Our home is 28 yeard old, and much of it has been upgraded and remodeled. We have changed out our bathroom and kitchen cabinets, as well as many of our doors and windows. However, there is still a tell tale remnant of our original design, and that is the wood trim that is along our base boards, windows and doors.
In our area, unfinished trim can cost $3 and up a linear foot, and finding a contractor to stain and install it can be extremely costly. I wanted our trim to match our new cabinets and doors, but our budget had already been spent so I decided to paint the trim myself, and reinstall it as well. Here is how I did it, and if I can do this, anyone can.
First you need a crow bar or wonder bar in order to pry off your existing trim. Do this carefully so you don’t damage your sheet rock. Once you’ve removed the trim, be sure to write which wall the trim came from. It’s amazing how hard it can be to find the correct trim for the correct wall when you are ready to replace it!
I then took the trim to our garage and suspended it on two saw horses. If you don’t have saw horses, TV trays work well, just cover them with plastic drop cloths to protect them.
I left the trim on our doors and windows because we don’t have an air nailer, and I didn’t want to mess with the perfectly mitered corners. Of course I needed to carefully tape up the surrounding areas so I wouldn’t get paint on the walls and door frames.
Before painting stained trim, you need to examine it to see what kind of work needs to be done to it. If there is a heavy sheen or patina on it, sanding it down is the first step. Paint will stick better if you are painted a surface that has been “roughed up”.
Our trim has several small grooves in it and the sanding process was tedius. If you don’t have enough of a finish on your trim to warrant sanding, you need to clean it well. I followed the advice of my local building supply store and I cleaned the trim with a mixture of 1/4 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon water. This will remove any oils from the wood that have accumulated there from our hands. They do sell special cleaners specifically for this job, but the store told me these are expensive and toxic, and said the vinegar and water method works just as well. (She was right!)
Once you have cleaned your trim, you need to let it sit and dry before you can paint over it. Depending on weather conditions, that process can take from one to several hours. When it’s dry, you are ready to paint. Be sure all the areas under the trim are covered with either a plastic or cotton drop cloth, get your paint and your foam rollers out and you are ready to start.
I like to use the foam rollers because the foam holds a lot of paint, and it can get down into the grooves in the trim much better than a paint brush can. It also will not leave any of those ugly brush marks that ordinary brushes can leave behind, which makes the job go much faster (it is a pain trying to smooth out brush marks).
Depending on the color of trim you are covering and the kind of paint you are using, you may need more than one coat. I purchased a satin paint, and spent a good deal of time matching up the color of the paint to the color of my cabinets. Because the fluorescent lighting in stores can skew the colors of paints, it is even more helpful to take the paint chips outside and view them in direct sunlight. This is where the beauty of shopping at a small hardware store comes in. It would be hard to do this at a large box store, in my opinion. I had the option of buying a quart of “tester” paint for $6 (to see if the color was to my liking) or $14 for a satin paint. Ask your retailer about this option.
When the paint is dry, match up your pieces of trim with the correct wall (you will be glad you took the time to mark them), line up the nails that came out (if they are not damaged, mine all still worked fine), and gently hammer the trim back in place. Voila! You now have new looking trim at a fraction of the cost. I paid only $14 to paint the trim in our new bedroom, and it would have cost me hundreds of dollars to replace it. Now I am ready for the rest of the house!