Paint Your Trim and Freshen Your Interior Design

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What You'll Need
Drop cloth
Paint scraper
Paint thinner
Painter’s tape
1 or more gallons interior paint/primer
2-inch paintbrushes

Painting trim makes wall colors pop. The trim accents everything, and with a fresh coat of paint it will all look cleaner and newer. It’s not always an easy project, but it is an uncomplicated one. Work on one area of the home at a time to give each room a mini-makeover. Paint the trim around the floor, windows, and doors to get a matched look, and if you have chair rails and crown molding, paint them as well.

Step 1 - Choose the Color

Trim colors don’t follow any standard; you can choose any shade you like. Pick different colors to match the existing themes of each room. A color that accents the walls will create a cohesive look while choosing a contrasting shade to make the colors look bolder and brighter. Pick white or off-white if you want to make the walls stand out more and give the whole room a cleaner look.

Step 2 - Clear the Walls and Protect the Room

Move all furniture and cords at least 24 inches away from the wall so you can access the trim. You don’t want to start painting and then stop to re-arrange the room. If necessary, move items out of the room entirely to give yourself enough space to work.

Place drop cloths over everything to keep paint off flooring and furnishings while you work.

Tip: If you don’t have a drop cloth big enough to cover the entire floor, place one on the floor beneath one wall at a time, moving it as you complete each wall.

Step 3 - Clean and Prep

taping off baseboard for painting

Before painting the trim, peeling existing paint or stain must be removed. This can be done with a paint scraper, but keep your touch gentle. Using the scraper with too much force will create nicks and dings in the trim.

Apply non-toxic paint thinner to the trim first with a clean brush to make paint removal easier. Scrape it and the paint away at the same time.

Use sandpaper to remove last traces of paint or stain. Clean all the trim with a wet cloth after it’s been sanded to remove any dust, as this will create problems when painting if not removed. Finally, look for any cracks or holes in the trim and fill them with caulk and/or spackle, and allow that to dry. You will need to give these spots a once-over with your sandpaper as well to make sure everything looks smooth and uniform. Clean up the trim again and make sure everything is dry before you begin painting.

Step 4 - Tape

Use blue painter’s tape and carefully place it on the walls, just above the trim, so you can keep the trim color from getting on your walls. Painting your trim is all about precision and detail, so take your time to make the tape even, straight, and wrinkle free. A good job here makes all the difference.

Step 5 - Prime and Paint

peeling tape away from painted baseboard

Use a brush to apply your primer, and allow that to dry completely before painting on the trim color. A 2-inch brush should be wide enough for the trim; any wider and you may paint the floor and wall as well. You can also get a primer-and-paint blend in order to eliminate a step here.

Tip: Allow trim to dry completely before you decide whether to apply a second coat. Paint always looks different when it dries.

Step 6 - Finish

Remove the tape while the paint is still wet to avoid creating chips. Pull the tape from the wall very slowly; otherwise, you may damage the wall beneath the tape.

Paint trim in one area of the home at a time, and in a few days (or a few weekends) everything will look fresher and more colorful. You won’t need a lot of paint to cover all the trim in your home, but you will get a lot of “wow” factor for what you spend on the project.