How to Paint Wood Trim: This is the post I wish I had read before I had decided to paint all the oak trim. Below, I will detail exactly how to paint oak trim and tell you what does and doesn’t work so you can save the headache of HOURS of painting.
I have now painted the walls and the oak trim in two bedrooms (B’s bedroom and Jack’s nursery), the dining room, living room, family room, kitchen & eating area, and front hallway. That is a TON of hours of painting so many that I do not want to add it up. So learn from my mistakes!
HOW TO PAINT OAK TRIM
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- Wood Filler
- (optional) use only if you need to repair holes in the trim from nails
- you want to use a good primer, after making the mistake and using another one I ALWAYS use Zinsser Smart Prime–it is no to low VOC and covers the best
- I always use Benjamin Moore Semi-Gloss Natura in Simply White
- Paint Brush- use a 3″ angled trim brush
- I use this one (Purdy 3″ angle)
- Paint Trim Guard
- I use Red Devil 18″ Dual Edge Painter’s Edge Guard (You are going to want this if you have wall-to-wall carpeting or hardwood floors that you want to protect. I use it along with Painter’s Tape to ensure that I don’t have drips on my floor.
So first, let’s talk about supplies. I prefer zero VOC paint because I have littles in the house (2 yr old and 8 month old), have been pregnant for a lot of the painting, and because I want to make my house the healthiest that it can. I use Benjamin Moore Natura eggshell on all the walls, and Benjamin Moore Natura semi-gloss on all of the trim. I have tried Behr’s low VOC paint but it got sticky really fast and I don’t think it covered as well. You are going to want a really good primer. After talking to our paint store guy, he recommended oil paint to cover oak trim. Well, I wasn’t having all those fumes in my house, so I asked him about zero-VOC alternatives. After a diatribe about how paint fumes really don’t matter–NEWSFLASH THEY DO! He recommended Zinnsser’s Smart Prime. It primes significantly better than Zinsser’s 1-2-3 Prime which is Low-VOC. I used 1-2-3 on the windows in our living room and it resulted in me having to do six coats (2 coats primer + 4 coats semi-gloss) which when you are doing 15 pane windows and six of them is a lot of extra time. Invest in a good primer and paint and it will save you time.
You do not need to sand but if you have a really glossy or freshly varnished surface you should sand it first. I didn’t need to sand because the gloss was pretty worn off on most of our trim and windows. However, there were were a few places in our kitchen that were newly varnished and I did have to sand there. The primer would pill up like oil and water.
Plan on doing TWO coats of primer. You want to make sure that there is really good stain-blocking coverage. The primer’s job is two-part: (1) adherence and (2) stain-blocking. After the first coat (make sure to get enough on it, wait at least 30 minutes and do another coat. The primer is much cheaper than the semi-gloss ($19.75/ gal vs. $48/ gal) so it is more economical to do two coats of primer instead of an additional coat of semi-gloss. I found that two coats of semi-gloss was sufficient.
I like doing the trim first and then go back and doing all the walls. The trim is the most time-consuming part hands down. So here are some tips on common problems when painting trim:
1.) How to paint a baseboard over carpet
Use this handy tool (a paint shield) to pull back the carpet away from the baseboard. Between coats, you will want to pull the carpet away with the wedge. You are going to get some paint on the carpet but no one will ever notice but you. One caveat: make sure your shield is clean. Keep the edge that faces the wall clean. Wipe it down every time if necessary.
2.) How to paint a baseboard and toe-kick over hardwood floor
You are going to use the same paint shield here as well in addition to painting tape. The first time I did this was in the kitchen. I relied on just tape and I wish I didn’t. Even with expensive Frog Tape, we had bleed through which seriously undermines the professional look you want. Instead, use BOTH tape and a wedge. Position the shield under the toe kick so you create a nice clean edge. If you happen to get some paint on it then the tape is there. Consider the tape your Plan B.
3.) How to paint a glass paned windows or mullions.
Painting the 15-pane windows takes probably 75% of the time spent painting. It is no joke. However, you can save yourself a lot of time with this tip. Instead of taping (which is never going to be 100% guaranteed) paint it well (don’t go crazy but don’t worry about getting some on the glass.) After all the coats are on, let it sit for at least half a day. Then, spray it with Windex and literally scrape it off with a razor blade. The windex loosens the bond between the glass and the paint. For some reason it doesn’t affect the bond between the wood and the paint. Consider it a miracle. Before long, you will be bragging about the miracles of Windex just like in the movie, Our Big Fat Greek Wedding.