icon What's the Best Way to Paint Trim White?

What's the Best Way to Paint Trim White?

Are you thinking about brightening the interior of your home?

The walls, floor, and ceiling tend to be the first items a homeowner changes. By lightening these areas with a fresh coat of paint or a new rug, you’re sure to brighten your home.

But have you thought about adding painted white trim to your home?

Your home’s trim, while subtle, can play a powerful role in bringing a room together. Learning the best way to paint trim white will brighten your home and make your trim look stunning.

Do you want to brighten your home with white trim? Here’s everything you need to know about painting your trim white.

The Benefits of White Trim

Trim consists of the wooden features accenting your doors, floors, and ceilings. Interior trim covers gaps and unsightly features while adding a splash of style to your room.

Choosing to paint the trim white is one of the most versatile ways to brighten a space. Not only will it make a space appear lighter, but it will also make your living room, bedrooms, and kitchen feel spacious and airy.

Interior door painted white with white trim and painted wood molding on the lower half of the walls.

Many contemporary homes use white trim to make windows and other features appear larger. The white trim makes a space feel warm and inviting.

One of the most noteworthy benefits of white trim is how it creates a timeless look that will never go out of style. You will find white trim works well in houses from all eras. You can enjoy painting the walls any color you like since white matches every color and style.

Homeowners love how white trim makes a room feel calm and serene. The white accentuates unique features in your home and can add a flair of glamour and sophistication.

Most homeowners find white to be the last color they'll ever paint their wood trim.

While painting your trim white is an excellent choice, there are a few tips you should follow to ensure it looks perfect.

What’s the Best Way To Paint Trim White?

There are a few ways you can go about painting your home’s trim white.

One option is to turn to professional painters. Those who are tight on time or don’t want to paint their trim themselves can benefit from professional help. Professional painters have the tools and skills to make your trim look stunning.

Hand holding a paint brush painting the trim of a door at an angle.

The more cost-effective option is to paint your trim yourself. It’s an easy process that will teach valuable painting skills and will save you money.

The best way to paint trim white is to find a process that’s cost-effective, fast, and easy. 

If you’re looking for a doable, yet, effective way to paint your trim white, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how you can create beautiful white trim on your own!

Gather Your Painting Supplies

Make your painting project as easy as possible by gathering all of your tools first. This will make your painting project go much faster and smoother.

Here are a few items you’ll need to prep and paint the surface of your trim:

  • White paint
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Caulk gun and white caulk
  • Wood putty
  • Paint scraper
  • Angle brush
  • Paint tray
  • Extra rags
  • Sandpaper of different grit levels

Depending on the type of paint you’re using, you will need:

  • Water-based primer and extra water for cleaning painting tools
  • Oil-based primer and mineral spirits for cleaning painting tools

Paint fumes and splatters will happen throughout the project. Protective tools such as gloves, ventilation, and eye protection will help protect you and your family.

The paintbrush or roller you use will make an impact on the final finish of your white trim. Make sure to invest in quality tools and paints if you want a white trim that appears flawless and lasts.

Prep Your room

The first step of any paint project is to prep the area where you're painting. If you’re planning to paint the walls and trim, start with the trim first.

Begin by spreading your drop cloth in place and taping it at the corners. This will protect your flooring from unwanted paint spills. Look for a drop cloth that has waterproofing for an extra layer of protection.

Hands using tape to tape of a corner of a wall.

Next, tape off the walls along the top of the baseboards and bottom of the crown molding. This will protect your walls from paint splatters and other prep work. If you're planning to paint your walls after the trim, you can choose to skip this step.

You may want to consider removing any doors and hardware along with the door trim. Removing extra hardware will make the painting process easier and faster as you won’t have to paint around various objects.

Prepping the Trim

Painting trim white is a trickier process than painting other surfaces in your home. It requires careful planning and the right prep work. You don’t want your finished trim to show streaks and traces of old paint layers. 

Heat gun and scrapper being used to pull paint off the trim of a window.

You will need to remove the old paint layers as these can ruin the final look and durability of the new white paint. Ideally, you should scrape and sand until you reach the original oak trim. Use a paint scraper or putty tool, sandpaper, and paint thinner to remove the paint.

Once you’ve removed the paint, repair holes and cracks in the wood trim with a caulk gun and wood putty as needed. After the caulk or putty dries, use fine-grit sandpaper to even out the surface of the trim.

With the trim prepped, you’re ready to paint the trim white.

Invest In High-Quality White Paint

The two main types of paint for painting your trim are oil-based and water-based. You will have to decide which type will work best for your trim needs.

Start by identifying the type of paint or varnish that is (or was) currently on your trim.

If the current coat of paint or varnish is oil-based, it may be in your best interest to stick to oil-based paints. A water-based or latex paint won’t adhere to oil-based paint. 

