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How To Paint Trim

Painting trim might seem like a daunting and frustrating task, but if you know what you are doing, it’s actually quite easy.  You might even decide after it’s all done, that it’s the easiest to paint out of all the spaces (ceiling, wainscoting, chair rails, walls, etc), but you can be the judge of that.  Below you will find steps to go about this, as well as a list of painter’s supplies that you will need.  You will also find a variety of tips along the way to make the project even easier for you.  One of the main issues you want to consider is the dirt, dust and grime on the trim – this absolutely needs to be cleaned, if not, the paint won’t adhere correctly or you will have particles of dirt and dust mixed in with the paint which looks just awful.

Supplies you need:

Painter’s tape
Sherwin-Williams interior primer such as Premium Wall and Wood Primer
Sherwin-Williams interior latex paint (semi-gloss or high-gloss finish)
One damp sponge
Tack cloth
Sandpaper (120-grit, 100-grit and 80-grit)
Spackle
Spackling or putty knife
Paint trays
Paint sticks
Purdy paint brushes (2-inch angled brushes)

You can, of course, use different primer, paint and tool brands, but for this we used Sherwin Williams.

Step 1 – Prepare The Trim

As mentioned above, it’s of the utmost important that you clean all of your trim very well.  This might seem like a time consuming task if you have a lot of trim, but you could always get a buddy to help you out.  Simply take a damp sponge and clean the trim – this includes any nooks and crannies, around and in the edges, and the part closest to the wall.  If the trim is super dirty, you can also use the other side of the sponge to keep from tracking dirt all over the place!

Step 2 – Sanding

Sand the surface of the trim.  *Note: If the trim paint is new or it’s already a smooth texture, you should be using gentler sandpaper, try for 120 grit until the shininess disappears from the trim.  On the other hand, if you have old, coarse or worn trim, you will want to try 80 grit and move your way up from there.  Once you have sanded the entire trim, then use a new sponge or clean that old one, and wipe down the surface again to remove any dust.

Step 3 – Fill In The Holes!

If you have any holes, cracks, dents or any other cosmetic damage, fill in those cracks with a spackling compound, it should be lightweight.  Once you spackle all of the areas that need spackled, you can then use 120 grit sandpaper to smooth it down.  Next, you should be using tack cloth, which can be found in any painter or home improvement store, and use that to remove any dust from the spackling compound.

Step 4 – Apply The Painters Tape

This is one of those things, where if you’ve never done it before, you might need to do it twice because it’s sort of like a puzzle.  The thing you want o remember here is that the painters tape is not for the trim, it’s for everything around the trim where you don’t want the paint to go – for example, on the walls, the flooring, or for example if you want your hardware on the inside of the trim to stay as is you can use painters tape to keep all of these free from paint.  Make sure the painters tape doesn’t go on the trim because if it does, you will obviously be building a barrier against the trim from the paint and once you take the tape off, you will have a bunch of naked spots with no paint!  Taping Note:  You shouldn’t be using large strips of the tape, just 3-5 inches worth so you can work with it accordingly.  Once you add all of the tape to the parts you need to, you can then take a putty knife and press it into the edges to ensure adhesion.

Paint The Trim

The portion above is where all the work is, the next part is the fun part.  First you need to add the primer.  This will need to go on all the trim you intend on painting, as well as the areas that you spackled.  The primer will need to dry for 24 hours.  But, once those 24 hours are up you can begin to paint.  You should apply the paint using small strokes.  This isn’t a big surface area like a wall or a ceiling, so you don’t need those big wide strokes.  Just short side sweeps until a few portions of the trim are covered.  Once you do the short strokes, you can then do a longer stroke over the previously placed short strokes to ensure properly evenness.

Before the paint dries you can then take the painters tape off of the walls. Some people say to do this quick like ripping off a band aid while others say to do it slow.  I say, slow and steady wins the race.  Make sure the paint is of good quality though because whether you do it quick or so if it’s a cheaply made tape, you will spend more time picking at it to get it off the wall than to just do it in one fell swoop.

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