room can change the overall ambiance of the area, this type of home improvement project can take an entire weekend to complete.

Even if you are not worried about the time it takes to repaint an entire room, you may not need to repaint the walls. This is because baseboards tend to take a beating from regular wear and tear (especially if you have pets or kids running around).

Trim typically includes areas of your home like baseboards, door/window frames, and crown molding. While your rooms may have different wall colors, the trim throughout your home will be the same to keep a consistent look and feel throughout your home.

Since each room likely has baseboards and a few windows or doors, the amount of trim work in each room can add up quickly. This means trim work plays a big role in how the room looks, so a fresh coat of paint can make the room pop in just a few hours.

What Tools Do I Need To Paint Trim?

Painting trim only requires a few tools and supplies to get a professional look, like:

  • Drop cloths: To catch any drips and spills that may fly off your roller when applying a new coat of paint.
  • Sand Paper: You may need to sand down rough areas on your trim work. I like to use 120-grit sandpaper to even out any rough spots before painting.
  • 2.5” Angled Brush: This type of interior paint brush is perfect for trim work because the angled bristles help get a clean edge against the wall, carpet, and corners.
  • Foam Paint Roller: I like to use paint rollers on door frames and window sills. Since you will be using a semi-gloss paint you need to apply an even coat of paint to the trim, and a foam roller will help you compared to other types of mini roller covers.
  • Painter’s Tape: You will need to apply painter’s tape to the wall and on the floor/carpet to prevent trim paint from getting in these areas. Painter’s tape will help you get a straight line on the walls and trim and help avoid getting paint on your floors and carpets.

What’s The Best Way To Paint Trim?

I like to brush and roll trim work because these methods require the least amount of prep work and reduce the chances of causing drips or spills on the carpet.

The only time I won’t roll or brush trim work is if I am working on new construction, but chances are that you are looking to repaint trim work in your current home so I recommend not using a sprayer for this home improvement project.

For these reasons, I recommend using an angled brush and a foam paint roller to repaint baseboards, door frames, and crown molding around your rooms.

If you are painting the entire room, then you will want to start painting your trim first before painting the walls. This is because it’s easier to cut against the trim, and painting the trim work first will ensure you get lots of paint on the inner lip of the trim before painting wall surfaces.

If you are painting the trim and walls, then you won’t have to apply painter’s tape to the wall since you will paint the walls after the trim. However, if you are just painting the trim around a room then you will need to lay painter’s tape on the wall to avoid getting paint on the wall as you apply paint to the inner lip of the trim.

Step 1: Clean The Trim

Any quality painting project has to have some prep work and cleaning to ensure the paint can adhere to the surface. Not only does cleaning and prep work make the surface ready for painting, but it also removes dust and dirt that could make the final project look bad.

I like to use soapy water to clean trim work in a kitchen, while you can get away with a dry rag to dust off trim work in bedrooms. Make sure all trim work is dried off before painting, and use a vacuum cleaner to pick up loose dirt and dust in corners as needed.

Step 2: Fill Nail Holes

Your baseboards and trim work can get dinged up throughout the year. That’s why it’s important to use filler, spackling compound, and caulk on the woodwork before you begin the interior painting project.

This is a great time to smooth out any dents or gashes in the trim work to ensure a smooth finish throughout the room.

Step 3: Sand The Trim

Now that your trim has all the dents and gauges filled in, it’s time to smooth out any rough spots with sandpaper. It’s important to sand down the trim work before painting baseboards, door frames, and window frames because it will help the paint adhere to the surface and make the final product look amazing.

Be sure to use a vacuum cleaner to pick up any dust from sanding. I also like to run a dry cloth over the area to remove any extra dust from the area before painting.

Step 4: Lay Painter’s Tape

The first step to painting trim in a room is to place painter’s tape on the floor. If you have carpet floors then you will want to wedge a piece of painter’s tape under the baseboards in 1-3’ sections. Tucking the painter’s tape below the baseboards ensures that no paint will touch the carpet so you won’t have to clean drips or spills at the end of the project.

If you are only painting the trim work, baseboards, and door frames around a room then you will also want to lay some painter’s tape on the walls to prevent trim paint from getting on the walls.

Once all painter’s tape is laid down, I like to place drop cloths around the room to prevent paint from getting on the floor or furniture as I roll the paint onto the trim work.

Step 5: Paint The Trim’s First Top Coat

Now that you have all of the prep work completed, it’s time to start painting the trim! It’s important to note that you will want a paint sheen that is one step higher on trim work than you used on the walls.

I like to use eggshell on the walls, but use semi-gloss paint on trim since it helps make the room pop and it’s easier to clean.

Once you have the trim painted and when you’re ready to paint, you can start brushing and rolling the trim around the room.

Brushing the first coat is pretty easy, you just need to remember to use long even strokes to prevent brush marks from showing once the paint dries. Try to find the right amount of paint to apply with each brush stroke where you are laying enough paint down to cover the surface but not too much where the paint builds up and drips.

If you notice brush strokes or drips once the first coat dries, you can use fine sandpaper to smooth out these areas. I like to use very fine sandpaper (280-grit sandpaper) when needed in these areas.

Step 6: Paint The Trim’s Second Top Coat

The second coat of trim work is pretty straightforward and should go quickly. During this coat, you will want to focus on smoothing out any areas on the woodwork that needs extra coverage.

I like to use the foam roller on the second coat of paint to ensure I don’t accidentally make brush strokes that will show once the paint dries.

While this coat should go relatively quickly, you will want to take your time and pay special attention that you have ample coverage on the lips of the trim work. Be sure that your painter’s tape is set on the wall to prevent paint from seeping onto your walls.

Step 7: Cleanup

Now that you finished the paint job, it’s time to clean up and enjoy your beautiful rooms. It’s important to wait until the trim paint has dried, but not cured before removing the painter’s tape.

If the painter’s tape begins to rip off paint, it means that the paint is dried. In this case, you may need to use a knife or sharp painting tool to score the paint along the edge of the painter’s tape to ensure you can get a clean edge.

Tips For Painting Trim In Your Home

Painting trim can be a daunting task, but with a little patience and attention to detail, you can achieve professional-looking results. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Dip your paintbrush about 1/3 of the way into the paint. This will ensure you have enough paint to cover a few feet of trim before you have to load your brush with more paint.
  • Start painting trim at one side of the room and then continue painting trim in one direction to ensure you apply an even coating across the entire interior space.
  • Be sure to start painting your crown molding first since you don’t want to bump baseboards or door frames with your ladder.
  • Apply paint to trim with a smooth stroke of the brush. You will want to finish each section of trim with a single stroke to smooth out any brush strokes or other imperfections.

Paint Trim For A Perfect Interior Project

Painting trim may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tips and tools, it can be a breeze. Follow these guidelines to have clean lines and a beautiful finished product. Happy painting!

Chris

Hi, I'm Chris. I'm a professional painter with over 10 years of experience. I want to show homeowners tips, guides, and advice to save them time and money when painting their own home. I know it can be daunting to take on a painting project yourself, but it doesn't have to be. With the right information and some guidance, you can easily paint your home and save money in the process.

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