Pro Tips for Perfect Trim

How to Get the Perfect Trim

Gather the Right Materials

First, you need to equip yourself with the right tools. Your arsenal should be outfitted with the following:

  • Painter’s tape
  • Angled brush
  • Foam roller
  • Primer
  • Paint (semi-gloss or high-gloss)
  • Sponge (with some water)
  • Sandpaper (80, 100, and 120-grit variants)
  • Microfiber tack cloth

Prepare the Area

Though trim painting isn’t as large a project as painting the walls of an entire room, it still pays to prepare your work area just as you would any other interior paint job. This means you should clear the area from any furniture or other moveable objects and lay down drop cloths to prevent paint from landing on your floors. Make sure you dress appropriately as well so you don’t end up getting paint on clothing you care about.

Sand Your Trim Down

Now, it’s time to start working on the trim. Use your low-grit sandpaper to remove old, loose paint. Once you’ve gone over the trim with your coarse sandpaper, use your higher-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surfaces.

Make Minor Repairs

During and/or after the sanding process, take the time to address any areas that need repairing. Holes and cracks should be filled and gaps between the trim and the wall or floor should be sealed with caulk. All repaired areas should be left to dry and then sanded again so the trim remains smooth across the board.

Clean Your Trim

After you’ve fixed up and thoroughly sanded your trim, you’ll want to pick up any dust and other loose particles with your microfiber cloth. Then, lightly wet your sponge and wipe down the trim so the surface is nice and clean.

Apply Painter’s Tape

No matter the project, painter’s tape is a staple for interior house painters, and it’s especially useful for painting trim. The tape should be carefully applied in a flat, straight line between the trim and the wall -- this will ensure that you achieve sharp, level paint lines and that paint doesn’t end up underneath the tape. Applying painter’s tape to trim adjacent to carpeting can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. In this scenario, make sure the tape is tucked in between the carpet fibers and the trim.

Prime Your Trim

At this point, professional interior painting services will begin to coat the trim. Before applying the paint, however, they will apply at least one coat of primer (two coats may be necessary if the wood is particularly dark and showing through the initial coat). Regardless, the final coat of primer must then be left to dry for at least 24 hours. After that, it’s a good idea to lightly sand and dust the trim one more time before painting. 

Choose the Right Finish For Your Trim and Paint

Selecting the right type of paint will always be one of the major challenges of house painting. Fortunately, when it comes to selecting a finish, most trim paint decisions boil down to semi-gloss or high-gloss paint. Either option is viable, though you might lean more or less to one side depending on the level of activity near your trim. For instance, high-gloss paint is usually best for high-traffic rooms because it’s less susceptible to scuffs, more durable overall, and easier to clean. Semi-gloss is usually best for low-traffic rooms and hides surface imperfections a bit better.

Paint with Proper Technique 

Now that it’s finally time to paint, be mindful of your technique. Most local interior painters will recommend starting with short brushstrokes, moving along the trim a few feet at a time and maintaining a wet edge to ensure proper blending. While the painted section is still wet, go over your work with a small, dry foam roller to further even out the coat. Repeat these steps until all the trim has been painted.

Remove Painter’s Tape

Finally, carefully take off your painter’s tape while the paint is still wet -- doing this after the paint has dried runs the risk of removing some of the paint with the tape.

Paint Your Trim Like a Pro

Properly painting your trim is important, and with the proper tools and techniques, anyone can achieve excellent results. That said, if you’re not confident in your trim painting abilities, the experts at Endure Painting are here to help you transform your interior spaces. For more information regarding our skills and services, call us at (510) 458-2120 or send us an email at

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