Should You Paint Trim Before Installing Or After?

Wooden trim is a good support for the edges and corners of a room. If you want to paint the trim, what is the correct way? Should you paint it before or after installation? We're here to guide you! We've researched the answers.

It's better to paint the trim after the installation. The paint may become worn during the installation, the color may not blend with the walls, or it might be obvious the trim was painted first. However, this doesn't mean you couldn't paint the trim before installation.

In this article, we'll share with you some factors to consider when painting the trim. You'll learn the pros and cons of painting, and how the trim contributes to the house. We have so much more to talk about. So, continue reading!

A painter pulls of blue painter's tape from the wall to reveal a clean edge, Should You Paint Trim Before Installing Or After?

About Painting The Trim

The trim acts as a protector for the edges of the interior of the home. It is usually installed along the edges between the ceiling and the wall.

A ceiling cornice

For more ideas about when to paint the trim, see below for info you can rely on.

Painting Before Installation

Some homeowners prefer painting before installation, especially if the trim is thin. This is to avoid overlapping the wall with a different color of paint. Refer to the situations below about painting the trim before installation.

  • You can guarantee that no paint will ruin the color of the walls, specifically if they have a different shade than the trim.
  • If you don't want to install the trim after drying out the paint, keep it in a safe place.
  • Painting before installation can ruin the fittings. Because the paint may add up to the trim's thickness, depending on what paint you used.
  • The trims may not blend in color, especially if you did the painting of each trim on different days.

Paint After Installation

On the other hand, practical homeowners want to paint the trim after installation. This is to ensure a smooth blending of color and to preserve the quality until the interior is completed. Below are some likely scenarios when painting the trim after installation.

  • There is a risk that you may ruin the color of the walls if the trim is too narrow.
  • You can go cheaper if you decide to paint the trim and walls with the same color.
  • You'll be sure that the trim will fit perfectly along the edges. Because the paint can actually act as a sealant for tiny gaps.
  • The paint will last longer, since painting after installation is more recent than painting before installation.

With the scenarios above, it turns out that painting after installation is better. So, consider the consequences.

How To Paint The Trim

It's wise to paint the trims and the steps are very easy. You just need to decide whether to paint before or after the installation.

We'll discuss later about what paint should you use for the trims. However, prepare the following tools for painting:


You can use a small paintbrush for detailed painting.

See this paintbrush on Amazon.

Rubber Band

Rubber bands can help extract excessive paint. You just have to wipe the paintbrush on it.

See this rubber band bundle on Amazon.

Mask and Gloves

Be safe and wear a mask to avoid inhaling toxic chemicals. Wear gloves as well to protect your hands.

See this box of gloves on Amazon.

Old Cup

You actually don't need to buy it. Simply find an old cup for the paintbrush.

Old Cartons

Also, use an old carton to catch the paint droplets and to make cleaning the floor easier.

Masking Tape

It's exclusive only for painting after installing the trims. This is to protect the edges from overlapping paint.

See this masking tape on Amazon.


You'll need a ladder, or couple of chairs, to reach the installed trims.

See this portable ladder on Amazon.

The Steps

Should you decide to paint before installing the trim, follow these steps:

  1. Find an open area outside where you can paint. Place the old cartons on the ground.
  2. Pour paint into an old cup, then wrap the rubber band around the cup's mouth.
  3. Dip the paintbrush into the paint and extract the excess by wiping it on the rubber band.
  4. Start spreading the paint all over the trim. You can paint one side first.
  5. Set aside the painted trims to dry. Flip them later to paint the other side.

However, follow these steps if the trim is already installed:

  1. Apply a masking tape around the perimeter of the trim. Overlapping the tape for at least three times wider to make sure paint will not ruin the wall's color.
  2. Bend the cartons and tape them against the wall near the trim. This is to catch the paint droplets.
  3. On the old cup, pour the paint and wrap around the rubber.
  4. Extract the paint on the rubber when you drip the paintbrush.
  5. Apply the paint to the trims and let them dry.

Why Paint The Trim?

A simple interior cornice between wall and ceiling

You should know why it's worth painting the trim. There are reasons to convince you, specifically because of the protection it provides the house interior. See more details below.

Moisture Prevention

Molded ceiling

Paint can prevent moisture from passing through the walls, and the trims as well. Since trims are wood, they will absorb the paint and block tiny pores.

Moisture can cause blisters on paint. But considering that wood naturally has absorption panels, moisture will just cause discoloration and fading. These effects are less harmful than blisters, and it's easy to reapply paint than to replace the trim.

Protection Against Insects

Ant and termites in an edge of a trim or wall

Paint also helps protect the trim from invading insects. Wooden materials are attractive to mites and bugs, but insects cannot inhabit on them if you apply paint.

However, insects can live on the trim if you don't clean it. Dust off the trim regularly, so insects will not settle there.

Extended Lifespan

2 bedroom doors 1 for masterbedroom and guest

Although paint cannot permanently preserve the wood's quality, it can delay rotting. It's because the chemical components of paint, like polymers, can alter the wood's organic compounds.

What's more, paint can harden the trim and improve its durability, making it quite hard to snap with your hands. It can also prevent the wood from shrinking due to heat. So, paint can extend the wooden trim's lifespan.

What Paint Should You Use For the Trim?

Painting in blue

Paints differ in chemical components and texture. Given that paint has a lot of benefits, find what's best for your house's trims. You may refer to the common paints below to help you decide.

Semi-gloss Paint

You can use a semi-gloss paint to minimize dust accumulation, and for easy cleaning. It has a thick mixture that creates a hard layer of protection against discoloration. Also, it's shiny and can increase light reflection a bit. Semi-gloss paint is the best choice for trims, but you can still try other types.

See this semi-gloss paint on Amazon.

Latex Paint

Usually, latex paints are water-based. They dry easily after application, and are thinner in texture than semi-gloss paints. Latex paints are soluble to water and ideal for dry places, like internal walls. However, latex paints are more commonly used on concrete than wooden materials.

See this latex paint on Amazon.

Acrylic Paint

Contrasted to latex paints, acrylic paints are mostly chemical-based. Acrylic paints also dry quickly and are good for external walls. These are resistant to water and don't usually blister.

See this acrylic paint on Amazon.

How Long Does the Paint On Trim Last?

Depending on the type of paint, it may last 2-10 years. The exposure of trims to water leaks and heat can reduce a paint's lifespan.


A painter pulls of blue painter's tape from the wall to reveal a clean edge

We've talked about the difference between painting the trims before and after installation. That's why we've provided different steps for both choices.

You've learned to consider the consequences of painting before and after installing the trims. We also listed some paints you can choose.

Remember that painting has a lot of benefits, which we also discussed. Use the information you've learned throughout this article to maximize the purpose of the trims.

Have you enjoyed reading with us? We know you'll want to read these articles too:

How To Fill The Gap Between Door Trim And Wall?

How To Seal Gaps Under Kitchen Cabinets

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