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Change the Look of Outdated Trim

Posted on Mar 30, 2012 in Home Projects | Comments Off

When we bought our home all the trim was dark and damaged.  Generally I like the look of stained wood trim, but in some cases it is necessary to paint over it.  Changing trim to white (I like the color ‘Alabaster’ by Sherwin Williams) or a glossy black can really change the way your whole room looks.  I spent so many hours redoing ALL the trim in our entire house that cumulatively it was probably a couple weeks of time that I refinished the floor, window, and door trim.

It is important that you use an enamel paint for durability.  I like to work with latex instead of oil based paint.  It’s easier to clean up and you don’t have as many harsh fumes.

What you’ll need:

  • Sandpaper or sanding blocks
  • A good angled paintbrush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer
  • Enamel paint, I prefer the look of semi-gloss

Here is an example of the trim before and after.  This is our upstairs hallway.


  1. Sand the trim in order to smooth out the wood and remove any previous shine from polyurethane
  2. Wipe the trim clean with a damp cloth
  3. Use painter’s tape to mask off the end of the trim (if you are painting trim that is on carpeted floors you will need to remove the trim, paint it, and renail it back on the wall)
  4. Apply 1 coat of primer
  5. Apply 1 coat of enamel.  Use a good amount of paint, but make sure it doesn’t drip and run.
  6. Remove the painter’s tape after your 1st coat of enamel.  This will prevent the paint from drying to the tape and then pulling off the trim when you remove the tape. *if paint does dry to tape – take a knife and score along the edge of the trim before removing the tape
  7. After the 1st coat of enamel is dry, apply a 2nd coat. You can be more sparing with it and don’t have to go to the edge (there isn’t tape anymore!)
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