DIY: Window Trim Painting Tricks

I have a confession, one that I know a DIY’er should be ashamed of.  I have kept my problem to myself for some time, but now the truth must come out since I am redoing my studioffice and had to confront my problem head on. I dislike painting trim and woodwork!  Dislike is not a strong enough word – I truly, absolutely – hate it! I’d rather go to the dentist than have to paint trim, especially window trim!  Urghhhh…

I have lived in my house for 18 years and have only painted the trim in my kitchen, hall bath, and the baseboard and one doorway in my studioffice where I added the Faux Transom, yes I know – downright shameful.

How to make a faux window transom

All kidding aside -I do hate to paint trim and am lucky that the builder used a good oil based paint on all the trim in my house and it has held up great.  I have cleaned all of it with soap and water over the years, but have never painted it.  What I don’t like about the trim – it is Antique White and I have always wanted White White since the day we moved in. That tells you just how much I hate to paint trim!

How to paint window trim

With the new colors I am doing the studioffice in- the antique white just won’t go. I had to FINALLY paint the window trim.  I figured I would tackle it first, before I did anything else to the room, that way I wouldn’t find a reason not to get it painted.

The reason I dislike painting windows so much is that there is way too much detail and you have to be careful not to paint the sashes shut.  Lots of up and down of the sashes, waiting for them to dry, moving the sashes again, then once they are done, you get to move on to the jambs.  Painting window sashes in the Winter is not necessarily a good thing, either.

I tried to find something to be happy about and then I remembered I could take the mullion grids out – they don’t need to be painted.  That made the job a teeny bit easier.


I normally would use painter’s tape on the wall to protect it from getting any trim paint on it, but my brother-in-law who is a professional painter told me there is no reason to do that. All you need is a 1-1/2-inch stiff angled brush that are made to cut-in. I bought a Purdy one at Lowes.  It made a HUGE difference. The stiff bristles are very precision like and don’t splay out.

How to paint like a pro

To help keep the glass paint free as I painted, I learned a tip many years ago to add a thin coat of Vaseline on the glass right where it meets the trim. I found it too greasy and tried chap stick. It was less greasy and easy to apply with a Q-tip  When all the paint is dry and you clean the window, any paint that may have gotten on the glass wipes away easily – no razor blade scraper needed.

How to paint window trim

I also knew I was going to paint the walls a color called Pink Petal White. It sounds pretty, but in reality it just looks like white, but has a very faint cast of pink to it.  Since the walls were going to be painted white, I wanted the white trim to stand out from the white walls so I used an extra shiny gloss white paint made by Glidden.

Call me crazy, but this is an oil based paint. Since there was oil base already on the trim, I knew I would have to prime it if I used latex, so I went with this super shiny gel oil paint. It is very thick – so thick that a paint stirrer will stand upright in it.   It took awhile to get used to painting with it, but I got the hang of it and am very happy with the results.  The only downside of using oil based paint – it smells, takes forever to dry, and you need mineral spirits to clean your brushes.  I was willing to put up with the downside to get the super shiny finish it produced.

I also put a thick rubber band around the paint can, so I could wipe the excess paint off the brush instead of using the rim. This helps keep the rim clean so the lid can go back on the can perfectly when you are done painting.

Paint-Can-Painting Trick


Back before the holidays, I was asked if I would like to try out the new Precision Tips Q-tips.   I raised my hand high and said yes, yes, yes.  They are part of my paint toolbox. When I worked in display, I traveled with my display co-workers to  other stores to paint feature walls.   We always had a big box of regular  Q-tips in our supplies so that we could quickly clean up edges and paint  bleed through on the hundreds of walls we painted.

Precision Tips Q-Tips Ideas

The pointy tips are perfect, much better than the way I used to use the regular shape ones  – wetting the tip and twirling it into a point so I could easily clean up  where I got a smudge of wall paint on the ceiling right where the ceiling meets the wall.  Having the pointy tip makes it easy to swipe right into the crevice along the ceiling line and clean up the smudge without affecting the wet paint on the wall. Without the pointy tip you would end up wiping some of the wet wall paint off trying to take care of the smudge.

I keep them in my pocket when I paint – as I seem to always get paint where it doesn’t belong.  Here I accidently got a few brush marks on the wall when painting the trim.  A quick swipe with the point in the crevice cleans up the paint perfectly and doesn’t touch the wet paint on the trim.

Painting Tricks and Tips


Precision- Tips Q-tips painting tricks


I am loving the newly painted shiny window trim, the only downside of painting trim is that now where the newly painted trim meets the old around the doorways – the old color looks dingy. Once you start painting trim – you have to keep going and going so it all looks the same.   I think I see more trim painting in the near future.

How to paint window trim

Now that I have the trim paint behind me, I can move on to the more interesting and fun aspects of decorating.

Here is a sneak peek of one of the fabrics I plan to use in my studioffice.

Robert Allen Fabric

How do you feel about painting trim in your house? Any tips or painting tricks to share.





  1. Kelly says

    Hi Momma-la!

