How to Paint Trim

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Painting trim (Photo: @photovs via Twenty20)
Is your trim looking drab? Your trim and molding are exposed to more wear and tear than your walls due to their close proximity to the floor, furniture legs, and windows. That being said, sometimes all it takes to breathe fresh air into a room is applying a new coat of paint to your trim.
Has your trim seen better days? Here’s how to give it a fresh coat of paint.

Prepare the space

Before you whip out your brushes and paint, you need to do a few things to prepare the space:
  • Move furniture away from the area where you’ll be working
  • Apply painter’s tape to the borders of the trim to prevent messes on wood, laminate, or tile floors
  • Protect your carpets by using a putty knife to tuck masking tape between the carpet and baseboard
  • Place a drop cloth to ensure the paint doesn’t get on the floor
It’s also a good idea to gather safety equipment like goggles and a mask to protect your lungs and eyes from the dust created by the sanding process.

Prepare the trim

Before you apply the primer or paint, you need to prepare the trim by cleaning, sanding, and fixing dents or cracks.
Clean: The first step of preparing your trim for painting is ensuring that it’s clean. A good wipe with a damp sponge should do the trick. Once the trim is clean, you can begin the sanding process.
Sand: Begin by performing a quick scuff sanding with 80 grit sandpaper. Once you’ve gone over it once, switch to a 120 grit sandpaper and sand the trim again. If your trim is brand new, only use the 120 grit long enough to remove the trim’s sheen. If you’re working on curved areas, it’s easier to work with a sanding sponge. Once you’re done sanding, use a tack cloth to wipe away the dust after sanding.
Fix damage: If there are nail holes, cracks, or dents in the trim, use a spackling compound to fill them. Once it’s dry, sand the surface again with 120 grit sandpaper before wiping it down to remove the dust. You should also use caulk to fill gaps between the wall and the trim.

Prime the trim

Use an angled brush to apply the primer. If you’ve applied painter’s tape, you don’t have to worry too much about staying in the lines.
Let the primer dry for around 24 hours and then determine whether or not you need a second coat. After the primer is dry, sand the wood trim again with the 120 grit sandpaper. Once you’ve removed the dust created by the sanding process, it’s time to apply the trim paint.

Paint the trim

Painting the trim is a similar process to applying the primer; however, there are some particular things to keep in mind while painting. To give your trim the smoothest appearance that’s free of brush strokes, consider using oil based paint. Oil based paint takes longer to dry, but the final product is usually even.
Water based paint will also do the trick, but you’ll have to be more mindful of your painting technique to achieve an even application. Once your paint is dry, remove the painter’s tape and enjoy your rejuvenated trim!