How to paint trim?


I need some tips from experienced people about how to paint trim. I am about to paint my dining room and hallway (part hardwood floor, part carpeting) for the first time in 15 years (way overdue) and I want to make sure I do it right. I searched online for information and I am literally overwhelmed with TMI, so I decided to ask on Hometalk and find out what I actually need to know, before painting the trim. I am referring to the trim/molding/baseboard both by the floor and the ceiling, as well as around windows and doorways. What kind of paint, what to look out for, paint trim before or after walls and ceilings?, any special instructions, prep, etc...? Please share your knowledge and experience! Thank you!

q how to paint trim
  8 answers
  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom Holly Lengner - Lost Mom on Dec 04, 2018

    They sell paint specifically made for trim so that the brush marks aren't seen. They can help you at your local hardware store. They will also help you chose the right brushes. You will want to start by making sure the trim is clean from any dust and debris. Usually wiping it down with a damp rag will be enough. Use painters tape to tape off the area above/below the trip. I like the green frog tape better than the blue tape. You can find the green tape at your local hardware store also. I would put a drop cloth on the ground where you will be working. I hope this helps and good luck to you.

  • If you have pets, use a microfiber rag as you go to wipe up fur. I'm also a fan of frog tape. When I repaint my trim, I plan on using an enamel based paint since it dried harder than latex. Enamel works great on doors and cabinets, so it should work great on trim.

    • Amanda Amanda on Dec 11, 2018

      Thank you Emy. Is enamel generally a better paint to use on wood surfaces?

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Dec 04, 2018

    Easy Peasy - Clean all trim with TSP to clean and degloss. Spackle, caulk and sand any holes or cracks in the walls. Paint the walls first with a roller. Tape around the trim with painters tape. Use a gloss paint on the trim, either in the same wall color or a white. It's very important to get a good trim brush so brush strokes don't show. Lay a tarp on the floor for paint spots before you start painting.

  • Pat Rios Pat Rios on Dec 04, 2018

    All instructions above are perfect! It’s time consuming but easy. Clean it well, tape the wall where you don’t want the paint to go, brush one or two coats of satin latex paint (You can also buy the paint specifically for trim but I don’t really see much difference).

    A good paint brush will make your work much easier and it will look more professional. My favorites are Purdy and Zibra.

    good luck!

  • Jen Jen on Dec 04, 2018

    Tape off your floor...I use an angle brush which makes it a whole lot easier!

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Dec 05, 2018

    My instructions are a conglomeration of many of the above.

    Spackle/caulk and sand any holes or cracks in the walls and trim.

    Clean well (no need for stinky TSP imho).

    I am great at using an angle brush so generally don't tape but you should for ease.

    Paint the walls first using flat interior paint. Oil based paints do dry with a stronger finish than latex BUT, it takes a long time to dry, stinks, and is difficult to clean up after.

    Use satin finish on the trim (or gloss if you prefer)

    I agree to use an angled brush and use the type recommended by the paint store as being appropriate for your type of paint. I use a 2 1/2" angle brush for trim.

    Definitely move all furniture out of your way and put down drop cloths to protect your floors. I prefer canvas or old sheets over plastic drop cloths. Plastic is slippery and the paint stays wet so you can step in any drips and track them on the floors.

    If you don't finish your painting on the first day, you don't need to clean your tools or paint tray (if using one). Merely cover the paint tray, brush and roller with a tight wrap of plastic wrap and they will stay soft for use tomorrow. You can't leave them covered for more than overnight or they will begin to get gunky and harden. (do remove all excess paint before wrapping by merely painting until your brush/roller needs to be reloaded). Hammer the top back on the paint can after you've cleaned out the groove on the lid with your paintbrush. 😎 👌

  • William William on Dec 05, 2018

    Blue painters tape above the trim and the floor. Painters tape on the ceiling and wall for crown molding. Same for around doors and windows. Use trim paint and a good brush.

  • Katie Sara Creates Katie Sara Creates on Dec 05, 2018

    I just painted the trim and the walls in our bathroom. I prefer to paint the trim first and then the walls (I just find it's easier to cover up any white paint that might accidentally make its way onto the wall as opposed to the other way around). I learned the hard way in previous rooms that the type and brand of tape you use does matter — it may be a bit more expensive, but Frog Tape is definitely the way to go! When it comes to the type of paint to use, my aunt, who worked in a paint store, always recommended a semi-gloss finish and that's what we've used throughout our home — it looks great!

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