How to Paint Stained Trim

10 Materials
$65
1 Day
Easy

Seems like everyone is loving the farmhouse style right now so painting trim is a priority in room remodels!
Stained trim has an oil based sealer on it (polyurethane). For the same reason oil and water don't mix, latex paint cannot be painted on stained trim. It will stick for a while but eventually flake and peal off.
To begin, tape off any areas you don't want painted. (walls, carpet, glass, etc). Use 120 grit sandpaper to scuff the surface and remove any sheen. Wipe surfaces down with a damp cloth.
Next, use a disposable brush to paint on a coat of oil based primer. Allow to dry.
Add a couple coats of paint.
When you go from stained to painted, you will see gaps in some areas.
Use latex painters caulk to seal the gaps.
Run your finger over the caulk to smooth it. Wipe off any excess. Allow to dry. Most caulk says paintable in 30 minutes but it takes an hour or 2. Touch up to caulked areas with paint.
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Michelle Dodson
    on Jan 7, 2018

    The ceiling is confusing me. Is it just a play of the light or ... ?
    • MK McDonald
      on Mar 10, 2019

      I like the ceiling and being plaster you can just spray paint it when it gets dingy looking. Way better than popcorn ceilings! Unless you’re tired of the 70’s look, lol!

  • Carol
    on Jan 8, 2018

    You said to use an oil based primer, but you didn't say what kind of paint you used??? Was it oil based as well? Thank you ahead of time for your answer!
    • Phyllis
      on Mar 9, 2019

      No. Once you have the primer on, you will use latex paint. The primer is made to accept either but latex is best now

  • Susan QC
    on Jan 8, 2019

    I don't use an oil based product if I can help it and I hate to sand. What do you think of the products I see called de-glossers? Could I de-gloss the trim and then paint it with latex? Thanks for any hints or thoughts.

    • Pjo26908388
      on Mar 9, 2019

      Sanding keeps the primer and paint stuck without peeling and gives it a professional finish. The sanding is to remove loose pieces, dull the old varnish and make it receptive to paint.


      Deglosser is strong chemically and I've found them to be more expense and time consuming than what is necessary on trim.


      Sanding with a sanding block to dull the paint and then cleaning with a damp rag is all that is necessary prior to painting.


      Oil based primer holds up the very best over time. However there are excellent white based primers like Kilz and Zinzer. Use a couple good coats and yes- sand between. Then use an acrylic paint designed for baseboards and trims.

Join the conversation

2 of 17 comments
  • Ginny
    on Mar 10, 2019

    I just can't believe anyone would paint such beautiful wood!!!!

  • Susie
    on Mar 11, 2019

    Each to their own, Ginny. Looks very nice, Lisa, and good instructions, too!! e

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