Monday, June 21, 2010

The Painting of the Trim

I posted a few days ago about my relationship with my current house and the need for updated white trim. I dove into that task and let me share a little bit about what I discovered.

Before I made the decision to paint the trim while it was on the wall, I investigated the idea of painting and installing brand new trim. I wanted a taller trim and I have a spray gun that would make the painting go very fast. I priced new trim and needless to say it didn't fit into the 'flip it in a few years' budget.

I then investigated the idea of removing the trim from the wall and painting it with the spray gun. Again, making this task a very quick one. I got VERY excited about this idea when I pulled the carpet back and found that I really do have taller trim. The carpenter who installed the trim actually did a no no and installed it flush with the subfloor. You should leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch gap to account for the carpet and pad. My excitement was quickly extinquished when I gently tried to remove the trim in two places and it split both times. That's when I decided painting it was the best option. I do plan to replace the doors. I have a really hard time with painted flat panel doors. CAN - NOT - DO - IT. Husband has new six panel doors ordered. :)

I will share that if our 'flip it in a few years' plans change and wood floors find their way to this house, the trim will have to be replaced because of its placement on the subfloor. I can only hope.

Back to the painting...

The first thing to know about painting anything is that 90% of the work is the preparation of the surface. We all read that. We all understand that. But doing it? I think a lot of you are like me and you just want it done and know that you'll probably be changing things up again in a few years so why bother to make it perfect. Am I right? Well, I really wanted to do this right. I know we'll be selling this house in a few years and I want things to not only look good but to be done well.

That decision had me spending a few hours calling professional painters, researching painting blogs and asking on professional forums. This is what I learned:

  1. Preparation is the key to a good looking job. Spend the time.
  2. Buy good quality primer, paint and brushes. Don't skimp on this one. You'll pay for it in a few months.
  3. Use Zinnser BIN primer. EVERY professional I talked to told me this. There must be something quite special about that formula.
  4. Don't rush it. Give every coat time to dry.
So with this information in hand, I purchased supplies and prepared for a two day project. This one room will be the starting point for an entire house project this summer. Sigh.

5 - 150 grit sponge sanding pads (to be able to reach the curves of the trim)
1 gallon of Zinnser BIN
TSP no rinse alternative
Acrylic Latex Caulk (I bought the quick dry)
Wood filler
Masking tape
1 gallon Dutch Boy Interior Semigloss in Ivory
1 good quality (like $15) paint brush for oil based paints (the BIN)
1 good quality (again $15) paint brush for latex paint

Remove doors and hinges. Patch any scratches or scrapes that will show once wood is painted. Typcially, when you have darker trim, scratches and gouges aren't seen. With painted trim, EVERYTHING is noticed. Spend some time on this task. Use a flashlight to shine on the trim while you move around on your knees. You'll notice a lot more this way. Use the caulk to fill any gaps between the trim and the wall. These will also be more noticable after the trim is painted.

Sand the patched areas and all other parts of the trim. Use your vacuum to remove dust and then use a tack cloth to remove any left over residue. I went the extra step that a number of professional recommended and that was to wipe the trim down with TSP. It is a specially formulated rinse to remove oil, grime and other things that make it difficult for paint to stick. There is a regular TSP that needs to be rinsed and there is a new NO RINSE TSP. Go with that one.

Step 3 TAPE
Tape off the carpet and any other areas you don't want painted. I planned on painting the walls so I didn't tape those. Taping my carpet was difficult because it is so plush and I spent a lot of time reading about the best way to do this. The best way, I was told, is to tape the trim as shown below and then push the tape under the trim using a flat edge. If your carpet isn't plush you may have an easier time with this task than I did.

Step 4 PRIME
Prime all trim surfaces using Zinnser BIN. This formula allows for any type of paint to adhere to the surface. Let dry at least 1 hour. The directions, and the professionals, say it will work on just about any surface. I'm excited to try this.

Step 5 PAINT
Paint all trim surfaces with latex paint. I chose a semi gloss in an Ivory from Dutch Boy. There are a bazillion different whites out there. If you're having a hard time choosing, go with the premixed white that most brands offer. My trim took three coats - YES THREE! I waiting 12 hours between each coat and it looks wonderful.

It was work but it was definitely worth it. It just makes me feel good to be in there now. Bright. New. Fresh. LOVE IT!


  1. I need to show my sister inlaw this! she has the same type of trim and is scared to paint it.

    Can't wait to see more!

  2. Thank you for the tutorial. I have put this off forever because it looks like it would be so labor intensive. I think I may try a room :)