Painting the trim on the inside of your house is easier than you think! The key to great looking interior trim painting is all in the preparatory work. If you take an hour or so (depending on the size of the painting job) to prepare the room, you’ll definitely notice the result. Ever see the trim paint color smeared onto the main part of the wall? Or notice a conveniently placed rug where paint dripped onto the carpet? In my most recent house, there was about a half inch gap between the bottom of the new trim paint and the floor, where the old trim paint was clearly visible. Avoid these common trim painting mistakes, and take the time to prep the room!
First, remove any nails, screws, or anything else protruding from the trim you intend to paint. If the previous coat of paint is flaking or uneven, scrape as much of it off as you can. Sand to smooth, if necessary. Remember any bump or divot will only be more visible with paint. Clean the trim with any all purpose cleaner.
The best tool for prepping for interior trim painting is the common blue painter’s tape. Painter’s tape is designed to stick lightly to surfaces that you don’t want to paint, but peel off easily enough that it won’t take any of the finish or paint with it. It is absolutely essential for edging work, like painting trim. Don’t skimp and get the cheapest brand at the store – that tape will not stick to anything. Also, be honest about your painting skill. If you know you have trouble staying between the lines, get the thicker tape. Line your trim area with the painting tape, covering everything adjacent to your trim that you do not want to get paint on. Decide the plan for electrical outlets that might intersect with your trim. Are they going to be painted the same color as the trim, or remain their original color? If you’re not painting them, cover them completely with painter’s tape. The more detailed and meticulous you are about this one step, the easier your trim painting experience will be later.
The next thing you need to prepare the room are drop cloths. You can buy plastic cloths from the store or use trash bags. You should overlap the drop cloths at the seams. Place them as close to the edge of the trim as possible, and secure with masking or painter’s tape, so that the tape is right where the floor meets the trim. Again, diligence in this aspect of preparation will save you much heartache later. Ideally, if you are painting a room with carpet, you would take the carpet up around the trim areas in order to paint the trim. Or you would remove the trim completely, paint it, and nail it back to the wall. However, that is not always feasible. You should do your best to push the pile of the carpet down as much as possible and secure with drop cloth and tape. Make sure the tape is snug on the carpet and won’t slip, and also that it lines the base of the trim with no gaps.
If there is no existing coat of paint on your trim, you will need to use a primer, so that your paint will stick to your wood. Now you’re ready to paint! Half-sized rollers are a good size and provide a smooth finish for your trim, but you might need to use brushes on corners. Here you either need to use a very high quality, fine bristled paintbrush, or a very cheap foam version. The foam brushes will fall apart quickly, but they can mimic the smooth finish of a roller in hard to reach places. If you use a brush when painting your trim, keep the bristles very wet to avoid brush marks.
Remember t o always paint in a well-ventilated area. For more details on painting interior trim, and for pictures demonstrating techniques described above, I recommend House Painting Info.com.