Hey there you’re ready to tackle painting the interior woodwork in your home.
Great! Painting trim, doors, staircases, and built-ins is one of the best ways to give your space a quick makeover. The results can be dramatic. But to get pro-level results, you need to approach this project like an expert.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. By the time you finish reading this, you’ll know how to properly prepare the wood, choose the right sheen for the job, apply interior wood paint smoothly and evenly, and get clean cut-ins and crisp lines like you’ve been doing this for years.
Ready to transform your interior woodwork?
Let’s get started.
Prepping Interior Woodwork for Interior Wood Paint
Before you start painting, you need to properly prepare the woodwork. This will help the new paint adhere better and provide a smooth finish.
Clean the Wood Thoroughly
Dust, dirt, and grime prevent paint from sticking well. Wipe down all wood surfaces with a damp, lint-free cloth to remove any debris.
For stuck-on messes, make a cleaning solution of warm water and a degreasing dish soap. Scrub thoroughly with an abrasive sponge or scrubber, then rinse with water and let dry completely.
Fill Any Cracks or Holes
Inspect the wood for any cracks, holes, or imperfections and fill them in with caulk, wood filler, or spackle. Smooth the filler with fine-grit sandpaper once dry. This provides an even base for your topcoat of paint.
Lightly Sand Rough Areas
For the best results, do some light sanding over the entire wood surface, especially any rough spots. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth. The fine scratches left behind give the new paint extra “tooth” to grip onto.
Apply a Primer (Optional)
If you’re painting over an existing dark stain or the wood is porous, apply a coat of primer. Let it dry as directed. Primers help prevent bleed-through and provide better coverage in fewer coats. For most interior wood, though, a primer isn’t always necessary if you’re using quality paint.
Choosing the Right Paint for Interior Wood
Choosing the right type of paint is key to a professional-looking finish on your woodwork. For interior wood paint, you’ll want to consider:
➜ Latex or acrylic paint: This water-based paint is a popular choice for interior wood. It’s easy to clean up, dries quickly, and provides good coverage in 2 coats. Look for an acrylic latex paint specifically meant for trim and woodwork.
➜ Oil-based paint: Oil paint is more durable and provides better coverage in one coat. However, it has strong fumes, takes longer to dry, and requires the use of harsh solvents for cleanup. Only use oil-based paint if you have proper ventilation.
➜ Satin or semi-gloss sheen: For most interior woodwork like trim, doors, and cabinets, a satin or semi-gloss sheen is ideal. These provide a durable, scrubbable finish with a soft glow. Avoid flat paint which won’t withstand cleaning.
➜ Primer: For the best results, apply a coat of primer before painting woodwork. Primer helps the paint adhere better for a smooth finish. Use a primer meant for the type of paint you choose – latex primer for latex paint, oil-based primer for oil paint.
➜ Topcoat: Adding a clear topcoat like polyurethane helps protect the paint from damage. This is especially useful for woodwork in high-traffic or high-moisture areas like kitchens or bathrooms. Apply 2-3 coats of water-based polyurethane, waiting 2 hours between coats.
Painting Techniques for a Professional Look
Painting interior woodwork like baseboards, trim, and doors requires some technique to get a professional-looking finish. The key is taking your time and focusing on the details.
Prep The Wood
Lightly sand the wood to rough up the surface and provide a “tooth” for the new paint to grip onto. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth. Apply a primer if you’re painting over a dark color or bare wood. Let it dry as directed.
Use Painter’s Tape
Apply painter’s tape to protect adjacent walls, ceilings, and floors. Press firmly so the tape adheres well. Remove the tape as soon as you’ve finished painting to avoid peeling off new paint.
Apply A Coat Of Paint
Use a brush to paint corners, edges, and seams. Then use a roller for large, flat areas. Apply in even strokes. Let the first coat dry according to product directions, usually 2-4 hours.
Add Additional Coats
Lightly sand between coats with fine-grit sandpaper (220 grit or higher) and wipe away dust. Apply 2-3 coats of paint for the best coverage and protection. Make sure each coat is dry before adding another.
Consider Top Coating
For trim and doors, apply a clear topcoat like polyurethane. It protects the new paint from scratches and dings while giving it a durable, glossy finish. Wipe away dust between coats. Add 2-3 coats, letting each coat dry in between.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Interior Wood
Avoiding common mistakes when painting interior woodwork will help you achieve a professional finish.
Not Cleaning And Sanding The Wood First
Wood needs to be cleaned and lightly sanded before painting so the paint adheres properly. Wipe away dirt and grime, then lightly sand with a fine-grit sandpaper. Vacuum up dust and wipe clean.
Not Priming Wood Before Painting
Unfinished wood should be primed before painting. Primer helps paint stick to the surface better, especially on hardwoods. For the best results, use a primer designed specifically for the type of wood you’re painting, such as for trim, cabinets, or furniture.
Using The Wrong Type Of Paint
For interior wood, use either enamel, eggshell, or satin paint. These provide durability and moisture resistance. Avoid flat paint, which won’t stand up to washing or scrubbing. For trim, use paint with an enamel or gloss finish for the easiest cleaning.
Applying Too Thick Of A Coat
When painting wood, thin coats are best. Thick coats don’t adhere as well and are more prone to dripping and sagging. Apply two thin coats of paint instead of one thick coat, waiting 2-4 hours between coats. The final coat should look even and smooth.
Interior Wood Paint- Final Verdict
You’ve got this. Now that you know how to properly prepare the wood, choose the right paint and tools, and apply it like a pro, you’re ready to transform your interior woodwork.
Take your time and pay attention to the details – the end result will be well worth the effort. Once the interior wood paint has dried completely, stand back and admire your work.
Notice how the fresh coat of paint makes the wood details pop and gives your whole space a revitalized feel.
Congratulations, you’ve just accomplished an impactful DIY project that will make you smile every time you see it. Not bad for an amateur, huh? If you have more wood painting in your future, you can now stride in with confidence, armed with the knowledge to do it right.