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How to Paint Moldings: Freshen Up Your Home with a New Color

Moldings act as a picture frame for any room. They can lay a border between walls and floors, emphasize high ceilings or just make a room pop. Painting them can be an important way to give a fresh new look to a room. Here’s your step by step guide.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Prepare, prepare, prepare

The first step in painting anything is preparing, and if you do this step right, the rest will be easy as pie. First off, you’ll need masking tape. Carefully tape off your moldings. Keep in mind that tape doesn’t naturally like to stick to either carpeting or textured sheetrock walls, so you’ll need to go over the tape to make it stick (a putty knife is a great way to make sure you’re covered). Next, you’ll probably want dropcloths across the floor to protect them from any drips.

You want to take some very fine sandpaper to your moldings if they’re already painted. This takes off the shine of the previous paint to allow for better paint adhesion. Just cover the surface lightly until you don’t see a glossy shine anymore.

Now take a wet rag and wipe down your moldings.

After you’ve done all these steps, you can begin with the priming stage.

Prime away

Priming is important on moldings because you want an extra-durable, solid finish. Brush on primer with a synthetic brush, and allow to dry for several hours before going back to paint. Make sure that you increase circulation in the room to make for safe breathing and for quick drying of the paint.

Paint Moldings

Spread it on

Now it’s time for the paint. A word on color: While it’s tempting to pick a wild color for some color junkies, it’s usually recommended to stick with white or another neutral color on the trim and paint the walls a bright color for a more classic look. That said, have fun with the color you pick and how it interacts with the wall color.

Pick a paint that’s high-gloss finish, because that’s the most durable finish and moldings tend to get bumped quite frequently in everyday use.

Most moldings have curves and grooves, if they’re decorative. This means that a first coat should be done with a synthetic brush and you should focus on the grooves, not worrying about painting the flat, flush surfaces that you can get with a roller later. Just focus on the grooves for now.

After your first coat has dried into the grooves on your molding, take a small foam roller (they’re very inexpensive at the hardware store) and roll the paint over the top of the moldings. You may need to do two coats, but rolling will give your paint a smooth, professional finish that you wouldn’t be able to get with a brush.

Trim and doors

You’ll notice as you start a project like this that you often find the molding blending into the trim and doors in a room. It’s best if those finishes all match. So when you’re ready, go through the same process with doors and trim around those doors to complete the look.

Un-prep and enjoy!

About an hour after you’re done painting, peel the masking tape off and pick up your dropcloths. Continue to increase air circulation in the room for 1 to 2 days to ensure full drying and then enjoy your fresh new moldings!