17 Tips for Painting Exterior Trim

Photo: Ron Cogswell/flickr

Choose Your Paint Colors

  1. Do you love vivid colors? They can be overwhelming in large quantities, but used only on the trim, they'll give your home character and charm. (Check with your HOA, which may stipulate permissible paint color.)

  2. White is classic, especially for an older or historic residence, but comes in more shades than you'd imagine. Match carefully to your siding. For example, if your house is painted slate blue, select white with a gray or blue undertone.

  3. If you are lucky enough to live in a house built of brick or stone, pick up one of the tones in these materials when you choose paint for your trim.

  4. Want to be "on trend"? Very popular right now are monochromatic schemes -- combining different shades of the same color, darker and lighter or cooler and warmer.

  5. Another interesting way to update your home's exterior trim is to paint it with Pantone's current Color of the Year.

  6. Whatever you do, don't set your heart on a hue you've only seen via the Internet. When you go the dealer, take a "face to face" look at the paint swatches themselves; the color may look different from what you saw on your screen.

  7. To keep your house's look pleasingly polished, use a maximum of three different colors for the house exterior and trim.

Decide What to Paint

  1. Begin with your windowsills and frames, the basic starting point for painting exterior trim.

  2. When you paint the shutters, do your window boxes in the same shade. You can even color-coordinate your plantings for an upscale, unified effect. 

  3. A freshly painted front door adds curb appeal and welcomes visitors to your home. Coordinate or contrast with your mailbox, porch railings, posts, and columns.

  4. To display your house number bright and clear, why not paint it onto an oversized plant pot right next to your entrance?

  5. Don't forget the front steps and garage door. They're very visible to anyone approaching your house and can make or break that all-important first impression. Just for fun, touch up the playhouse and birdhouses in your yard, making them mini versions of your home.

Follow These Painting Tips

13. Clean and sand before you start any exterior painting project. A fine-grit sanding sponge will get into all the nooks and crannies of your trim. If you're a perfectionist, you might also want to sand between coats, for the smoothest finish imaginable.

14. Experienced painting contractors agree to disagree on which to paint first -- trim and shutters or the exterior walls. If you're going to spray paint your house, save the trim for last so that splatters won't show. Otherwise, you can paint the trim first, edges and all, to make it really pop. Whichever you choose, be sure you don't end up placing a ladder atop newly painted -- and still wet! -- siding.

15. Try mixing in a paint extender; this will slow down the drying time, which helps you to avoid unsightly brush strokes and lap marks.

16. For the neatest, most professional paint job on shutters and doors, take them down and place them on your (well-protected patio) before you begin, if at all possible. Rehang them once the paint is dry.

17. Taping windows before you paint frames and sills is a major hassle and, quite frankly, a waste of time. Instead, after the paintwork has dried, use a razor blade to gently scrape off any drips.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

Updated April 15, 2018.

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