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How to Paint Window Trim

How to Paint Window Trim

If you're looking to update your home exterior or interior painting, omitting your windows makes them stick out like a sore thumb. This means your house painting project will probably involve painting window trim. Trico Painting has some tips that can help set your trim painting project up for success.

What to Know About Window Trim Painting

Tools You Need for Window Trim Painting

Before getting started with painting your window trim, it's important to have the tools on hand that you need to take on the project.

Window painting requires:

  • Paint Scraper

  • Window Caulking Remover

  • Sandpaper

  • All-Purpose Degreaser

  • Paintable Caulk

  • Brushes and Smoothing Tools

  • Utility Knife

Professional-grade tools, caulk, primer, and paint will help you get the finish you're looking for. But paint selection depends on the look you want, and the surface you plan to paint.

How to Choose Paint for Window Trim

We suggest painting both interior and exterior trim with a glossy finish. Their durability makes windows easier to wipe clean once painted, and glossy finishes repel dirt well.

Wood, vinyl, aluminum, and steel window trim all require unique paints and applications. Otherwise, paint will flake off, and all the time and money you spent painting window trim will have been wasted.

Here are some paint recommendations for the most common window trim surfaces.

  • Wood Trim: Exterior wood trim does well with oil or acrylic exterior gloss paint. Interior wood trim matches well with high-quality latex gloss paint.

  • Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF) Trim: MDF window trim resists moisture damage and is easier to install than other trim types. This is another surface for which high-quality latex gloss paint will perform well and be a good match.

  • Vinyl Trim: Vinyl trim is most common on exterior windows, especially homes and buildings with vinyl siding. Since it's impermeable surface won’t hold standard paint, you'll need to find exterior gloss paint designed specifically for vinyl.

  • Metal Trim: Like with vinyl, you'll need metal primers and paints for metal window trim. You may also want to consider choosing paint with rust-resistant properties so your trim can stand up to the elements longer.

  • If your window trim is unfinished, you’ll get the best paint adhesion if you apply primer before painting. Like the paint you choose, the primer should be compatible with the type of trim you’re painting.

Trim Painting Prep and Planning

You can paint interior trim anytime. But painting exterior window trim can only happen when you know temperatures will stay between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with no breeze or wind. Wind causes paint spatter, and temperature changes affect how paint dries. To prep for window trim painting, take these steps:

  1. Scrape away peeling paint.

  2. Remove old caulking.

  3. Sand window trim smooth.

  4. Apply new caulking around windows.

Allow caulking to dry fully before moving forward with trim painting, so new caulk seals properly.

How to Paint Window Trim

After paint and primer selection and getting the trim prepped, you're ready to start window trim painting.

  1. Tape the area you don't want to paint, or use a paint shield and smoothing tool to avoid paint drips and spatters. If you opt for the smoothing tool, place it between the trim and the wall, and move it as you paint, being sure to wipe it clean along the way.

  2. Use a paintbrush size appropriate to your trim width. Wide trim can allow for wider brushes, but you may need a smaller, angled brush for the detail areas and more narrow strips of trim.

  3. Let the first coat dry before applying the next coat. Your paint can will recommend a drying time.

Two coats will likely be sufficient, but you'll be able to tell after the second coat dries if you like the finish or if it needs another coat. If you get paint on the windows while painting, cleaning them as you go will help the finished product look even better. If paint dries on the glass, it can be removed carefully with a glass scraper. Just be sure you don't damage the newly-painted surrounding trim in the process.

Professional Window Trim Painting Without the Stress

By now, you've noticed that, while window painting can get done with DIY approach, there can be a lot of hangups along the way. To avoid the mess and the stress, hire a professional house painter from Trico Painting to do the job.

Whether it’s interior or exterior painting, we have the professional-grade tools, materials, and paint products to pair perfectly with a range of window trim types, and we can get the job done during optimal conditions with utmost attention to detail. We treat your home like our own, and always make sure any area we paint is clean and inviting after our work is completed.

If you want a new look, we can help you customize paint colors and finishes. Or we can match your existing paint if you've found a timeless look for your windows that you love. We'll be sure all caulk is properly applied along with your primers and paints to better seal your home against moisture damage and pest intrusion and to help keep your energy costs lower.


Trico Painting can also help you tackle a number of other indoor and outdoor painting projects so you can enjoy your home worry free. Ready to get started? Contact Trico Painting for your painting estimate today!