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How to Paint Trim the Right Way Every Time

When painting the interior of your home, you will be faced with the challenge of painting the trim. This is not an easy task and we recommended hiring a professional painter to do the job. However, if you are motivated to do it yourself, the information below will help you do it correctly.


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Step 1: Prepare the Room You are Painting


Organization is essential to any painting project and painting the trim is no exception. Take the time and steps necessary to help the project become a success. You’ll want to clear out furniture or anything else in the room that could be in your way. You also want to protect your floors or carpets before you begin.


Step 2: Prepare the Trim Itself


The next step is to prepare the trim for painting. Take a clean, damp cloth or sponge and wipe down the trip to remove any residue. This could be more difficult if you are painting your kitchen, because of the potential grease build up from cooking. If need be, use a mild grease cleaner. Don’t be afraid to use the rough side of the cloth or sponge.


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Next, sand the trim until it is smooth and all rough patches have been removed. You want to get down to 120 - 140 grit sandpaper. This will not be a problem if your trim is relatively new or smooth. If needed, start with sandpaper with lower grit before finishing with the 120 grit sandpaper. After you have completed sanding the trim, be sure to wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove the dust.

Tip: For best results, fold sandpaper or use a sanding block when sanding flat surfaces. A sanding sponge can be used when the surface is curved.


Now it is time to fill in any holes or imperfections in the trim. You will want to use lightweight spackle. As spackle application methods vary, be sure to read the instructions on the back of the can. Pay particular attention to how long it will take for the spackle to dry.


After allowing the appropriate drying time, sand the spackle to ensure it is nice and smooth. 120 - 140 grit sandpaper should work just fine here. Once again, wipe down the trip with a clean cloth to remove any dust.


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You can now start to place painter’s tape to the areas around the trim, including the ceilings and walls. Whenever possible, use longer pieces of tape instead of shorter ones. This will help stop the paint from getting through the seams created by using shorter pieces and it will make it easier to remove the tape when you are finished. Be sure to firmly press the tape into the wall or ceiling, especially along the edge of the tape that meets the trim. This will help stop the paint from getting to the trim.


Tip: Pull about 3 - 4 inches of tape out from the roll to get started and firmly press the tape into the wall. Then, continue to pull the roll out at approximately six inch lengths as you hold the tape that has already been applied to the wall in place.


Tip: Wipe down the ceiling and walls where you will apply the tape. This will help the tape stick.


Step 3: Apply Primer to the Trim


Now you have competed preparing the trim and it is time to start priming. Apply the primer to the trim using a brush or small roller. Try to work in approximately 2 - 3 foot sections where you completely prime each section before moving to the next section. It is important to allow the primer to dry for at least 24 hours.

Tip: Using a small roller of 2 - 4 inches can speed up the time it takes to prime the trim.

One coat of primer should be enough. However, after the first coat has completely dried, you want to inspect the trim and look for any missed spots or exposed spackle. If you find any, you want to apply a second coat of paint and again allow it to dry for 24 hours.


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Once the primer is completely dry, the trim should be sanded with the same 120 grit sandpaper. This will help ensure it is smooth and all imperfections have been removed. Again, use your damp cloth or sponge to clear away any dust.

Step 4: Apply the Paint to the Trim

Now you are ready to paint the trim. Be sure to thoroughly mix the paint. You can use an angled brush or a small high density foam roller to apply the paint to the trim. Using the roller will speed up the time it takes to apply the paint.

Whether you are using a brush or a roller, work in 2 - 3 foot sections just as you did when applying the primer. You want to completely paint each section before moving to the next section. Use short strokes to ensure each section is completely painted, then finish each section with long strokes to provide a smooth quality appearance.

Tip: Do not put too much paint on the brush or roller to avoid drip marks.

After you have painted all of the trim in the room, you can remove the painter’s tape by slowly pulling it from the ceiling or wall at a 45 degree angle. You want to do this while the paint is still wet.


Now you have complete your painting project and it is time to enjoy your freshly painted trim.


Painter Patch is your source for quality painters in the NYC area for all your painting needs. Check out our services and the areas we serve.


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