Modernpaint is reader-supported. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

How To Paint Woodwork Trim? Best Way To Paint Trim Explained [2023]

Woodworks made by baseboards and crown molding bring out unquestioned character and polish, especially in historic homes adorned with ornate crown molding, built-in bookcases, and pocket doors.

Decades of paint can, however, detract from the craftsmanship of these beautiful elements, blurring their clean lines, and obscuring the natural beauty of the wood. So, it is better to keep them attractive by painting them. In this article, we will see how to paint woodwork trim.

1. Clean The Woodwork

First, clean the woodwork trim properly. You should never paint a surface that is dirty because the paint will not stick properly.

It looks very ugly because the paint will become rough and uneven on the surface because of the already present dust particles.

2. Fill The Holes And Cracks

Now, you should fill the holes or cracks present on the surface with a wooden bar and let it dry for some time. Once it is completely dry, you can sand the paneling to get a smooth surface for painting.

Do not try to do hard sand on the surface as it can create rough areas. After doing it, remove the collected dust with the help of any piece of cloth.

3. Blur Around Trim

Be sure to apply caulk between the trim and at any gaps which is present.

Let the caulk get dried up before starting painting. Learn to paint wood trim and complete the decoration of your home.

A small, easy to do touch up to spice up your interior wood. So just smudge the paint with the brush or use new shades!

4. Prepare Before Painting Wooden Trim

Start by repairing cracks, holes, and irregularities with wood filler, then sand. To remove existing paint, stripping paint from wood trim is required, followed by sanding and careful dusting.

To rid the wood of its varnish, sand it with a grain of 80 to 120 (depending on the thickness of the varnish).

Then all you have to do is apply a special interior woodwork primer, then an acrylic formulation in the shade of your choice.

5. Highlight A Detail Of Your Woodwork

You still have to find the shade that will best match the color of the walls.

Tone on tone, there is no rule in the matter, say the decorators. Or rather, no more than three colors in the same room.

For example, charcoal grey walls, mouse gray baseboards, and door frames, and some mimosa yellow decor elements.

Instead, bet on clear, muted, or pastel colors to erase the solid side of the raw wood.

6. Paint All Woodwork In One Color

In fully paneled rooms, everything can be covered with the same color such as walls, ceilings, doors, window frames, and even family furniture leaning against the walls, such as sideboards or bookcases.

The objective is to obtain perfect unity without leaving any visible woodwork. In a bedroom, you can also paint the floor in the same tone. This will create an impression of a cocoon conducive to rest.

7. Play With Contrasts

Another option is to paint the woodwork while keeping some woodwork as is – the most beautiful. The wood, then considered as a color, is highlighted.

You can also paint a staircase leaving the steps raw. Choose the color palette according to the shade of the woodwork.

Light and neutral wood goes well with pastel or vitamin shades, blond wood brings out the intensity of cold and frank tones while chocolate, rustic wood, combine with more nuanced colors (bluish-grey, water green, etc). 

Tools Needed To Paint Woodwork Trim

The necessary tools are:

1. Flat Brush

It is the brush that allows you to make cuts, as well as painting small surfaces where the roller does not fit.

It allows you to paint the door trims, for example, while with a roller it is impossible to paint them well.

2. Foam Roller

Foam rollers are indicated for applying enamels since the finish will be very fine and no paint will be wasted.

In addition, the roller should not be very large, since the doors of the house have moldings and in some cases, the larger rollers will not fit.

3. Small Bucket

A bucket is essential. It allows us to paint without having to constantly bend down to load paint each time. As it weighs little, we can carry it with the hand that we do not have busy with the brush or roller.

In addition, it allows the paint to be perfectly distributed throughout the roller but without carrying excess paint, which would cause drops to fall on the floor or on the doors themselves.

Necessary Materials

The necessary materials are:

1. Masking Tape

The masking tape will be used to protect the walls from occasional paint when brushing through the flashing.

And to avoid painting also in certain corners, such as the meeting between the flashing and the floor.

2. Cardboard Paper

In the entire work area near the door to be painted, it is convenient to protect the floor with cardboard, which will prevent stains and paint drips.

It is also good practice to put a piece the size of the door leaf underneath it, to avoid painting when we cut the door leaf.

3. Primer

The essential material in our case. We want to paint woodwork that is varnished. For the paint to adhere perfectly it will be necessary to apply a good primer.

It will form the connecting bridge between the door and the finishing enamel. The chosen primer is water-based, like enamel.

How To Paint Woodwork Trim? [Step By Step]

You already know the basic theory. Now comes the best time. The one that will allow you to make every corner of your house unique, from your living room to your bedroom, with something as simple as a color change. Learn how to paint a wooden door by following these points, and get it!

You like wood, and this is reflected in the choice of your home. Ceiling moldings, plinths, picture rails, and bases, door frames, and even why not paneling and large shelves built into the wall. You live surrounded by this living material and you love it. Now, it’s time to give this woodwork a much-needed makeover.


  1. Protect the room where you are going to paint the woodwork by installing plastic sheeting on the floor and masking any walls and ceilings you do not wish to repaint with tape.
  1. Prepare the wood you are going to paint by filling in holes and other cracks with wood filler, and cleaning it if stained with household detergent.
  1. Remove any old paint layer that may be present by gently scraping it off or by stripping it if it is difficult to remove.
  1. Sand all surfaces to be painted with a strip of fine sandpaper that you can bend to reach hard-to-reach places, then wipe with a damp cloth to get rid of dust residue.
  1. Apply a coat of primer if the wood is bare, to fill its pores and protect it. Use a 25mm brush for moldings and jambs, and a properly sized pad for baseboards, plinths, and paneling. A round brush will also prove useful for painting any ornaments, and a roller can be used on a large area such as a paneled wall for example.
  1. Choose a wood trim paint specially adapted for wood, with water for easy cleaning, with oil for greater durability. Note that a lacquered paint will bring a glossy finish to the door frames and plinths, and will thus enhance them.
  1. Always paint with the grain, pulling the paint well. Apply two coats of paint for best results.

Mistakes To Avoid

  • It will be necessary to be precise and to have a controlled brushstroke. The woodwork does not forgive mistakes, and the slightest trace of the brush will be particularly visible.
  • If you’re repainting all of your woodwork at the same time, start at the top and work your way down as you go.
  • If you are also painting the walls near the woodwork, paint the woodwork first and then protect it before painting the adjacent walls.
  • Case of old woodwork: precautions to be taken

If the woodwork in your home is old, take the time to treat it before painting it, using a water-repellent waterproofing product and then a fungicide product.

How Long Does It Take To Paint A Door?

It will take a few couples of hours. It’s not just getting on the roller and that’s it. But there are many more operations. And every time we paint we must remember that it is done in several stages: first the cuts, then the general painting. We have reviewed some of the best paint for interior doors and trim.


In short, the job of painting wood trim is not as fast as it seemed. Simple yes it is, but fast no.  And it is, in addition, it is tiring. To paint the woodworks or the upper areas of the moldings, you have to adopt forced postures for a long time.

But all this hard work is worth it after the work is done. You will get a renovated look of your place which will surely fill your heart with positivity. This was about how to paint woodwork trim. Make sure that you choose the perfect colors according to your choice and get it done well.

Leave a Comment