    Your blog is…as always, awesome! I really did use the rubber band on the paint can thing the other day while painting a mural…and it was amazing! The paint here is awful awful awful oil based stuff and I don’t have a paint can opener, so the old cans were pretty much impossible to open…but now all my new cans are nice and clean :)

  2. says

    Just found your blog through pinterest. I love the faux transom and your tips. Thanks so much for posting. I’m definitely following you from now on! :)

  3. Sheryll & Critters. says

    I admire the patience you have to do all of these updates. Trim, I have done it, don’t want to do it again, but I know I have to sometime in the near future. Great job and always you are so neat and it looks so perfect.

    • says

      Hi Debbie- It is nice to know I am not alone in my dislike of painting trim. It does look so much better now that it is painted. Maybe that will give me the boost I need to do the rest of the house. :)

  4. MelissaJane says

    I hate painting windows (don’t really mind the other trim), but I LOVE the way it looks when finished! I am thrilled about the Vaseline/Chapstik trick – I cannot wait to try it. I’ve been putting off a painting project because of this and now I’m all excited to do it! Going to invest in a good stiff brush, too. I always wind up using cheap brushes and now you’ve given me a reason to get a good one. Taping off takes SO long! The Q-tips, too – this whole post just made my day.

    I got my copy of your book the other day and I’ve really enjoyed it! The photos made me laugh – the 80s and 90s don’t seem so long ago, but wow do the fabrics look dated. Ideas are great, though! So glad I found your blog, and the book as well.

    • says

      Hi Melissa –

      Thanks for the nice note. The best painting tip ever is to get the best brushes. You may spend more on them initially, but if you take care of them -they will lasts years. In the long run you are not only saving yourself money, but getting a better paint finish on all of your projects.

      It is funny how fast fabric and color schemes date – every 5-7 years. Pretty soon Oil Rubbed Bronze and Quatrefoil print fabric are going to go the way of flowery chintz and bows. :)

  5. Carla says

    I just sweated out trying to tape the windows in my spare bedroom. Started cussing and decided to Google. So glad your blog came up on the hit list. My sister will appreciate the fact that I decided not to give up on redoing the room before she moves in.

  6. Regina says

    When preparing to paint the ceiling, I come down the wall from the ceiling about 4 to 6 inches with a line of painters tape all around the walls. This gives the illusion of the ceiling being larger. Better yet, I always paint the ceiling the the walls the same color – no more white ceilings!

  7. says

    Saw this tip about the Chap-Stick on the Hunted Interior blog. Hadn’t heard of using that or petroleum jelly before! Luckily our house was built new so I won’t have to paint windows for a while, but I was just this week scraping paint off our windows because the professional painters didn’t do it. We’ve lived here for six years and it finally started annoying me!

    Glad to have the reco on the trim brush, too. Even when painting walls, I hate cutting in. I bought a 2″ angled brush before I just painted our powder room, but it did not work well. I’ll have to try out that 1.5″ trim paint brush your brother-in-law likes.

  8. says

    Duct tape over the top of the can works much better than a rubber band, which has to go under the can. Duct tape is stiffer, so it’s easier to wipe a brush across, and there are no paint-covered flying rubber bands when you are ready to put the lid on :)

  9. Kimber says

    We also have oil based paint trim that I would love to paint white. What do you know about oil paint yellowing over time? I love the finish of oil and it would be a lot less work, since it is painting oil over oil. What do you think? Are you worried about yellowing?

    • says

      Oil paint will yellow or darken over time, but it takes a looooong time and it is usually when it is in dark rooms. On light and bright areas – less yellowing. If you don’t want to use oil, just apply a good primer over the oil. I use Glidden Gripper or Kilz Original, then use latex.

  10. Sahar GH says

    Just bought a 100 year old house and need to paint lots of windows and walls. I will definitely use your tips. I love your wall color. Do you remember what it is called and what brand it was?

    • says

      I think it was Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige SW 6106. The walls are no longer that color and I don’t have the paint can anymore, but that is the name that comes to mind. Enjoy decorating your new to you old house.

  11. Annette says

    I have a 30 year old home with wood trim. I would love to paint it white, but I put in all new windows just 5 years ago and ordered then in wood finish to match the trim, not thinking about painting the trim at the time. Will my beautiful new pella windows be ruined if I paint them white. And if that’s an option, what kind of prep do I need tondo before painting them?
    Thanks for your help!!!

    • says

      Hi Annette – I have Andersen windows that were painted antique white years ago and I am in the process of painting them white white. You have a slightly different scenario with since yours are wood and stained. You will not ruin them if you take the time to paint them the right way.

      I would go over the surface with a sanding block to rough up the wood a bit, then use a stain blocking primer like Kilz Original. It is oil based, but you can use latex paint over it. It also dries in 30 minutes unlike most oil-based primers. It will block the wood tannins and stain from seeping through the paint. Once that is dry – 2 very light coats of a good brand name paint. Let each coat dry before applying the next. Use a high quality 1 – 1/2″ angled brush – I use the Purdy brand. After painting the sashes move them up and down every 15 minutes while they are drying so the windows do not get painted shut. It takes a while to do one window, but once you get the hang of it, it will go faster.


  1. Custom Glass Products (CGP)

    DIY: Window Trim Painting Tricks – In My Own Style

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