Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tips and Tools for Painting Trim White

So you wanna paint all your woodwork white? 

DON'T DO IT!

I kid, I kid.  



In all reality, if you don't have hundreds of dollars to spend replacing all of the woodwork in your house, painting it white is a very cost-effective (albeit time-consuming) way to make a major transformation. And if you don't have 3,618 other DIY projects going on at the same time, it's probably seems much more of a surmountable task. 

But I digress. Our transformation to all white woodwork in our house began last year. We were getting new carpet installed in our basement, as well as replacing the carpet in all three of our main floor bedrooms. This was the perfect opportunity to paint the trim white at the same time. Here's a picture of the original stuff (which was stained with Minwax Colonial Maple by the builders):


With the old carpet on its way out anyway, we just cut out a strip along the entire perimeter of the bedrooms and removed the deadly tack strips.  This way, I was able to just use painter's tape along the top edge and keep the base trim on the walls while painting it.  

We have textured walls which can make it a little trickier to get a clean line sometimes, so I used Scotchblue Painter's Tape with Edge-Lock.  (If you're not too sloppy with the brush, you can get away with the 1.5" width, which is cheaper than the 2".)






So, what about the other prep work?  As the resident painter in our household, I had done quite a bit of research on both prep and painting.  I ended up doing a light scuff-sanding just to dull the glossy finish on the trim, then wiped it with a damp rag to clean off the excess dust.  Sanding sponges like these from 3M worked pretty well for the job:



After the trim had been sanded, I brushed on three (yes, three) coats of Kilz Premium Primer, which is a high-hide stain blocker. Is this overkill?  Maybe.  But I wanted to make sure to have really good coverage and reduce any chance of that stubborn, orange-y oak stain color bleeding through.  Besides, the primer only takes an hour to dry so re-coating is pretty fast.  

The brush I used for painting the primer is the Wooster Shortcut with a 2" angled brush and a short, flexible handle. The packaging states that it's "great for corners, tight spaces" and the "flexible, soft handle adds comfort."  I would have to agree with both of these claims. I felt the short handle also gave me extra control -- when you're painting narrow base trim (especially that's still on the wall) it's nice to not have a long, unwieldy handle.



Once I was done priming, it was time for the actual trim paint. After much comparing of different types of paint for this project, I had decided on Sherwin Williams ProClassic interior acrylic latex in semi-gloss. It carries a pretty hefty price tag, so I'd recommend purchasing it when SW has one of their 30% off sales!  (FYI - One gallon has been more than enough to do our entire house.)



I also invested in a higher-quality paintbrush than what I'd used for the primer: the Wooster Shortcut Pro. It also has a short handle, but the 2" angled brush is more tapered off at the end, and the nylon bristles are very silky for a smooth finish. This proved to be a great brush choice as well.




The ProClassic requires a longer drying time of 4 hours in between coats, and I ended up doing two coats of it for uniform coverage (no need for any type of clear coat after that). So all in all, this means our trim has 5 coats of paint. But was it worth it?



YES. The old orange oak stain had long since worn out its welcome. The new white woodwork gave everything an updated, fresh look.  And, it made for a much more flattering contrast with all our wall colors.  




So it looks good... but is it durable? 
Here's what I can tell you given our experience so far. The painted base trim held up pretty well when the new carpet was installed in the bedrooms a few days after I had finished painting.  I was pretty paranoid about the rough, scratchy backing of the carpet when the contractors pushed it into place underneath the trim.  But there were only a few little scuffs to touch up. 

We don't have any kids, but we do have a couple of dogs who sometimes like to jump up on our big picture window when they see something outside.  So far I haven't seen any scratches in the paint and I've been able to wipe off smudges from dirty paws with a damp cloth.  I also haven't seen any bleed-through of the old stain color. 


Orange-y woodwork...

...White woodwork!

How much time did the entire project take? 
That's a tough one to answer.  It's been such a drawn out project since I've more or less tackled one room at a time. It probably took me 2 days to do a single bedroom, from prep to pulling off tape. Windows and door frames were a little more of a headache than base trim.

Over the past few months, I've also been gradually painting all the window/door trim and base trim in the rest of our main floor (kitchen, dining room, living room).  Since we're doing other renovations anyway, we did end up removing the base trim from the walls in this case, and I've had it set up on sawhorses so I can do it all at once more efficiently (after filling nail holes).



Front door before...

... Front door after!

Living room windows before... (also with our old wall color)

...Living room windows after!

Our master renovation plan still includes replacing all the existing flooring with luxury vinyl plank, but I can't wait to see the crisp white trim against our new, dark LVP when it's all done.  You can definitely count on seeing those progress pictures, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Painting all our home's woodwork white has been a daunting project, but I'm so glad we did it.  All in all, the total cost of paint, paintbrushes, and tape has probably been about $100-125. If you're planning on doing the same thing yourself someday, I hope you found my experience helpful!








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