From Wood to White: How-To Paint Mouldings

If I could sum up my Summer in DIY terms, it was all about painting. From the staircase to my office chair, from the white shelves to the new blue room, I think there was 2 (or maybe even 3) weeks straight that I had a paintbrush in-hand everyday!  Honestly, I’m kind of sick done with painting for awhile. Anyway, alot of projects got accomplished and one in particular were the oak stained wood mouldings that I painted white.  All I can say is…  WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

The staircase project was what did it and started the process of updating the mouldings.  It’s something that I wanted to undertake for a long time, but just didn’t know where to begin.  Once I started painting the stair risers and balusters, I realized that painting the trimwork wasn’t too difficult, so I just continued around the room. Even though the staircase was time consuming, the result was completely worth the effort and I knew I would feel the same way once the mouldings were finished.

To start off, I applied painters tape to the wall so only the mouldings (the areas that I wanted to paint) were exposed.

Here’s a snapshot when I painted the area around the window in the living room.

* Sidenote: My walls were already painted, but if you’re undertaking this project and your walls are NOT painted or you plan on changing the wall color, then paint the mouldings first.  Believe Me, It’s much easier!  So you would reverse the step I just mentioned.  Paint your mouldings first and once they are dry, tape the moulding edge (or buy a moulding paint gadget), THEN paint the wall color.

okay, moving on…

Once the tape was up, I was ready to paint.  Using my favorite Purdy brush, I applied one coat of Kilz Primer (I’ve heard good things about gripper primer too, but haven’t tried it yet).  I didn’t bother with sanding because even though the mouldings were stained, there was no gloss or sheen to them.  They were at the point of needing to be restained (to protect them) or painted (as I did).  IF you’re undertaking this project and your mouldings have a gloss finish, giving them a light sand is probably a good idea.

Primer for the mouldings is really important.  At one window I didn’t use it (by accident – it was late at night – you know the rest…) and you could see the orange color of the stain coming through the paint.  No matter how many coats of paint I applied, the orange tint always showed.  Now with primer, you may still get the orangey color, BUT when you go to apply the paint color, the orange color won’t come through because the primer will block it.  Primer truly is amazing stuff!

After the one coat of primer, then it was time to paint.   I continued with the paint I used for the staircase which was, Snowfall White by Benjamin Moore (thanks BM for providing the paint!).

Here’s a snapshot of the first coat of paint.

In most areas, I applied 1 coat of primer + 2 coats of paint, but in some areas I did use 3 coats.  It really depended on the finish look after 2 coats.

Once the painting was complete, it was time to remove the tape.  I’ll forewarn you – Don’t quickly pull off the tape because you’re freshly painted mouldings might get ruined.  When the paint was dry (to the touch it takes about 20-30 days to fully cure), I pulled off the tape and some of the paint came to.  To avoid that from happening, I used an X-acto blade to score the corner of where the moulding and wall meet…

…then removed the tape.

At this point, I noticed that some of the paint bled under the painters tape – so annoying, right?  I’ll tell ya, I tried lots of different ways to avoid this, but nothing worked.  I even googled it, and I found nada.  If you know a secret way, will you share?  Until then, this is what I did that worked best.

After removing the tape, I took the wall paint color and my Purdy angled brush, and slowly dragged it down the wall where the wall and moulding meet.  It worked perfectly!

And that’s about it…  Not too difficult, just alittle time consuming.  But believe me, the result is SO worth it.  Take it room by room – that’s what I’ve done.  Honestly, not all my rooms are completely finished, but most are and the result is so satisfying!

Here is the before and after of the living room…

Want to see some more?

Do you remember when I updated the door hardware? Check out how fresh it looks with the newly painted white mouldings…

And here’s one more.  Do you remember the DIY built-in coat rack behind my front door?  Well here it is now surrounded by freshly painted mouldings…

What a refreshing update!  Well I have a few more painting projects that I worked on over the Summer that still need to be shared, so check back soon!

What painting projects did you work on this past Summer?

I link my projects to some of these parties: Skip to My Lou, Dittle Dattle, Between Naps on the Porch, Today’s Creative Blog, Stories of A to Z, All Things Heart & Home, Savvy Southern Style, House of Hepworths, Finding Fabulous, Creation Corner, The Shabby Nest, Serenity Now, Tatertots and Jello, Thrifty Decor Chick, Tip Junkie

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  1. Christa says

    Hey Jenna! We just painted the entire inside of our house…walls, ceilings, trim, and doors. Our trim and doors were an old, icky, greenish white. We originally tried regular paint and after 5 coats on a door it still did not look good. We switched to the paint plus primer and it looked much better! Also, the prevent bleedthrough lay down your tape and apply a very thin coat of painters caulk to your tape line. Paint and then score with a blade and remove the tape, just as you did. This works great for wall corners and ceiling corners too. If you are using this technique where a wall and ceiling meet along an inside curve (think vaulted ceilings that meet the wall with an “opposite” bullnose) and you have a heavy texture such as knockdown you may want to apply the caulk a little heavier. One thing that I wish we had done was prime the ceiling before painting. Our paint covered unevenly and you can see roller marks (but you do have to be purposefully looking to notice it). Whose really going to be staring at my vaulted ceiling….right???

