When most people think of interior painting, they think about walls and rollers. Painting your interior walls is a ubiquitous DIY home project to update a room or give your new home more style. The other part of interior painting is done less often and is more difficult as a DIY: painting your doors and trim.

You may feel fairly comfortable painting your interior walls, but trim and doors are another story. Painting trim requires a lot more precision and control than rolling paint on walls. You must use a brush, and proper technique to have a smooth finish. Plus, trim paint is typically satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss These paints are unforgiving when it comes to imperfections.

At Select Painting, our experienced pros paint doors and trim that will complement your walls and design. We have steady hands and eagle eyes that give smooth brush strokes with no bubbles. Here are some tips from our painting professionals to help you learn how to paint trim and how to paint a door.

Selecting the Right Paint

When beginning an interior painting project, the first step to take is choosing your paint. There is more to choosing the right paint than its color. You’ll want to make sure your paint’s finish matches your aesthetic goals and your level of expertise in painting.

Three Types of Finishes

High-Gloss: this paint finish is very shiny and will reflect light. Trim, doors, and other objects painted with high-gloss paint will grab attention in the room. The con: high-gloss paint is unforgiving of mistakes.

If you don’t sand your wood perfectly smooth, or if you have air bubbles or debris in your paint, or your brush strokes are uneven, these mistakes will be obvious. High-gloss finishes done well are as smooth as glass and have an elegant look.

Semi-Gloss: this paint finish is fairly standard, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. With less shine than high-gloss, this paint is a bit easier to work with yet still gives a subtle sheen. It also wipes down easily for clean-up.

Satin: most people are familiar with satin, also known as eggshell finish for their wall paint. Trim paint can come in satin finish as well, and it has very little shine, just a hint of a luster.

Painting your trim with a satin finish helps it to blend into the walls and other features. It’s also the most forgiving of imperfections in the wood or the unsteadiness of your hand.

What is your goal for your trim and doors

Are you looking for a traditional look with the trim designed to stand out as an architectural feature in the room? Or a more sleek contemporary look with crisp lines? Your style will play a role in what paint you choose.

If you want to deemphasize the trim and have it blend in with the walls, then you’ll want to select a satin finish. Conversely, if you want to highlight the trim, choose a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish, usually in a contrasting color.

What is your Level of Painting Expertise?

Are you a beginning painter, or an experienced DIY home handyman? High-gloss paint looks lovely but requires an experienced painter to apply if you want the sleek, shiny, perfectly smooth finish. Satin finish paint is the easiest to use if you are not a pro.


Gather your painting supplies before you begin. You’ll need:

  • Drop cloths and/or plastic to cover the floor and furniture and protect from drips or spills
  • Brushes (2” angled brush)
  • Damp sponge
  • Sandpaper (100 grit)
  • Spackling and spackling knife
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint
  • Paint tray (optional)


When learning how to paint a door or how to paint trim, there are two main steps: preparation and application.

Preparing to paint

  1. Lay down the drop clothes on the floor, and over fixtures, in the area you will paint.
  2. Using the damp sponge, wipe down all the trim to remove any dirt or grime.
  3. Use the spackle and putty knife to fill any holes, cracks, or seams in the trim.
  4. After the spackle dries, use your sandpaper to sand the trim smooth. Rub your hand along behind areas you’ve sanded to feel any rough spots.
  5. Rinse out your damp sponge and wipe down the trim again to remove all dust.
  6. Apply painter’s tape to the edge of the trim along the wall, taking care not to attach it to the trim. Press the putty knife to the edge of the painter’s tape to ensure it adheres well and to prevent bleed-through of the paint to the trim.
  7. For doors, remove it from its hinges and lay it across sawhorses. Wipe down the door, paying attention to the corners of the panels, if present. As with trim, fill any holes, sand, and wipe again.

Applying the Paint

  1. Using a paint stick, thoroughly mix the paint and pour a small amount into your paint tray.
  2. Dip your angled brush into the paint, only covering about ½ inch to 1 inch of the brush.
  3. Wipe excess paint off the brush using the side of the tray. This technique will help avoid drips during painting.
  4. Beginning in a corner, apply the paint to the trim with short, horizontal strokes of the brush. Without applying more paint to the brush, smooth over the short brush strokes with a single brush stroke in one long motion.
  5. Reload your brush about every 12 inches or so. Repeat until the trim is complete.
  6. For doors, begin by painting the panels, starting with the angled edges. Use the same technique of short brush strokes followed by long smooth strokes. Smooth the paint from the top to the bottom of the door in areas not subdivided by panels.

Exterior Door Paint and Trim Paint

Painting your front door or trim outside can give your home a unique look that will catch the attention of people passing by. A brightly, or contrasting door and trim will make a statement and give you a chance to show off your personal style.

If you are interested in painting an exterior door or trim, you will want to ensure you are using exterior paint. You will want the paint to stand up to the elements and keep its dramatic color for years to come. The steps for an exterior door paint job are the same as interior.

You will also want to ensure that the color coordinates with your home, your landscaping, and the surrounding neighborhood. Consider the color of your house and don’t choose a color for your door that doesn’t look good when in close contact. For example, if your home is already a brighter color, you might not want to choose a bright red door.

Changing the exterior door paint or trim paint is a great way to update the look of your home without painting the entire exterior of your house.

Select Painting Can Help

If you are looking for a little help choosing colors, our friends at Omorfia can help. They are experts in interior design and color consultations, and can bring beauty into any space.

Our friendly and experienced painting professionals can take care of your door and trim painting needs. We’ll handle the preparation, application, and the clean-up. You’ll re-enter the room to find no mess, only beautiful trim that highlights the room and walls. Or, if you opt for an exterior door, we can help enhance the look of your home from the outside.

Our painters know how to work with even the most finicky paint, and we can deliver the smooth, polished finishes you want. Contact us today and let us help you make your home’s trim pop.