How to Paint The Trim: A Step-By-Step Guide

The wood trim around your floors and walls often takes a beating, which means you will probably need to repair and repaint it at some point. Here are the steps required to properly paint the trim in your home, if you are going to undertake this task on your own.

Step 1: Clean It

Before doing anything else, clean all dirt from the trim. Use a rough sponge, if necessary, to remove all grime from it.

Step 2: Sand It

If the trim is already smooth, lightly sand using 120-grit sandpaper. If the trim is rough, sand first with 80-grit sandpaper, and finish with 120-grit to smooth the surface. You want to sand until all shine is removed from the trim. Then, wipe away any resulting dust with a damp sponge.

Step 3: Fill It

Use a lightweight spackling compound to fill in any dents or cracks in the trim. After the spackle dries, sand it using 120-grit sandpaper. Then, remove dust with a dry cloth.

Step 4: Tape It

Apply painter’s tape to walls surrounding the trim. You may want to dust off the walls first, so that the tape will stick to them. Use long strips of tape, instead of short pieces, as this will prevent paint from bleeding through.

Step 5: Press It

Press the edges of the tape down with your spackling knife to help it adhere to the walls and keep paint from bleeding through the edges.

Step 6: Prime It

Use a short-handled, angled brush to apply primer to the trim, completely covering it. Then, wait at least 24 hours for the primer to dry. After it is dry, check to see if any spackle or bare wood is showing. If so, apply another coat of primer. Repeat until all wood and spackle is covered.

Step 7: Re-sand It

Once the last coat of primer is dry, sand the trim again with 120-grit sandpaper to get rid of any paint drips. Remove the sanding dust with a damp cloth.

Step 8: Paint It

Mix the paint thoroughly with a paint stick to eliminate bubbles and get the paint smooth. Then pour a small amount into a paint tray. Dip your angled brush into the poured paint, using the tray’s side to wipe of any excess, so that you can avoid drips. Then, apply the paint to the trim using horizontal brush strokes. Paint until you have a few feet of trim painted, but not the whole length of the trim.

Step 9: Smooth It

Without adding more paint to your brush, smooth your short brush strokes together with one long brush stroke. Keep repeating until the section you are painting looks smooth.

Step 10: Finish It

Paint the next section in the same way, using steps 8 and 9. Keep repeating until all the trim is completely painted. Remove the painter’s tape before the paint dries.

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