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How To Paint Wood Trim White

Painting your wood trims white will make your home and furniture have a cleaner, more inviting appeal. Painting them can be challenging since there are many methods you can try, and not all of them would be the right one. So, what's the best way to paint wood trim white? How do you do it without sanding? We have researched answers to find out.

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If you need to paint your wood trim by sanding, scruff out the surface using 120-grit sandpaper to remove the sheen from the surface and to make the paint stick. Do this before applying the primer.

However, you can paint your wood trim without sanding: you just need to use a liquid sander, deglosser, to make the paint adhere properly. Here is how you could paint your trim.

  • Apply a deglosser
  • Clean the trim
  • Tape the edges
  • Caulk the cracks
  • Apply the primer
  • Paint the trim with white paint

Deglossing your wood is easier than having to sand it. There are many things you should know before painting your trim, so keep reading below to learn more!

A classic empty room with big window and fireplace, How To Paint Wood Trim White

How To Paint Wood Trim White Without Sanding

It's no surprise that most people prefer using a deglosser instead of having to resort to physical exertion by manually sanding the surface. The paint needs a way to adhere to the surface properly, and that's where a deglosser will do the job perfectly.

If you don't apply a deglosser, the paint will eventually peel off and make your trim look terribly aged. Worse, the paint might not adhere at all, which will be a waste of effort.

Here is how you should paint your trim without sanding. 

Read: "12 Types Of Flooring And Carpet Trims And Transitions"

Apply a Deglosser

Deglosser, or liquid sandpaper, removes the sheen of stained wood by roughing up the top coat, allowing another paint to stick to the surface. You won't need to peel the paint itself; you are simply painting over it by removing the lustrous part. 

Deglossers are ideal for furniture and small spaces since regular sandpaper sometimes won't be able to get through the corners. Deglossers can target spaces better, allowing for a smoother finish.

Note that deglossers only roughen up the surface; they won't be able to flatten edges and marks.

Make sure to use a lint-free cloth when applying a deglosser as this will ensure a more even coverage. 

Clean the Trim

Wiping a folded yellow rag along the lower white wall trim near the wood floor to remove dust

Use a soap solution or an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean your trim. This is important because dirt, dust, debris, and oil can prevent the paint from fully adhering. 

This is especially important if you are planning to paint the trim outside your house. The surface is most likely coated with dirt, and if it's deglossed and painted over without cleaning, the trim won't look well-painted

Worst case scenario, the accumulated dirt, and oil may somehow cause the paint to peel off after a few days. 

Tape the Edges

Male hand preparing to paint wall trim by placing blue painter's tape on the wall above it for protection.

You should first tape the edges if you're only planning to paint the trim; otherwise, the paint will bleed off to your other wall and ruin other surfaces.

You may also accidentally paint the walls yourself, so it's better to avoid human error and properly prep the surface you want to paint white. 

Taping off the edges will also guide your hands into painting more even, straight lines, which will result in a smoother and more visually-pleasing paint job. Of course, free-handing is an option if you're confident about your skills or if you've had years of experience painting. 

Caulk the Cracks

Young man wearing overalls sealing cracks between door and trim using waterproof silicone caulk

Filling the holes and repairing cracks are jobs that shouldn't be ignored even if you're just trying to paint the trim. White is a bright color; it will naturally emphasize the trim. If there are a lot of imperfections, they will easily be seen.

Caulk the cracks using a caulk gun. Silicone caulking should do the trick, especially with hairline cracks. 

For holes, you can use either water-based or solvent-based wood fillers. If you're filling out the holes outside your house, use a solvent-based wood filler since they are stronger and better at withstanding the weather. 

If the trim holes are indoors, water-based fillers should be enough. Make sure to prime over the filled cracks and holes for added protection. 

Apply a Primer

Priming is highly essential when repainting your wood trim in any color, but especially when you paint it white. Primers prevent the wood grain and knots from bleeding through so that the white paint will look pristine and neat, without any other colors making it look visually messy. 

If deglossers allow the paint to adhere, primers provide additional stickiness to porous surfaces that are present in the wood.

Primers also allow you to put lighter paint on dark-stained wood, so using a primer will make the job easier if the trims you're trying to paint white are dark-stained.

Paint the Trim White

Hand with a paint brush

After signs of wear and tear have been fixed and the primer has dried off, it's time to paint your trim. The waiting time for the primer to dry off completely is 24 hours, so you'll have to wait before painting.

Use a 2 1/2-inch angled paint brush for wider trims. For narrower ones, a 1 1/2 inch brush should be enough to cover the surface. 

Once the surface is coated with paint, even it out by running a long stroke on the trim. 

The first coat should dry out within 4-6 hours. However, to be safe, it is still best to wait for up to 24 hours especially if your paint is oil-based.

If you're not satisfied, you can add another coat until you've achieved the vibrance you want. 

How long until the paint completely dries?

The drying time can change depending on several factors, including temperature and humidity levels.

This is why it is important to check the weather forecast first before painting anything in your house--including your trim. The more humid it is, the heavier the airflow, and the longer you'll have to wait. 

Why should you paint your trim white?

Painting your trim white has a lot of aesthetic advantages. For instance, they can break up the monotony in your interior, and they emphasize the spaces you want to draw attention to without being visually overwhelming. 

Empty room of an elegant residence with fireplace

White trims also tone down strong and vibrant colors, tying up the colors in an interior or exterior and making it look more visually harmonious. This will allow you more freedom to change up your style since the trims offer the balance you need.

Having white trim is also an ideal alternative to having intricate and elaborate molding. They will give life to the interior or exterior without spending too much, making them an ideal option if you're on a budget.

Read: "15 Gorgeous Living Rooms With Accent Walls"

Are white trims timeless?

When painting your trim, the one important thing you should consider is whether it blends seamlessly with the rest of your interior.

Technically, that's what timelessness is really about: classic designs that look natural all throughout, in any season. 

If stark white trims feel too strong for you, there are softer and lighter neutral options. Eggshell white, for example, will make vibrant interiors feel cohesive, and the "soft whiteness" of the trim will complement darker colors. 

Deglossing Vs. Sanding -- Which is Better?

Both deglossing and sanding have their own pros and cons, and whether one is better than the other depends on your priorities entirely. 

For example, if exerting less time and effort seems more appealing to you, deglosser is the way to go. It is faster, more manageable, and doesn't require heavy machinery or physical labor to accomplish.

However, if there are edges you want to smooth out, deglossers won't be able to accomplish that. You will need to physically sand down the surface if you want it to be smooth and even. 

Young man sanding nail holes on white trim board

Whether you're using a deglosser or sandpaper, protecting yourself should be a priority. Use a mask and gloves if you're sanding to avoid particles from entering your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Make sure you also wear a mask and have enough room ventilation when applying a deglosser since it contains strong chemicals. Wear long-sleeved clothing and chemical-resistant gloves to protect your skin as well. 

Final Thoughts

White wood trim is a timeless design solution, and they fit in almost any interior.

It shouldn't take too much of your time and energy to beautify a part of your home, so applying practical solutions such as going for deglossers are a smart move.