Monday, December 2, 2013

How to Paint Trim [tutorial]

When I shared the results of updating the trim in our house room by room, many of you had questions about my process.  Rather than answer a bunch of emails with the same content, I'm going to put all my information in one handy dandy, easy to access post.  I'll warn you, it's oh-so-long... but hopefully helpful!

 Here we go...

Always tape the floor. (obviously). (Unless you are renovating and are updating trim before your new floors are installed.  If that's the case, then by all means, go commando with the tape :) )
To deal with carpeting. put the tape flush against the trim, sticky side facing you.   Then slide it down in between the trim and the carpeting, and the fold the sticky side over the carpet.  If you have thick carpeting or frieze like we do, use a piece of cardboard as you go to tamp down the carpet so you can get as much of the wood covered.  When you're done, fluff up the carpet to cover any uneven spots.

Unless you are planning to remove the doors (and subsequently the hinges) entirely, tape the hinges.
NEVER NEVER NEVER paint OVER the hinges.
I have a poor friend who is dealing with the aftermath of painted hinges from her home's previous owner and it's been tons of extra, unnecessary work.  Just tape and you'll be happy you did.

Taping the top of the trim is up to you.  I don't, for a couple reasons.  1, I want to make sure to get every inch of the top of the trim, since that's what people will see the absolute most of.  Sometimes tape can bring up pieces of your paint with it, and I want the edge to be as crisp as can be (and I'm not the world's best taper).

It should be noted that I only do this in rooms I'm either planning to paint the walls in, OR rooms where I have extra wall paint, so I can go over the trim excess with the wall color when I'm finished (you can see the overage in the photo)  If you do NOT have extra wall paint, and you do NOT plan on repainting the room, then suck it up and tape off the top of your trim.

Clean and Prep

Give all your trim a good scrub down with TSP.  Then go ahead and give it a nice sanding.  Do you have to sand down to bare wood?  Absolutely not.  BUT I am telling you, give it a light sanding.  If you don't, you're going to be cursing your trim in the future when you're constantly retouching scuffs and chips.  Sanding really helps.  Ask me how I know. ;)
After you sand, do another round of cleaning with TSP.
Let that dry, and you're ready to prime.

Use a stain-blocking primer.  Follow the directions on the can regarding dry time (different brands vary quite a bit).  You will want to do two coats.  do NOT use your best brushes for priming!
Primer is really tough to clean, and if you don't do it SUPER thoroughly, you will ruin your brushes!
(again, ask me how I know. ;) )
For priming, I buy a big value bag of the cheapo foam brushes, and then chuck them when I'm done.

Next up is paint.
Depending on what paint you use and how well it covers, you will need at least 2 coats.
If your trim is oak like mine, that's very grainy and will likely need 3 coats - paint gets sucked into the wood grain and it takes more to fill it.

My absolute favorite is Sherwin Williams' ProClassic Line.  It's developed specifically for trim and doors, and it goes on like buttah.
Regardless of what brand you use, make sure to choose a variety that is self-leveling; this minimizes the appearance of brush strokes, and saves you time and extra coats as things dry.

Make sure you allow plenty of dry-time in between coats.  I wait 24 hours.  Some people will say you don't need to wait that long, but in my experience your paint is A LOT more durable if it's had more time to dry and cure.  It will take about 2 weeks to FULLY cure, though, so keep that in mind when you're working in high-traffic areas.

Is it tedious?  A bit.
Can it be frustrating?  Messy?  Yep.
Is it worth it?  In my opinion, ABSOLUTELY.

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  1. Great post! I am cursing my chipping trim job that I rushed with a paint/primer in one and not enough prep work... argh. Wish I'd have read this first!

    I have a ton more trim to paint in my home so I'll be following these directions from here on out...

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. I get relavant information from your post.

  3. Thank you for sharing the knowledge and tips. It is so helpful and informative. Would love to see more.

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