Painting your house is always a big deal, with lots of questions and decisions to work on.
Though every house is different, there are a number of factors you should keep in mind before going through with the decision to paint (or repaint) your house and its different parts.
If you’re considering painting your wood trim white, for example, you’ll want to make sure this is the right decision for you.
Typically, you should consider painting your wood trims white, if you want to make your small room look larger, neat, and more modern.
However, if your walls are already painted white do not opt for white, rather try different shades (such as off-white, cream, or light brown) that matches well with your room decor.
In this guide, we’ll go over the pros and cons of painting your finished wood trim white so that you can make the decision that’s right for you.
With this in mind, let’s jump right in!
Why Paint Wood Trim White? (The Pros)
Loving the idea of white trims more than the natural wood look?
Perhaps these pros will be able to enforce your decision:
1- Enhances Size
White trim around windows and doorways is a great way to make those aspects of the room look larger.
What’s more, it makes your ceilings appear taller, which is an excellent way for you to make a smaller room appear larger than it is.
If you wish to create the illusion of space, you may consider trying this easy trick.
2- Creates Calmness
White trim helps produce a feeling of serenity in your rooms while giving them a bit more modern comfort.
Compared to standard wood trims, these trims have a brightened, positive effect that can give your room a bit more uplifting.
This is great for family rooms or studies where you wish to create a more productive atmosphere.
3- Feels Cleaner and Easy to Clean
White color is generally associated with purity and cleanliness.
And by painting your wood trims white, you can create a feeling of tidiness, sanitation, and good hygiene.
Dealing with dirt and grime is also not very hard when you have white-colored trims for your windows and doors.
Depending on how dirty or abraded your painted trims are, you can use products like wet cleaning wipes, warm soapy water, or even Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to take of them.
Why Do Not Paint Wood Trim White? (The Cons)
With all the great things being said, there are some cons to painting your wood trims white.
Let’s take a look at a few:
1- Covers Naturally-Beautiful Wood
If your home is antique with ancestral high values, painting your wood trims could end up being a massive no-no.
That’s because older homes typically have a beautiful natural wood design that’s not only charming but is also rare to see in modern construction.
This means painting over your oak trim could reduce the beauty of your home in a way you simply cannot take back.
2- Potentially Reduces Resale Value
Building on this could also end up hurting the resale value of your home.
If you’re looking to sell in the future, you may be better off just leaving your house as it is.
This will help you maintain the historic charm of your home and leave the hard decisions up to a future buyer.
Even if you do not intend to sell your home, it’s a good idea to leave your possibilities open, as you never really know what you’ll do in the future.
3- Doesn’t Match Well with White Walls
If the walls in your room are already painted white in color, white trim isn’t your best option – unless you want to place a white-on-white color scheme that looks more like a hospital or your doctor’s clinic.
The amount of bright natural light you get in your room can also make a significant difference.
Because the rooms with white walls mixed with natural light can create a feeling of being blown out.
How to Paint Wood Trim White without Sanding?
After knowing the advantages and disadvantages of painting your wood trim white, maybe you are looking to paint them the easy way.
So, next, I will tell you exactly how to paint your wood trim white without the need for sanding.
Keep these tips in mind to get your room looking the best it ever has!
What Do You Need to Paint?
In order to paint over your painted or stained wood trim without sanding, you’ll need the following:
- Primer: You can use VOC or no-VOC primer, but know what you are getting.
- Abrasive Hand Pad: You’ll use this for light “sanding” to help the primer stick to your wood.
- Paint Cup: This will help keep your paintbrush clean and your wood looking seamless.
- Paint Brush: A 1″ to 2″ brush generally works best for more even painting on window and door trims.
- Paint: We recommend semi-gloss. Again, be sure to check whether it is VOC or no-VOC.
- Paint Trim Guard: This guard will protect your surfaces from unwanted paint.
- Drop Cloth: Drop cloths are critical to maintaining the integrity of your floor.
- Paint Tray: The paint tray will make your life easier and keep your paint smooth and clear.
- Painter’s Tape: You’ll want to use this to section off your room and keep paint only where it needs to be.
You can assemble all these must-have paint items at your local hardware store.
7 Steps to Painting the Trim
When you have the above tools at hand, you’ll want to follow these steps to get your wood trim looking great successfully:
Step 1- Room Prep
Start by relocating any furniture to another room and covering the floors with drop cloths.
This will help keep you from getting loose paint on your room’s décor.
Step 2- Wipe Trim
Once you are done with the prep work, you’ll want to ensure that your trim is clean.
Making a vinegar and water solution, dip a cloth in there to dampen it. Then take the cloth and polish the wood trim gently until it’s clean.
If you are painting the old trims, you will also need to get the old paint off the wood without damaging it.
Depending on the age and condition of your house, the denatured alcohol (for light coatings) or chemical paint strippers (for tough coatings) can be used to remove old finishes, paint, or stain.
Step 3- Putty Application
Next, you’ll likely need to apply wood putty so that your trim is even for paint application.
For applying the putty, you don’t need any special tools. Simply dip your finger into the putty and rub it across any holes in your trim.
Step 4- Rub with Pads
While you don’t want to sand with sandpaper, you do want to use abrasive hand pads to give your honey oak trims a quick sanding for a more adhesive surface to hold the primer.
