How to paint trim

Home Depot

Enlivening interiors or exteriors can be as easy as painting trim. And you have two options -- either apply an accent color that complements the main colors of your wall and ceiling surfaces, or paint your trim white to embolden and emphasize the other colors. Typically, working with trim requires a paintbrush and takes longer than painting large surfaces such as walls. But don't rush -- it's worth the patience.

You should have angled, square-edge and oval paintbrushes handy to tackle sharp edges along with flat and tight trim areas.Tape the borders of all trim to avoid splattering paint on the walls of the room. Place a dropcloth down to avoid getting paint spatter on your floors or floor covering. And protect yourself from harmful paint vapors with a mask or respirator.

Painting the room and trim yourself is a great way to reduce the cost of your project. Consider obtaining paint samples before purchasing a large amount of paint to ensure that the color is a match for your walls.

Tools and Materials:

  • Paintbrushes including 2" trim brush
  • Flat wallboard knife
  • Putty knife
  • Painter's masking tape
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Rags and sponges
  • Scrub pad
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paint scraper
  • Denatured alcohol or paint deglosser
  • White-pigmented shellac primer
  • Paintable caulk or glazing compound
  • Lightweight spackling compound
  • 80-grit and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Interior stain-blocking primer
  • Interior paint

Step 1. Clean woodwork with a TSP solution. Use a plastic scrub pad to remove residue from the trim. Make sure to wear rubber gloves and rinse several times. Remove blistered or chipped paint with a paint scraper, avoiding gouging the wood. Sand with 80-grit and then 220-grit sandpaper. Remove dust with a lint-free cloth.


Step 2. Fill gaps and cracks with paintable caulk or glazing compound. Remove the excess and smooth the joint with your finger. Fill holes and gouges with lightweight spackling compound. Remove the excess material with the edge of a putty knife and let it dry. Sand lightly if necessary.


Step 3. Spot prime any knots or resin pockets with white-pigmented shellac primer. Let the primer dry, and then begin masking all adjacent surfaces with blue painter's masking tape. Be sure to seal the edges firmly. Wipe down the surface with denatured alcohol or a paint deglosser, and then prime the entire surface with a stain-blocking primer.


Step 4. Apply the finish coat. After 24 hours, sand with 220-grit sandpaper and wipe the sanded surface with a damp sponge or rag. Apply the finish coat of paint with a 2" trim brush. Remove the masking tape while the paint is still wet.

Need some expert assistance? Visit your local Home Depot store to ask associates about products or how-to instructions. The Home Depot expert associates are also available to answer your questions online.

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