How To Paint Trim Without Brush Marks

If you are the type of person whose painting skills are not enough to make the finish brush mark-free, do not worry! Today is the day that we will change that. We have researched and consulted professionals about your problem. Here is what we found out that you should do:

To paint your trim without brush marks, start by picking the right kind of materials and tools that you will use, including the paintbrush and paint. Then follow the proper way of painting a trim. This includes cleaning the whole area (vacuum and wiping) and repairing the trim's surface.

Lastly, execute the right painting techniques, such as applying the right amount of paint and pressure, as well as the stroke direction, using the right materials and tools. 

Now that we know how to avoid getting brush marks, we will discuss them more for better understanding. Aside from that, related concerns will also be tackled to ensure that you will not see any streaks the next time you paint. Let's get started

Interior of a room with classic white double sliding raised doors against blue wall, How To Paint Trim Without Brush Marks

Painting Trim Without Brush Marks

Nope, your hands are not the reason why there are brush marks on your trim. It is because you are using the wrong type of material and kind of tool.

Also, you may have  simply stained without putting much thought into it. We are here to teach you techniques that will let you paint like a pro. 

We are going to talk about the techniques as well as the extra steps that you should do to have brush mark-free paint. We will start with what you should prepare before painting. 

First, you will have to repair and seal any gaps or damage along your trim using putty and a putty knife. Sanding the trim's surface with 320 grit sandpaper should also be done to smooth it.

After that, clean the whole area. Vacuum the floor and dust the room using clean water, a cleaning solution, and a rag—especially the trim.

Bank paints and brush on a wooden

This step will help you a lot in achieving your streak-free goal, because dust and debris that are present during your painting process will mostly likely cause brush marks and ruin your glass-like, smooth finish.

Once the area is clean, you may proceed to the following steps.

  • Lay a plastic sheet or old newspapers on the floor. Then put painter's tape on either side of the trim.
  • Get your paintbrush and dip it until half of the bristle's height is submerged. Pull it out and let the excess paint flow down by gently tapping the paintbrush on the inner opening side of the bucket. Do so until the paint that your brush is holding is not too much and not too little.
  • Apply it to the trim in a long, continuous stroke. Start from a corner towards its parallel corner. Do not apply too much pressure while doing this. Just let the brush be the paint's guide to where it should go. Continue until you cover the entire trim.

After these steps, wait for the paint to dry before taking off the tape. 

Check out this 320 grit sandpaper on Amazon.

Wondering what paint color you will use? Read this: What Color To Paint Molding, Baseboards, And Overall Trim? [3 Options]

What Is The Best Paint Brush To Avoid Brush Marks On the Trim?

There are a few factors that you should consider when choosing the right paint brush to achieve a smooth finish on your trim. These factors are namely—the bristles, kind of edge, and width of the brush.

Make sure to take note of these three factors and have them checked when you buy a new paint brush for this project. 

Right Bristle To Prevent Streaks

You should determine the kind of paint you will use first before you figure out the type of bristle you will need. This is because the two correlate with one another in the sense that they should be compatible to hold and transfer the paint toward the surface.

For example, below is a list of paintbrush types and the kinds of paint they are used with.

  • Synthetic bristle (nylon, polyester, nylon-polyester): Ideal for water-based paints.
  • Natural bristle (hair of horse, ox, hog, etc.): Ideal for oil-based paint.

So if you use synthetic bristles with oil-based paint, the paint will most likely pass through the fibers and vice versa. For trim, the recommended bristle to be used is nylon-polyester—which is a combination of the two.

Right Brush Edge

There are different paintbrush tips such as angled, flat, finishing, etc. The angled sash brush is the ideal one for painting trim. Its slanted edge is perfect for edging, precise details, and straight lines. So using this on trim makes the stroking easier.

Right Width Of Paintbrush

The width of your paintbrush depends on how wide the trim you will paint is. For instance, a brush of 1 to 2 inches is ideal for narrow trims such as a door, window casing, or baseboards.

If you are dealing with wainscoting, which is a large panel that usually covers half of the wall, then use a brush that is 2 to 4 inches wide.

What Is The Best Paint To Avoid Brush Marks On the Trim?

Set of clean paint brushes

Opt for oil-based paints. They make none to minimal brush stroke marks due to their thick consistency.

These specific characteristics are why the paint takes so long to dry (6 to 8 hours). Thus, it has more time to settle down evenly, eliminating the stubborn marks that may be present. 

Once you purchase oil-based trim paint in the store, ask or look for the "interior" label if you are only using it indoors. When it comes to the sheen, semi-gloss is the standard finish for trim. Any gloss level will also do.

But the reason why glossy is preferred over matte is that it can reflect light rather than absorb it, which means the details that are present and carved on the trim can be highlighted.

Check out this oil-based trim paint on Amazon.

Do you want to know how much paint you will need for painting trim? Learn here: How Much Paint Do I Need For Trim?

What To Add To Paint To Eliminate Brush Strokes?

Add paint thinner and Penetrol to the oil-based paint. Do this by pouring the oil-based paint into a clean, empty bucket and then adding the two other ingredients. Mix them with a paint stick until you get the right consistency.

To determine if you should stop mixing, lift the stick and let the paint on it flow down. If the surface of the paint in the bucket where the paint is flowing back is level and smooth, then it is good to go.

Check out this paint additive on Amazon.

Should You Sand In Between Coats Of Paint?

Man's hand sanding plaster on a new new drywall installation

Yes, you should. Sanding between coats of paint allows the surface to be more adhesive, which means it will hold the next layer better. 180 to 220 grit sandpaper is the commonly used grit size when it comes to sanding through layers of paint. Remember to do this only when the paint is already dry. 

Check out this assorted grit sandpaper on Amazon.

How Many Coats Should Be Applied On Trim?

Usually, two to three coats of primer and paint are applied to the trim. This depends on the coverage and result that you want to achieve. Even if it is just one coat of trim paint, if it already has the shade of color you are opting for, then that is all good. 

Roller or Brush: Which Is Better To Paint Trim?

Outdoor portraits of young man cutting painting and repairing wooden boards

This depends on how big and detailed the trim's surface is. A roller is ideal for quickly applying paint on large or wide areas. However, since it is a flat, rolling tool, it cannot reach between spots or depth of carvings.

This is where the brush is better. It can cover even the smallest spots of a design with its flexible bristles.


Interior of a room with classic white double sliding raised doors against blue wall

To paint trim without brush marks, your paintbrush should be a nylon-polyester bristle, angled sash edge, 1 to 2 inches wide for narrow trims, 2 to 4 inches if vice versa. Also, do not apply too much pressure and stroke the brush in a long, continuous direction. 

Make sure to clean the whole area, especially the trim. Repair and sand its surface, so it is ready for the painting process. You can apply up to 3 coats, depending on how many layers it takes until you achieve the shade or color you want. 

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