#114 Paint the Woodwork

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Paint the Woodwork

As I look around my home, my first thought is that I must add this suggestion to my to-do list ASAP. How does the woodwork in a typical home get so beat up? You’d think a herd of antelope have charged through the doorways and against the chair rail in almost every room.

Stained Woodwork

Some people don’t like painted woodwork and have gone to great lengths for the cherry or walnut stained trim that comprises baseboards, door jams, and crown moulding throughout the house. Others, have cursed those oil based stains as they attempted to paint over them years later with washable latex. While stained trim is definitely beautiful, especially in older homes where the quality of wood used for trim was high end, it can be both dark and comfortable as well as dark and dreary. If dark and comfortable is the feel you want and have… read no further. If it’s dark and drab or if your woodwork is already painted – read on.

Colored Trim

In Colonial style homes, the tradition of painting trim a darker color than the walls is still practiced. Often, because dark colors draw your attention, when there is detailed trim that acts as part of the room decor (dental molding, etc) the contrast of it against a light wall has an artistic feel. In many of the modern homes where trim was mass produced, it’s rather nondescript and acts more as a simple frame for a door or window opening so it is commonly white.

White Trim

White may not be white – or so says Better Home and Garden Magazine. In an online article, they remind us that ‘white’ comes in a variety of tones that vary across a spectrum of cool to warm; each one complimenting the primary wall color differently. They recommend taking a paint chip of the primary wall color to the paint store to see which ‘white’ works the best and then make it consistent throughout the room. Personally, I prefer a white, white – on the cool side throughout the whole house. It seems chaotic to choose a different white color for each room.


Perhaps the most important part of choosing a paint for trim is knowing to get a hardy, washable paint. This is where quality matters. Bob Villa, one of televisions most beloved home improvement specialists, suggests a alkyd-oil based paint in either semi or high gloss for most traditional household trim work. It is by far, the most durable and the most washable – tolerant of harsh cleaners. Personally, cleaning up with oil-based paints is cumbersome and it doesn’t come off easily after drying on areas it wasn’t supposed to be on in the first place (my hands, the floor, the doorknobs, etc) so I use water based paints in semi-gloss but go for high quality, high durability. Behr paints have been rated highly by consumer reports over the years and have been satisfactory in my personal experience. It goes on well and blends well if all I am doing is random touch ups.

Take a walk through your house and glance around at the trim in each room and then grab a paint brush and a fresh can of paint and…

Paint the woodwork.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

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