Tips for Painting Exterior Trim


If you have gotten to the trim work on your exterior paint project, you are almost finished with exterior painting work. Painting the exterior trim can really make you feel satisfied because you are finally bringing your project to a close.

Painting the trim boards is a time consuming process. So don’t get impatient now that you made it this far. Patience can pay off here. The trim brings the look of the home together so it’s worth the care!

If the exterior house trim is done very carefully, your trim painting will keep your house looking new and protect it from the elements for years to come. It is best to work from top to bottom, leaving the foundation for last. The following are some simple tips that will help when painting the exterior trim.

What can be trim?

Areas of trim used on most homes can be defined as any attached surface that isn’t painted the same as the body, main color, and is highlighted with a contrasting color, defining its outline.

  • Fascia boards
  • Gutters and downspouts
  • Soffits
  • Corner boards and belly bands
  • Windows and trim wrapping around windows
  • Doors and frames

Wrap or Face Off the Trim

After deciding the colors for your exterior trim project, you need to decide what amount will be used for the body and how much will be used for trim. One of the more common, quickest and easiest ideas is to use the color you choose for the body to cover the outside edges of the trim and apply the color you choose for trim to the face only, known as Facing off Trim.

Another idea is to paint the face and edges next to the body with the trim color. This is known as Wrapping. Wrapping is the more time consuming option of the two.

Finally, you may prefer to combine wrapping and facing. To combine the two options, it is best to use the wrapping of the trim at a person’s eye level for depth and use the facing on the remainder of project.

Brushing or Rolling the Details

The details or the trim work of your paint job can be the most tedious and time consuming part of your paint project but with a good brush and roller, and a little patience, it will put the finishing touches on your exterior paint project. Most people prefer to use an old fashioned brush when painting the exterior trim work, but for your wider trim you may want to use a roller to make the project go a little quicker.

For your narrow trim work, it may be best to use a three inch or smaller brush. When painting the fascia boards and gutters, it is best to use an angled sash brush. On your wider fascia boards, flat areas and miscellaneous trim work, it may be best to use a three to four inch trim roller. On the edges of the flat areas, you want to go back and use a brush.

Basic Guidelines

If you follow a few basic guidelines and tips for painting your exterior trim, the process can be easy and painless. The point is to use the method easiest for you.

  • Large amounts of exterior trim with small areas of siding – Consider spraying the trim and rolling the siding. Always use the easiest application method on the largest areas that need to be painted.
  • Many Victorian homes have very large wood trim pieces on the front of the home and possibly on the sides as well. The window sashes can be masked allowing the frame and any associated trim to be sprayed. Paint the window sashes by hand with a brush. Using this method can save considerable amounts of time.
  • Assume some touch-up will be necessary in order to have perfect lines. Go ahead and allow a small amount of the trim color to overlap the siding. After the trim has dried use the siding color to achieve a straight line.
  • A small paint shield or drywall knife can help with straight lines. Be prepared to experiment.
  • Down spouts can be either the trim color or body color. If the downspout is mounted to the trim loosen the clamps and paint underneath with the trim color then remount and finish the downspout with the same color. This method is easier and will allow a clean straight line on the edge of the trim.Downspouts the same color as the body will still need the top, first, elbow painted with the trim color. Stop the color were the first elbow attaches to the downspout.

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