Tips for Painting Baseboards and Trim - Home Decorating & Painting Advice

Tips for Painting Baseboards and Trim

Painting baseboards and trim are great ways to update your home. Whether you’re going from one color to another, bare wood to painted, or just applying a fresh new coat of white paint, here are some tips and tricks to help you get great results!

If the trim hasn’t been painted before, you’ll need to use a good-quality primer.

The “paint and primer in one” options available these days are wonderful for walls, but I would still go with a dedicated primer for something that will see so much wear and tear.

If your trim already has a coat of paint on it, a separate coat of primer is only needed in certain circumstances:

  1. If you’re dramatically changing the color. White primer will work if you’re switching to white or light colors, and you can have primer tinted to approximately match for darker shades.
  2. If you’re trying to put a latex paint over an oil-based paint. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and test the existing paint. If it comes off, it’s latex. If not, you’ll need to use a water-based bonding primer, and you can then follow up with the paint of your choice.
  3. If the existing paint is in bad shape. You'll need to scrape away any loose, flaking paint, fill holes with wood filler and sand before priming to ensure a good base surface for your paint to adhere to.

Once you’re ready to prime and/or paint, the process is the same.

Start by making sure your trim is clean and dry, with no loose paint, holes, dirt or dust. If you’re unsure of your ability to get a crisp, clean line when painting freehand with a brush, you can use painters tape along the edges.

You’ll only need one coat of primer, but plan on applying two (possibly three) coats of paint when painting baseboards and trim, and be sure to let each coat dry thoroughly before moving onto the next. Finally, choose a gloss or semi-gloss paint sheen to ensure durability, and you’ll have updated, beautiful trim that will last for years to come!