If the current stain or paint is water-based, you’ll have the flexibility of using water-based or oil-based paint.

Paint brush with white paint on it and next to it is a streak of paint.

How can you tell if the paint is water-based or oil-based? Test the paint by using denatured alcohol. Acrylic and water-based paints will dissolve and lift in the alcohol. Oil-based paints will remain unaffected unless you use a paint thinner or mineral spirits.

Both types of paints come in every color imaginable. Invest in a quality paint brand that offers a rich vibrant color and high pigmentation. Paint quality is important for white paint as white tends to need more coats compared to other paint colors.

You’ll have to decide which type of paint will work best for you and your project. If safety and quality are at the top of your list, choose a water-based paint. If you prefer a paint that’s long-lasting and offers a richer color, then oil-based paints might fit your needs better.

Invest In the Right Brush

The paintbrush or roller you choose will make a huge difference in how your trim will turn out.

Paint rollers will cover the most amount of space in the least amount of time and leave a streak-free finish. You can find them in small widths of around two to three inches for smaller projects.

The downside to rollers is they can’t fit in tiny or hard-to-reach areas like corners and joists. Those with narrower or highly detailed trim will find a roller more challenging to use.

Purdy clear cut paint brush
Image courtesy of Purdy

A paintbrush is the traditional painter’s tool due to its flexibility and ease of use. Paintbrushes come in many different sizes and materials. A few brush sizes to have on-hand include:

  • 2-inch brush
  • 1-inch brush
  • Smaller brushes for tiny details and cracks

The material of the brush will depend on the type of paint you’re using to paint your trim. Synthetic bristled brushes are best for water-based and latex paints. These brushes typically contain bristles made from nylon, polyester, or both.

Alkyd and oil-based paints work well with natural bristled brushes. Natural brushes contain animal bristles, usually from a hog or a badger. Avoid using natural bristled brushes with water-based paints as the water will cause the bristles to go limp from absorbing the water.

There are some synthetic brushes designed for use with both water-based and oil-based paints. Check the brush packaging to learn what paints are safe for your brush.

A quality brush will leave fewer streaks and brush strokes. This will save you time and make painting your trim a much easier and enjoyable process.

Pick Your Primer

Paint primer is an important step in nearly every painting project. Unfortunately, many homeowners and novice painters will overlook it. The best way to paint trim white is to start with a layer of quality primer.

You will have to choose the appropriate type of primer based on your paint. If you chose water-based paint, you’ll need a water-based primer. Those working with oil-based paint have the option of choosing water or an oil-based primer.

Sherwin Williams Multi-purpose Primer
Image courtesy of Sherwin Williams

Paint primer comes in many different colors, with white being the most popular. Adding a primer will give you a blank canvas for you to paint on. This will make your top coat of white paint appear bright and even.

The benefits of paint primer include better paint adherence, improved durability, and longevity. With the proper care, your white trim can look new for years.

Apply the Primer

You can apply the primer by using a brush or a roller, depending on the style and design of your trim. Using both tools can make priming your trim faster and easier.

Start by applying a single thin coat of primer to the trim. Try to keep the surface as smooth as possible. It's okay if a few brush strokes remain.

A single layer of primer will require about two to three coats of paint. Two layers of primer will require one to two coats of paint. If you have a limited amount of paint, using two coats of primer is a better idea.

Allow the primer to completely dry between layers and before you begin painting.

How To Paint Your Trim White

Now that you have prepped and primed your trim, you’re ready to start painting. Make sure you mix your paint well and have your brushes and rollers ready.

Start Painting

Apply the paint using an even amount of pressure to ensure the paint leaves an even top surface. You can avoid leaving brush strokes by painting in various directions and keeping the coats thinner.

Apply Multiple Coats

White paint will often require two or more coats of paint to appear even and flawless. Allow each coat to fully dry before adding the next. Painting on top of damp or moist paint can cause the bottom layer to bubble and peel away from the surface.

Allow the Paint To Dry

Let the paint completely dry before removing any tape or checking for missed areas. If everything looks good, carefully remove the painter’s tape using a straight edge to prevent the paint from peeling. Check the edges for any missed areas and use a small brush to touch up missed areas with the white paint.

Caulk the Trim

Give your trim a professional flair by adding a thin line of caulk between the wall and the trim.

Gently wipe the caulk down until a thin layer remains. The caulk will fill the gaps and create crisp beautiful edges.

Brighten Your Trim With a Fresh Coat of White Paint

Updating the color of your trim is a great way to brighten a room. White trim offers a classic timeless look you can’t achieve with any other color.

Learning the best way to paint trim white will ensure your new white trim looks perfect. By following this helpful guide, you’ll achieve gorgeous trim that you, your family, and your friends will love.

Do you want to redesign more than just your trim? Ask about my interior design services. I’d love to help you with all of your home design needs.

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