Trim is often overlooked—but learning how to paint trim might mean the difference between a lovely home and a lackluster one.

By Christine Egan
May 31, 2019
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Figuring out how to paint trim—and actually taking the time to do it properly—may be one of the more time consuming parts of learning how to paint a room, but it’s also one of the most important. Trim—the added-on pieces of wood at the base or top of walls and around windows and doors—can quickly get dirty, faded, and chipped, and giving it a regular update can help a refreshed room or exterior keep its luster a little longer.

Trim can be the same color as the walls, or it can be a contrasting color to add more visual interest to the space. When painted and repainted regularly, trim can help give a room a polished look. On exteriors, cleanly painted trim around windows and doors is a major curb appeal booster; it’s also an often-neglected chore. With a little practice, though, it can become a relatively quick and painless home update with major impact.

Learning how to make all that happen is easy, too—it doesn’t take special paint brands or a lengthy painting supplies list. Successfully figuring out how to paint trim just takes a little focus, some decent brush control, and patience. Next, you just have to master painting corners.

How to paint trim

How to paint trim - Illustration of a person painting trim or molding

Arthur Mount

1. Wait until the walls and the ceiling are dry. Give them at least a full day.

2. Reverse tape by applying painter’s tape to the edges of the walls and the floor, leaving only molding and trim exposed. When painting a baseboard next to carpeting, protect the carpet with a plastic paint guide (about $2), a long, thin strip that wedges under the baseboard.

3. Use the tip of your brush to cut in toward the middle on the top and bottom of the molding. Then, with long brushstrokes, cover the space between.