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How To Paint Doors, Door Frames, Window Frames, and Baseboards

How To Paint Doors, Door Frames, Window Frames, and Baseboards

You might be looking around your house and noticing that, while you’re happy with the main colours, some of the accents are showing their age: dingy frames, yellowing windowsills, peeling doors, or washed-out baseboards. Over time, these trim areas can fade and weather, turning once-bright areas dark and unappealing.

Fixing up trim can be a relatively quick and easy way to increase your home’s value and atmosphere, and will be instantly noticeable to any returning visitors to your home. Here are some tips to make sure that your new paint job lasts!

Prep Them Properly

Prepping is important on any paint job, but that’s doubly true for trim work. Exterior window and door frames, exterior doors, and other similar features are exposed to sweltering sun and biting cold, with plenty of moisture and airborne chemicals in between; inside, baseboards can be kicked and bumped, and handrails see some of the heaviest friction traffic above the floor. For these reasons, properly preparing the surface for paint is crucial to making the workmanship last.

Start by pressure washing the area (if it’s exterior), and then once dry, take a hand scraper to the surface. This is especially fun on windowsill bottoms, where water run-off and sun exposure will have taken the greatest toll, and you’ll get an idea of just how advanced the peeling is. Scrape liberally, getting off any flakes of loose paint or wood.

Next, take some sandpaper and wrap it around a sanding block the grit will depend on the surface; exterior trim generally needs 60-80, while interior is around 80-120, so use your discretion. Sand down all the rough surfaces, checking periodically with your fingertips to test the smoothness. You shouldn’t be able to lift any old paint chips at this point, or drastically feel a change in the surface. If you do, keep scraping and sanding until it’s smooth. Wipe the surface with a wet rag when you’re done to remove excess dust and debris.

Have you ever used a caulking gun? If not, now’s your chance! Caulking is used to seal up nail holes, the gaps between siding and the trim, baseboards and the wall, joints in a frame, etc., and is instrumental in keeping moisture out of the inner areas. It can be tricky if you’re a beginner, so here’s a handy tutorial if you need some advice.

Sometimes, depending on the job, you’ll need to tape off sections, or cover areas with plastic or paper (like window glass, door hardware, and so on). If you haven’t already done this, now is the time before you get into the priming and painting.

Then, it’s prime time! Using a small roller or a brush, apply a coat of primer to bare wood (if the trim is vinyl, you can skip this part). This will ensure the overlying coats of paint will stick properly, even through the toughest conditions.

Once the primer is dry you’re finally ready to paint. Whew!

Breaking Out The Paint

Trim is usually painted with semi- or high-gloss paint, to really maximize the accent colour and give it a lustrous shine when viewed next to the finished walls or siding. Be sure to choose a paint that’s suited to the environment interior/exterior; moisture protection; high washability, etc.

Depending on the job, you may be spraying or using a brush and roller. If parts like baseboards are not yet up on the wall, it can be relatively simple to do the priming and first coat in one long, fluid motion (but don’t forget that you’ll have to fill the nail holes and do the second coat once they’ve been installed). For other areas, like window frames, the exact order of painting will depend on whether the surrounding surface is also being painted and the method of application each job is a little bit different, so remember to plan ahead in order to minimize doubling back on work you’ve already done.

Be sure to always use drop sheets when you’re working, and keep a wet rag handy to fix any errors before they dry!

Cleaning Up

Hopefully, by now you’ve mastered the ancient art of painting trim, and are ready to clean up and put everything away. Put the remaining paint into as few cans as possible, and clearly label them with the date, area being painted, and address for future reference. If you used latex paint, you can wash out brushes and rollers with simple soap and water (fan out the bristles and use pressure on them until the water runs clear), but you’ll need some paint thinner if you tackled the job with an alkyd-based product.

When removing tape from glass or hardware, use a sharp Xacto knife to carefully cut through the dried paint along the desired lines, in order to prevent the tape from pulling up the new paint. Believe us, it’s much easier to cut the tape first than to try and fix a big rip along the edge of a paint job!

All the paint chips, wood chunks, and paint splatters should have landed safely on the drop sheet or plastic that’s on the floor/ground. Carefully dispose of them and use a vacuum or broom to get any stragglers that may have escaped. Use a clean wet rag to wipe up the floor (if indoors) and do a final check for paint droplets.

Put away all the tools and move any furniture back to its place once the trim is dry, and enjoy a well-deserved rest. You did it!

Don’t Have The Time?

Painting is a trade that may look easy, but has much more to it than just slapping some paint on a surface. As professional painters, we’re highly trained experts who know how to get a job done properly, from the first look during the estimate to the final walkthrough at the end of the project. If you’re doubting your ability to get a high-quality finish, why not let us do the work for you? Our commitment to transparency, customer service, and craftsmanship means that we’re dedicated to making your home look its best, inside and out.

Contact The Urban Painter for a free estimate today, and see how you can improve the look of your home’s trim without breaking the bank. And right now is the perfect time, before the beating sun of summer wears away your current paint job any further. Call us at 403-774-1424 we look forward to working for you!