Once you have given the trim a quick wipe down with the pads, wipe it again with a damp cloth to catch any remaining debris.
Step 5- Apply Paint Trim Guard
For the next step, you’ll want to tape the nearby baseboards and apply a paint trim guard.
This will make the process easier and less messy while ensuring that the surface is protected from any paint or overspray, just in case you plan to use a hand sprayer for the painting instead of a brush.
Step 6- Apply Primer
It’s essential that you apply the primer in two coats and note whether it is VOC or non-VOC product. If it contains VOCs, be sure to open windows to improve circulation in the room.
When buying online, you can check for these anti-mold primer options, which I think work best for interior and exterior wood trims.
- Zinsser B-I-N Primer Sealer
- Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Primer
- KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Latex Primer
Step 7- Apply Paint
Finally, it’s time to apply the white paint to your oak trims using a 1″ to 2″ brush.
Do not over-thin the trim paint, as applying the thicker consistencies of paint will help prevent the paint sags.
Also, apply the paint at least twice. But depending on the condition of your wood, you may need to apply even more coats. Older and severely weathered wood takes more coats than newer wood.
What to Paint First – The Walls or The Trim?
It’s one of those questions that so many people usually ask when they have prepared everything else and are now ready to paint.
And I always say that the answer will depend on the specific situation you are in and the preferences you have when painting.
What follows are some tips on what to paint first…
When to Paint the Trim First?
You will generally need to paint your trims and baseboards first in these conditions:
If there’s construction work going on, starting with the natural wood trim makes sense.
This is because of the dust and debris that are often kicked up during the construction process.
By starting with the trim, you can minimize any possible spots it may cause.
Once the trim is done painting, you can wait for the construction to be complete before getting to the walls.
If you are using tape, you should use them to edge off the areas around the trim because it’s easier to apply the tape to the trim instead of the walls.
This is particularly true if the walls in your room are textured.
3- No Tape:
If you are not using tape, you should start with the trim if you are better at freehand painting.
To get that edge, you can cut in when applying the paint.
When to Paint the Walls First?
If you want to know quickly what the paint will look like, starting with the walls will give you the best option.
Or, if you cannot stand the look of the walls right now, then painting them first makes considerable sense.
Other reasons include the following;
1- Less Skill:
If you or the people helping you are not skilled painters, starting on the wall makes considerable sense.
Walls are more forgiving when it comes to painting as compared to trim.
So, you can always correct some of the paint on the walls with a dry brush, but fixing the trim is a little more complicated.
2- Questionable Wall Color:
Sometimes people do not know what they want until they see it.
If you are not sure of the wall color, then you can change it fairly quickly.
This is better than painting the trim first, then the walls, and discovering you do not like the color and need to repaint the trim as well.
Mostly, if you follow your common sense, then that can help you decide on which to paint first.
What To Look for When Buying a Good Trim Paint?
When painting the trims and baseboards inside, never use your regular wall paint. Instead, buy the best paint designed for interior wood trims and woodwork.
Or, if painting exterior wood trims, check that it’s designed to withstand the exterior conditions.
When buying online, a few important things you may look for in the white trim paint are:
Semigloss white paint is an ideal paint when you want to paint the interior trims and baseboards because it leaves a classic, evergreen look with some shine.
Not only does it attract lesser dirt, but also it prevents the brush marks from appearing after drying. Plus, you can easily wipe them clean, making cleaning easy and fast.
You can also choose finishes such as satin, gloss, and high gloss if you want.
But make sure you do not choose white flat or matte paint finishes as they can attract more dirt and debris over time due to their inbuilt properties.
Trim paint usually comes in two varieties, i.e., oil-based and acrylic-latex.
Alkyd/Oil-based trim paints can offer superior finishing with lesser brush marks. However, they may be slow at drying and can emit fumes and odor for some time.
Also, these trim paints need solvent-based cleaners just in case you need to clean them afterward.
Water-based trim paints also provide good finishing but with some visible brush marks.
The advantage is these do not emit any fumes and are also easier to clean by using just soap and water.
Once you are in the market to choose a good trim paint, you will find numerous brands available – keep in mind that not all of them offer good results.
When picking, check for consumer reviews and ratings. Also, check if they have titled the paint “trim paint.” Many companies label them appropriately to make it easier for consumers to identify them.
Some of my favorite and most reliable brands are:
- Dutch Boy
- Benjamin Moore
All these brands manufacture classic white paints for trim (interior and exterior), available in perfect semigloss finishes that are easier to clean.
Some of these pre-tinted white trim paints also come with non-yellowing properties, which means they do not turn yellow very fast, even when exposed to sunlight.
Final Thoughts: Natural wood trim vs. painted?
So what does all the above information mean for you?
Simply put, it means that wood trims aren’t outdated yet. In fact, I see them coming back in the new houses as it’s the loveliest, most durable, and pocket-friendly option.
However, deciding to keep a natural look or paint your wood trim white is totally up to you.
The practice has both benefits and disadvantages, though many of these disadvantages come to those individuals with historic or architecturally important homes.
Whatever you decide, ensure you are confident and use the information in this guide to help you make the right choice.
Also, painting may not always be the best idea if your trim or baseboards show significant signs of wear and tear, water damage, or warping. Replacing them should be your option.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.