Choosing the Best Type of Paint for Your Wood Trim

Painting old, white, wood trim with a new off-white paint.

Wood trim is a decorative element that helps unify your rooms. You can have some at the top and bottom of the wall but you can also use it to frame out doors and internal windows. Though it often looks great natural or stained, there may be cause to paint it if you need it to match the color of your walls. The kind of paint you use directly impacts the finished product and how it interacts with the rest of the decor and colors of your home. The article that follows will help you choose which paint is best suited for your wood trim.

Interior vs. Exterior Wood Trim

The first consideration is whether the wood trim in in the interior or exterior of the house. If it is located outside the home, it will be subjected to the elements. Rain, snow, wind, and heat will all conspire to deteriorate the wood and the paint applied to it. To protect that kind of trim as much as possible, use exterior paint, which is formulated to withstand the elements.

If the wood you want to be painted is inside the house, a water-based paint will be the safest paint to use. Exterior paint, such as acrylic and enamel, is overkill for an interior painting job. The only time you want to use an exterior paint on interior wood trim is when you need a glossy and durable finish in an area where it will be under a lot of stress.

Detailed Wood Trim

Wood trim, or molding, can be very decorative and ornate or simple and contemporary. Simple designs are easier to paint because there are no details to worry about, but this is obviously not the case with detailed patterns. To properly paint decorative wood trim, you will need a paint that is somewhat thinner to reach into the recesses and grooves. Water-based paints are thinner than oil-based paints so they will work better. If, however, you want to have a shiny surface, you may use an oil-based paint that is slightly thinned out with mineral spirits.

Kitchen Details

If you are adding wood trim to the entire home, then you have to include the kitchen or else you will interrupt the flow. However, painting wood trim in the kitchen comes with some special circumstances. There typically is more moisture in the kitchen as well as a potential for steam and splatters of food and oil. For this reason, you should consider an oil-based paint because it dries hard, has a shine to it, and can be easily wiped off with a sponge soaked with mineral spirits. Water-based paint can easily peel away with repeated exposure water and steam. You just need to match the shade and shine of the paint of the rest of the house if you use a different paint.

Baseboard Wood Trim

Wood trim can also be used on the floor. If you use baseboard trim, there is more than one paint option. An oil-based paint dries slower than water-based paints which gives you more time to brush it over the area. Water-based paint, however, is easier to clean and more eco-friendly.