Expert advice to help you paint trim like a pro

Painting trim need not be stressful. With the right tools, materials, and advice,  having gorgeous and professional-looking trim is like child's play. We'll tell you how.

Expert advice to help you paint trim like a pro

Before you get started

Here are some things to keep in mind before you start painting trim:

  • You usually want to save trim painting as the last step of a painting project.  Prepare everything before you start the wall and ceiling.
  • The previously-painted woodwork probably has a semi- or high-gloss finish. Give it a light sanding to ensure everything adheres properly.
  • You should strip woodwork that's chipped or has too many layers of paint.  Use a nontoxic paste chemical stripper (available in hardware stores).  Apply the stripper with a brush and then scrape it off with a joint knife once the paint has softened.
  • If you're looking for a faster way to remove paint, a heat gun is another option. Take extra care so that you don't scar the wood or burn yourself. Hold the gun 15 centimetres from the paint, work over a small area before moving on, and always wear heavy work gloves. Be sure that you have a heat-resistant place to set the heat gun down as well! Scrape off loose paint as it bubbles up.
  • Whatever stripping method you use, always sand the wood before repainting it.

Painting with the right technique

  • If you have a steady hand and a good chisel-edged trim brush, try painting trim freehand. Otherwise, use masking tape or painter's tape to tape off the areas that need to be protected.
  • Apply the tape carefully, since it will define the crispness of your edge.
  • If the tape is being used to protect a wall or ceiling, use a lightly adhesive paper tape made for masking painted surfaces.
  • Remember to only apply tape to dry paint.

Painting double-hung windows

  • To paint double-hung windows, it's best to lift them out if possible and lay them on a flat surface. If this isn't possible, paint them in sections, raising and lowering sashes to reach all of the parts.
  • Begin with sashes just slightly open to get the very top and bottom, and to avoid painting them shut. While these are drying, paint as much of the pane dividers as you can reach, and then do the rest of the sashes, casing, sill and apron.
  • Raise the lower sash all the way to do the lower jambs; then lower the upper sash to reach upper jambs.
  • Finally, with the window closed, paint any missed areas.

Use painter’s tape

Use painter's tape between pane dividers and window glass to minimize the time spent scraping paint off of the glass later. Butt the tape as close as possible to the pane dividers. Alternatively, remove paint on glass with a straight-edged razor blade.

Before you paint a door

  • Before you paint a door, remove the knob and check to see that the door opens and closes freely, with room for another coat of paint.
  • Close the door and slide a piece of cardboard between the door and the jamb all the way around. If you discover spots where you cannot slide the cardboard, sand them down before you start painting.
  • Be sure to protect the door's hinges with tape, as paint can make hinges stiff or cause them to rust.

Follow these simple tips and you'll have an expertly painted trim that you can be proud of. Happy painting!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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