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DIY: Window Trim Painting Tricks

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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.

Tips for Painting Window Trim Neatly




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  1. Great tips! Painting trim is not my favorite either. I don’t even like painting walls. Give me a piece of furniture any day of the week! … We kicked off the new year with a Be Inspired link party. Hope you’ll come by and share sometime!

  2. I love your fabric! I have the exact fabric in blue and white for my family room curtains and LOVE it. You will not be disappointed.

    And thanks for the painting tips! I also hate painting trim but love painting walls.

  3. I don’t so much hate painting trim as I do windows, Diane! Also for the reasons you mentioned {the up down of the sashes, not getting paint on the glass}. You’ve given a lot of useful tips here that I will definitely be keeping in mind. I can’t wait to see the wall color and how you use that fabric!