Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to Paint Dark Window and Door Trim

So on Thursday, I posted the reveal photos of my girls' rooms and got this question from a fellow UD alum:

Ok I am beyond impressed and must beg your advice for how you did the windows. The windows in our house look alot like those - same ugly dark brown wood trim, etc. I desperately want to paint them but am not at all confident on how to do it. Are the windows in the originals the same as in the redo? In other words, did you paint the interior trim as well or did you go buy new windows with white interiors? Second, when painting the outside trim (the framework part) did you remove the wood first and then sand and paint or did you just leave it on the wall and do it. Ours is such cheap, crappy wood that I honestly don't think it could be removed and then put back up, I think it would crack or something so if I do this, I have to paint while it's nailed to the wall - is this possible or not?? Finally, our bedroom doors are all the same ugly dark wood so while I think I'm gonna just buy new doors, the door frames would have to be painted - any experience with this??
Emily C

I started responding in the combox and then I was all "Holy cow.  This is as long as a blog post!"

So I made it into one (clever, right?).  Here goes...

First, for reference, here's one of the windows before and after:
1. The window frames in the original are the same as the ones in the redo but the actual windows are new.  We replaced 13 windows throughout the house before our first winter here so our children wouldn't die of frost bite or other cold-induced ailment.  So they still had black frames but had white on the horizontal interior portions.

p.s. For anyone in southwest Michigan looking to replace their windows, we used Best Value Windows.  Their prices were reasonable, their work was fast and good, and their warranty is excellent.  Definitely a good choice!

2. We did not remove or sand any of the trim before painting.  Removing would have almost certainly resulted in the craptastic disaster you described, while sanding would probably have been a good idea.  But I was paranoid since I'm all 523 months pregnant and stuff and didn't want to be inhaling any paint dust or anything. So yes, totally possible to paint while it's still on the wall!  I highly recommend it, in fact.

3. Yes, we definitely had to paint the door frames (if you look at the before/after comparison of the closet in the reveal post, you'll see the difference, but they're the very same frames and doors). We did the same as with the windows- left the trim up and didn't sand at all.  It was hugely time consuming and took a bunch of coats but totally worth it.  Getting new doors themselves instead of painting the old ones is probably a way better idea, but we had free paint and no free doors, so we had to go with more annoying option.

For the windows and doors both, we first cleaned them using a water/vinegar solution.  Then we did two coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 water based primer followed by two coats of a generic bright white semi gloss paint.

Another note: We prime everything (the room and trim) all at the same time.  Then we do the final coats of trim before we put up the room color.  For me it's easier to paint over any white smudges that get onto the wall than to try and paint white over any wall color that might get onto the trim.  So I do the trim, wait for it to dry, then tape it off and go for the walls.

Favorite supplies:

-2" wide (or wider) blue painter's tape.
Anything narrower won't protect your other surfaces from the width of a paint roller

-2" long handled angled bristle brush and a 1.5" short handled straight bristle brush
-Standard 3/8" nap roller for trim.  1/2" for textured walls (like paneling).

Okay, not these days (sadly) but if you can swing it there's not much that's better than a cold can of cheap beer after you finish painting.  Or during.  I'm not picky.

And there you go.  I know how frustrating it can be to live in a fixer while you're fixing.  Hope you can make your redo happen, Emily!

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  1. Also, if you're less reckless than I am about painting trim, they make something called a "paint shield". It's a long piece of metal with a plastic handle and you can get one for 8 bucks.

    1. I have never even heard of such a thing! No, no....ghetto style all the way.

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