Skip to content

How to Paint Stained Trim

Revamping your home’s appearance by painting stained trim can be a rewarding and transformative DIY project. While stained trim adds warmth and charm, it can sometimes contribute to a dated or dark ambiance. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the process of painting over stained trim, including the necessary preparations and techniques to achieve a professional, long-lasting finish. We’ll cover topics such as sanding, deglossing, addressing wood knots, caulking gaps and seams, applying a stain-blocking primer, choosing the right finish, and more. Additionally, we’ll share some helpful tips and tricks to ensure a seamless and successful painting experience. So, let’s dive in and learn how to breathe new life into your stained trim.

Reasons to Paint Over Stained Trim

There are several reasons why you might choose to paint over stained trim, including:

  • Updating the look of your home: A fresh coat of paint can make a significant difference in the overall appearance of your living space, giving it a more modern and updated feel.
  • Lightening a room: If your stained trim makes your room feel dark or closed in, painting it a lighter color can create a brighter, more open atmosphere.
  • Covering imperfections: Painting trim can hide scratches, dings, and other minor imperfections that have accumulated over the years.
  • Adding a personal touch: Painting your trim allows you to customize your space and add your unique personality to your home.

How to Paint Over Stained Trim


Before you start painting, it’s essential to sand the stained trim to remove any surface imperfections and create a smooth finish. Use a fine-grit sandpaper (180 to 220 grit) and sand the trim lightly, being careful not to damage the wood. Sanding not only smooths out the surface but also helps in creating a better bond for the primer and paint. Make sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to prevent scratches. After sanding, use a tack cloth or a damp rag to remove any dust and debris from the surface.


After sanding, use a deglosser or liquid sander to remove any remaining gloss from the trim’s surface. This step ensures better adhesion of the primer and paint. To use a deglosser, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which typically involve applying the deglosser to a clean rag and then wiping it onto the trim surface. Allow the deglosser to sit for the recommended time before wiping it off with a clean cloth. This process helps to break down the glossy finish, making it easier for the primer and paint to adhere to the surface.

See also  Can a Weed Sprayer Be Used as a Paint Sprayer?

Cleaning the trim

After deglossing, cleaning the trim thoroughly to remove any remaining dust, debris, or residue from the surface is essential. This step ensures proper adhesion of the primer and paint. Use a damp cloth or tack cloth to wipe down the trim, making sure it’s free from any contaminants before moving on to the next step.

Addressing wood knots

If your trim has any knots, it’s crucial to seal them with a shellac-based primer to prevent bleed-through and discoloration of your new paint. Wood knots contain natural resins that can bleed through paint over time, causing unsightly stains. To prevent this issue, apply a thin coat of shellac-based primer directly to the knots using a small brush. Allow the primer to dry completely before moving on to the next step. This will create a barrier that prevents the resins from seeping through your paint.

Caulking gaps and seams

Before painting, inspect the trim for any gaps or seams where it meets the wall or other pieces of trim, such as at corners or joints. Fill these gaps with a paintable, flexible caulk to create a seamless appearance and prevent drafts or moisture from entering. Use a caulking gun to apply the caulk, and then smooth it with a wet finger or a damp sponge to achieve a clean, even finish. Allow the caulk to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding to the next step.

Applying stain-blocking primer

Apply a high-quality stain-blocking primer to the trim, ensuring even coverage. This step is crucial, as it provides a barrier between the stained wood and the new paint, preventing any staining or discoloration. A stain-blocking primer also helps to create a more uniform surface for the paint, leading to a smoother and more professional-looking finish. Use a brush or roller to apply the primer, following the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate drying time. Once the primer is dry, lightly sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper to ensure a smooth and even base for your paint. Wipe down the trim with a tack cloth or damp rag to remove any dust before applying your paint.

See also  Do Paint Sprayers Make a Mess?

Choosing the right finish

When selecting paint, opt for a semi-gloss or satin finish, as these finishes are more durable and easier to clean than matte finishes. Semi-gloss and satin finishes are also more resistant to moisture, making them a better choice for areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Additionally, these finishes provide a subtle sheen that enhances the trim’s appearance while still being easy to maintain. Make sure to choose a high-quality paint for the best results, as it will offer better coverage and a more consistent finish.

Applying the paint

After priming and allowing the surface to dry completely, it’s time to apply your chosen paint. Stir the paint thoroughly to ensure an even color and consistency. Using a high-quality angled brush or roller, apply the paint in long, even strokes, working in the direction of the wood grain. For the best results, apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat, allowing each coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the next one. Two or three coats should provide sufficient coverage and a smooth, durable finish. Once you have applied the final coat, let the paint dry completely before reattaching any hardware or using the trim.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use painter’s tape to protect adjacent surfaces from paint spills and drips.
  • Invest in high-quality paintbrushes and rollers for a smoother and more professional finish.
  • Consider using a paint additive like Floetrol to minimize brush marks and improve the paint’s flow.
  • Always paint in a well-ventilated area to reduce fumes and ensure proper drying.
  • Apply at least two coats of paint for full coverage and a more durable finish.


Following the steps and advice outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can successfully paint over stained trim, achieving a professional and durable finish that revitalizes your home’s appearance. Proper preparation, attention to detail, and the use of high-quality products are all essential components of a successful trim painting project. With patience and perseverance, you can transform your stained trim into a beautiful, fresh feature that enhances your living space and reflects your unique style. Embrace the opportunity to refresh and personalize your home by painting over stained trim, and enjoy the lasting benefits of your hard work and creativity.