Trim Paint (Painting Trim White)

LAST UPDATED: May 29, 2020 | PUBLISHED: May 09, 2019 | By:

This is the ultimate, comprehensive guide to Trim Paint, where you’ll learn about choosing the Best Paint for Trim. You’ll find information about what products to use, tips for Painting Trim White, and so much more!

white trim paint in hallway

Let’s face it. Paint can be complicated! I always love how design shows tout paint as the simplest, least expensive change you can make to your home.

Yes, it’s a huge change. But is it an easy decision to make? Never! Choosing trim paint can be stressful, just like every paint job in our homes.

trim paint for doors, trim and more

If you’re considering taking the plunge and painting trim white, you’re in the right place.

I love a crisp, clean trim color and I’ve got so many tips to choose the best paint for trim! Here, you’ll get my best tips for choosing paint colors and sheens, what type of brushes and tools are best, and more.

bedroom paint and trim colors in cream and white

Choosing The Best Trim Paint

There’s a standard answer to the question that I receive time and again. “What’s the best paint for trim?” My answer is always the same: semi-gloss!

It’s a builder standard, and with good reason. Semi-gloss paint is easy to wipe down, has a pretty sheen that catches the light and highlights your pretty trim, and it creates a pretty edge next to your less shiny walls! 

One of my favorite tips? You can create a subtly beautiful effect by choosing the same color for your walls and trim, but simply altering the sheen.

When you choose semi-gloss for the trim and doors, but then use an eggshell or satin finish on the walls, the effect is beautiful, soft and warm.

It also allows the eye to continue to the ceiling (a contrasting color stops the eye), so it’s perfect for rooms that have “low” ceilings. You can see an example of this style in our living room, where the room and trim are painted in Zurich White, in different sheens.

Wall and trim paint in same color different sheen

What Color Should I Paint My Trim?

Your next step is choosing the color for your trim. This is often the most stressful decision for me, personally. Mistakes are expensive, and you don’t want to live with a painting mistake for years to come! 

As mentioned above, you can simply paint your trim and walls the same color in a different sheen. However, if you’d like a little more contrast, choosing a soft white option that coordinates with your wall color is so important!

Many “whites” have a lot of blue or yellow in the background and can clash with wall colors. My favorite trim color is often simply an untinted white. 

painting trim white with cream walls

We’ve used both Valspar Signature Ultra White Base A and my very favorite, Sherwin Williams Pro Classic in untinted white.

Get all my best tips for choosing a paint palette here. There are so many factors to consider, including lighting, flooring, and more! 

living room paint colors in cream and white

Can You Paint Trim Without Sanding? 

While I am certainly not a painting professional, I have renovated several homes through our years of home ownership. We’ve tried a lot of shortcuts and some have been more successful than others.

While it’s often advised that you’ll need to sand your wooden trim before painting, there’s another option! 

You can paint without sanding! It’s the ultimate painting shortcut. We’ve had so much success with this trick on trim, windows, furniture and more! You can  paint your glossy wooden trim white using this method.

You can find all the details and technique tips in the link above. My favorite product is available here. It truly eliminates the need for sanding  and I am a fan of shortcuts when they save me both time and mess! 

girl's bedroom paint colors

How To Choose Door and Trim Paint

I’ve tried a variety of paint brands over the years. Ideally, it’s best to discuss your specific project with the paint professionals at your friendly neighborhood paint specialty store.

However, there are a few items you can ask about when you’re choosing the best brand and type of paint. 

mudroom cream paint color

Ask about the sagging/lagging potential with each paint option, and ask if you’ll need to prime first (this generally depends on whether you’re starting with a stained or previously painted surface). You can also ask about oil vs water-based paint for your project.

Oil paint offers a durable finish our trim and cabinet projects. Yes, it’s messy and can be more difficult to clean up during your project. 

Master bedroom cream paint color

We use Sherwin Williams Pro Classic. It’s water-based, so it doesn’t have an awful odor. It has a smooth finish and resists brush marks. It’s durable and wipes clean with a wet cloth.

You can typically skip using a primer when using this trim paint. I always recommend painting a smalll swatch and doing a scratch test 24 hours after the paint has cured to be cure.

Trim paints are typically branded as such. They are often more expensive than traditional wall paints, simply because they are formulated to hold up to higher traffic areas.

I love that there are so many options for paint and primer combinations now. Anything to eliminate those extra steps, right? 

Cream and White wall and trim colors

Best Paint Brush for Trim 

The best paint brush for trim will always have an angled edge, making it perfect for cutting in for clean lines! Find my very favorite trim brush here. 

Here’s a product that is loved by many when it comes to painting trim!  Consider using these edging guides! You can simply use them as you move along, eliminating the need for taping and creating a clean line every time. It makes painting trim a breeze!

Another product you might love when you’re painting trim is a caulk gun – it fills in the spaces between trim and drywall for a clean, pristine finish.

Bedroom and hallway color choices for trim

The Best Painting Tips

The best painting tips and tools for every surface.

Do you have any more tips for painting trim? What are your favorite tips and techniques? I’d love to hear! For more painting projects and some wonderful before and afters, be sure to check out my Facebook share group, Celebrating Simple!

You can learn about choosing Ceiling Paint here.

My Favorite Paint Colors

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