Varnished Trim Painting Tricks

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 24,995
    Spike Carlsen with Family Handyman Magazine demonstrates how to properly apply paint to varnished trim.

    Spike Carlsen: Hi! I am Spike Carlsen. I am a contributing editor with the Family Handyman Magazine, a leading do it yourself magazine on the planet.

    We've been looking at troublesome and problematic situations and one that you are most likely to run into at some point is applying paint to bounded trim. The trim might be just baseboard like we have here and it might be going around your windows or doors. It might even be crown molding. But the main thing you have to do is since it's been varnished you need to do proper surface preparation so the primer and the paint will stick to it.

    Your best friend is a good painters tape. We are using FrogTape which has some various special qualities that make it easier to paint the then ever. The first thing you want to do is to mask off both the floor and the wall. And the easiest way to do that is if you have carpet, to lay down the tape and then gently tuck it under the baseboard. Work in small sections, it's easier to do it that way.

    If you have wood floors you are just going to use masking tape and put it directly on the floor and then seal the edge very well.

    You also want to protect your walls because you got to be washing the baseboard and sanding it. Again, work in 24 inch lengths or so, so it's easier to handle. Get it roughly positioned and then once you have it right where you want it. Press it in place with your fingers and then use a painter's tool or a putty knife to very firmly press it and place in order to get a clean edge.

    Once you have the edge of your flooring protected then put down a tarp to protect the rest of your carpeting or flooring from other possible spills. If you feel more secure about it you can actually do another layer of masking or painters tape in order to hold this in place.

    Where you've got a baseboard, you have had vacuum-cleaners bumping into it for years. You are going to have grease; you are going to have oils; if you have small kids in the house you are going to have that kind of residue built up on it. So take some TSP or a TSP substitute and scrub the molding very well.

    You have your masking in place, so you can be liberal with the detergent, yet the little nooks and crannies. When you are done with this, you are going to want rinse it with clean water and then make sure it's dry.

    Your next step is to sand it. You are doing this for a couple of reason. First of all it's a way of getting rid of any drips or drops that other painters or that might be in the finish itself. The other thing is to give a little tooth, a little rough surface so that primer that you put on next has a good surface to cling to.

    For large flat areas, just use a flat sanding bar with some fine sandpaper. In areas that are more curved find a piece of dowel, wrap your sandpaper around that to get into the recesses. Make a crease in the sandpaper to get the little cracks and crevices where other pieces won't fit.

    Here's a little bit of mineral spirits, it's safe and all clear finishes. Dampen a rag and then just use that to get up the residue. What you want is a nice even layer of primer. You want to go with the green, just nice even strokes. A slightly loaded brush get in the crevices first, do the round and parts next. Get the top done and then finish with the wider surface last.

    The last thing we have to do is paint. So get your brush lightly loaded, give it a few taps, get rid of the excess paint and then bring it over to your baseboard and paint away.

    Again, lot of people like to do the little crevices and curve part first and that way you can finish up with long broad strokes to finish up the rest of it and even out the things you've done before.

    Alright! So there we took some beat up rounded trim, we masked off the walls, we primed the woodwork, got it nice some smooth, applied a new coat of paint, welcome to your new room.