The Do’s And Don’ts Of Exterior Trim Painting 

When it comes to home improvement projects, painting the exterior trim is an effective way to give your house a fresh, polished look without a complete overhaul. The trim often acts as the decorative lining that defines windows, doors, and rooflines. Painting it with care and precision can enhance its character, boosting the overall appearance of your home. However, it’s not as straightforward as grabbing a brush and slapping on some paint. There are essential do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

So, whether you’re planning a DIY trim paint job or are searching for professionals to delegate the task, here are some essential guidelines to ensure your trim looks professionally done.

1. DO: Clean The Surface Thoroughly

Before even opening that paint can, start by cleaning the trim. Over time, it accumulates dust, dirt, and sometimes mold or mildew. These contaminants can prevent the paint from adhering properly, leading to premature chipping and peeling. So, give the trim a good scrub using a mild detergent. For mold or mildew, a solution of bleach and water might be necessary. Alternatively, try search for ‘painters near me’ to get a local pro to do this for you. 

2. DON’T: Skip Primer

While there are paints available that claim to be a “paint and primer in one”, nothing beats the adhesion, stain-blocking, and durability of a dedicated primer. Especially for trim work, using a good-quality primer ensures the paint will stick better and last longer. It also provides a uniform base for the paint, so the final color is more consistent and vibrant.

3. DO: Choose The Right Brush

While rollers might be suitable for large flat surfaces, the intricacies of trim require the control and precision that only a brush can provide. Opt for a high-quality, angled sash brush. It will make it easier to paint straight lines and get into those tight corners and crevices.

4. DON’T: Forget To Caulk And Putty

After cleaning and before priming, inspect the trim for any gaps, cracks, or holes. Fill them with a good-quality exterior caulk or wood filler. This not only ensures a smoother finish but also protects the trim from moisture, preventing rot and extending the life of the paint job.

5. DO: Tape Off Adjacent Surfaces

To achieve crisp, clean lines, use painter’s tape to mask off windows, doors, and any adjacent surfaces that you don’t want to get paint on. This not only makes the job look more professional but also saves time on cleanup.

6. DON’T: Paint In Direct Sunlight Or Extreme Weather

Painting in direct sunlight can cause the paint to dry too quickly, leading to brush marks and an uneven finish. It’s best to paint on a cloudy day or when the sun isn’t directly shining on the surface you’re working on. Additionally, avoid painting on extremely humid, rainy, or windy days. These conditions can interfere with the paint’s drying process and overall finish.

7. DO: Opt For A Semi-Gloss Or Satin Finish

For exterior trim, semi-gloss or satin finishes are popular choices. They offer a slight sheen that highlights the trim, making it stand out. These finishes are also easier to clean and more resistant to wear and tear than flat or matte paints.

8. DON’T: Rush The Process

Like all good things, a quality paint job takes time. Don’t rush through the prep work or the painting itself. Give the primer and paint ample time to dry between coats. Rushing can lead to visible brush marks, drips, and an overall sloppy appearance.


Painting the exterior trim of your home can seem daunting, but with the right approach and attention to detail, it can be a rewarding project that enhances the beauty and value of your home. 

By following these do’s and don’ts, you can ensure your trim not only looks fantastic but also stands the test of time. Whether you tackle the job yourself or entrust it to professionals, the key is in the preparation, patience, and choosing quality materials. The results, without a doubt, will be worth the effort!