How Much Paint Do I Need For Trim?

Having too much and too little paint can be inconvenient in their own ways. It can be time-consuming to go back to the store, and you could have saved more penny for that leftover if you do not have anything to do with it anymore. But no worries! We've researched how you can calculate this in a very easy way.

The amount of paint you'll need depends on the total size of your trim. You can get that by multiplying its length and width. Approximately 1 gallon of paint can cover 400 square feet with a single coat. So, if you divide the total area by 400, you'll know how many gallons you'll need.

Even simple math can be confusing. So continue reading as we delve into the details—including what types of paint you should use, how you are going to put it on, and everything you should be aware of before you start a painting project.

white trim mounted on wall, How Much Paint Do I Need For Trim?

How To Calculate How Much Paint You Need

Here is a detailed step-by-step procedure that you can follow to fully understand the calculation:

Painter using brush to paint a white paint in a window

Step 1:

Get your trusted measuring tape and start from your preferred corner. Stretch that until the other end of your starting point. There, you will get the length. If the area that you will measure is not in a single line, it is better to write down each number on the paper or on your phone's note to make sure you'll add accurate numbers to determine the total.

For the width, get the height of the trim from top to bottom.

Step 2:

Once you're done, get the complete measurements, and multiply the length by the width.


Length = 40 Width = 20

40 x 20 = 800 square feet

Step 3:

Once you have the product, divide that into 400. This 400 is the average area that a gallon can cover. So, 1 gallon = 400 square feet.

800 / 400 = 2 gallons

This means you will have to buy two gallons of paint.

Step 4:

Decide on how many coats you are going to apply. If you want two coats, just double the number you got from step 3.

For example:

800/400 = 2 gallons

2 x 2 (coat) = 4 gallons

What Is The Best Paint For Trim?

Different types of color of paint

After figuring out the quantity you need to buy, the next big question is how to know which one of the dozens of paint can displays are you going to choose? Of course, you should go after the one that will protect and cover your trim nicely.

Check out these pointers to consider below. Because if you're not familiar with paints, you will be overwhelmed by the existing types and categories.

Oil-Based Vs. Water-Based Paint

If you're after the best finishing result, you should go to the oil-based section. Although you should remember, beauty comes with a price. This type of trim paint takes a long time to dry because of its thick consistency. It is also harder to clean afterward.

On the other hand, it is a better choice because it can fill in small holes or impurities on its surface. It works wonders when you want to conceal stains from water and other things. And because it is oil, it glides smoothly over the wood, thus presenting a stroke-free finish. Plus, it is more resistant to moisture, which is a good thing for those that are placed near water-prone areas of your home.

Click here to see this oil-based paint on Amazon.

Since oil-based paints are harder to apply, you can still opt for water-based paints, especially if you're going to do it without the help of a professional painter. It is easier to use, cleaner, and faster to dry.

Matte Or Gloss Sheen?

When you put a decoration inside your house, you probably put it wherever you did to make it shine. Same thing with trim, especially if there are patterns carved on them. Glossy finishes like satin, semi-gloss, gloss, or high glass can reflect more light. Perfect for highlighting the details.

Matte not only gives a flat illusion but it is also prone to paint chips, attracting more dirt, and requires more maintenance. This type is best used for walls, cabinets, and doors.

If you are wondering what is the standard sheen for trim paint—it is semi-gloss. Because it is not too shiny compared to high-gloss and is a little more lustrous than satin. It provides the perfect finish that you want to achieve.

Click here to see this semi-gloss paint on Amazon.

Play It Safe, Go Back To Basic White

white paint

Of course, applying the wrong choice of color to our trims is a mistake that you can't just ignore. It is very obvious and can easily attract attention. Especially if you do not know how color schemes work, it's probably best to stick to white.

But wait, before you think we're done, you must know that there are 150,000 shades of white. It is better to go to a physical store to see the exact color because the ones that are available on the internet probably differ from how they look in person.

Also, if you are going to use oil-based paint, you must take into consideration that it turns yellow over time when exposed to sunlight. But don't worry! There are yellow resistant paints you can buy.

Learn more about the best option here: The Best Paint Finish For Trim?

Do You Paint Trim Or Wall First?

Most professionals are particular on what comes first and last. For them, in order to make the work easier and faster, you should paint the trim first, next is the ceiling, and lastly, the walls.

The reason behind this is that you do not really have to put tape on the wall to avoid getting the molding paint on it. You can always conceal that extra smudge with the color you will use later on. And it'll save you more time and labor.

Do not forget to spread paper on the floor to prevent unwanted drops, which can be a hassle to clean.

Usually, it takes a day for the trim's paint to dry completely. If you're planning to apply multiple coats, it is advisable to sand the surface before applying the next layer. After that, remove the residues before wiping them off to make sure there are no leftover particles. By doing so, you can avoid a grainy texture.

Once it is safe and is surely not wet anymore, put tape as a barrier from the wall. Make sure you follow the edges and use an 'easy release' type of tape. You can do the same process to the ceiling before proceeding to the biggest part.

Extra tip! Wait for the paint to be hard enough before peeling off the tape. For a flawless finish, use sharp items like a cutter knife.

You can dig deeper into this topic by checking out this other post: How Long Should Paint Dry Before Taping?

Is It Better To Paint The Trim Rather Than Replacing It?

removing the cover tape on the trim

A homeowner would replace the molding in their home only when it is totally impaired mainly due to the very long exposure of the wood to water. But if your trim just got worn out over time and only has a few scratches from your pets or bumping of the furniture against it, repainting it can do the job.

Unless you want to change its style completely, be aware that it will cost you a lot more.

Is It Okay To Paint Over A Painted Trim?

Yes, there is no problem with that. You just have to clean it first before proceeding with the other steps of painting the trim. But before that, you should be aware that you should use the same kind of paint that is already dyed. For example, if you used oil-based, the new layer that you will add should also be the same type.

Tips To Avoid Having Brush Marks On Trim—And How To Remove It

Having brush marks is quite common and can happen to anyone, even professionals.

It is recommended to use a paintbrush instead of rollers. Some use both methods, but it can leave different textures as it doesn't have the same material in spreading the color.

Whatever your choice is, using a non-polyester or soft-bristled brush should do the trick. On rollers, you can buy the foam type. If there are still visible marks, you can sand the surface until it feels smooth before painting it again.

Check out this Pro Grade paintbrush set on Amazon.

To Wrap Up

white trim mounted on wall

Now that you can figure out the amount of paint you'll use and the other factors you should take into account when painting your trim, you can go ahead and start giving your home a fresh new look! Don't forget our pointers and painting tips, so you'll surely ace the work. Good luck!

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