  2. Tiffany says

    After we painted a bunch of walls with paint bleeding all over my mom suggested something she heard on HGTV. After you put the tape down paint the other color along the tape line and then paint as normal after it dries. We tried it on our fire place and it worked beautifully on our textured walls.

  3. says

    I second the paintable caulk method! I like to use it on furniture pieces that will be getting more than one color. It just keeps the lines nice and crisp. Just glop it on with a trowel or use a caulk gun, then smooth it out with your fingertip. Easy-peasy.

    Love the fresh moulding color! I’m so thankful that our home already has white wood mouldings! Of course, my dream is a Craftsman home, but the wood is a given with that, and I love the style. I guess I’m just never really happy huh? Nice work!

    • Jenna says

      Great to know, thanks Julie! I think as a Design Enthusiast, you appreciate so many different styles that it’s difficult to choice one and be satisfied forever. I change my mind all the time and go from modern to traditional to craftsmen to beachy. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one! xo Jenna

  4. says

    Great tutorial. I must said that painting trim is not my favorite step in the painting process, but it does make a big impact. In my home we painted all the trim throughout the whole house from a medium wood tone to classic white. That simple change brings a home out of the 60’s and into the new millennium.

  5. Katie says

    Hey Jenna,

    Great tutorial! I wish I had thought to paint my mouldings first! Unfortunately I took the more difficult route and have all the mouldings left.

    I was wondering, what suggestions do you have for painting over mouldings that have been previously stained? I’m finding that after a gentle sand and then primed, the stain is still seeping through the paint (this is 4 coats of top coat by the way). Any ideas?


      • Katie says

        Sure did, that’s what has stumped me. I sanded, primed twice then 4 lots of top coat and seepage still happened. It’s an old house so I’m not quite sure what stain has been used. It’s perplexing that’s for sure.

        • Christa says

          I’d recommend using a shellac primer. I took an ASCP class and they said that some stains (like older mahogany) will bleed through almost any paint or primer. They recommended schellac primer as the solution.

        • Jenna says

          You must have a really hi sheen to the current wood then. I would sand it down as much as possible so you can cut the sheen and get through the layers to as close as the raw wood as possible.

  6. Mat says

    Nice work! I would recommend to lay a coat of flat before painting the final color, for example in your work you used first primer, then your final color, and molding are usually a gloss or semi-gloss. So instead, and this has worked very well for me in terms of getting an even coverage, primer, then a flat white (like your leftover from your ceiling paint), then your glossy white finish.

    This covers much faster and reduces the pain of having to paint 3 or 4 layers of the glossy color. in my case mouldings were darker wood, stained, and one coat of each did the trick very well!


  7. Kaye says

    I have had great success getting a straight line without bleeding with this technique. Put down the painters tape as straight as possible. Run a very light coat of paint the color below the tape. For example, if you are painting the trim, run the tape along the wall and paint a light coat of the wall color on the tape. That way the bleed thru will be the color of the wall. Paint the trim in the trim color and pull up tape after the final coat is still a little wet. This works on the ceiling, stripes, etc.

  8. Vicki says

    Instead of taping and seepage, use an angled brush and just “cut in” around ceilings, moldings, etc. It will take practice, but save you time in the long run once you get the hang of it. Keep a damp rag with you, and if you overpaint, just wipe off the overpainted spot right away. Looks great.

  9. Marty says

    I found that if you remove the paint at a 45 degree angle, it will not pull off the paint. My husband was a painter and always did it this way. You will have far less paint pulls this way but may get some. Just thought I’d give you the hint.

  10. Brooke says

    Using Gesso after you tape will create a seal between the surface and the tape. This will prevent the bleeding from occurring. I used this method in college in design class and did the same thing on our home when we painted our rooms. Make sure and get matte gesso, but this can be bought at any craft or hardware store. It takes one more step but save a whole lot of time. Especially if you are doing any time of paint stripes, which is what we did in one of the bedrooms.

  11. says

    My husband and I are about to do all of our trim and window casings and this post was a huge help! Our wood trim isn’t glossy at all and we didn’t want to sand e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g so I’m totally relieved!! Thanks for this tutorial and tips! P.s. your trim looks amazing!

  12. Deb Paskall says

    Hi Jenna,

    Another vote for Frog Tape. It is simply the best. No comparison to the others.
    Great website!


  13. mallorie says

    Looks wonderful! Did you use a latex or oil based primer? I’d love to avoid the oil based if I can to avoid additional headache in clean up, but I also want to do it right the first time!

    • Jenna says

      I used latex water-based primer and paint. The smell and fumes of oil-based paints bothers me, so I try to avoid them. Also over time, oil-based paints can yellow. I feel that latex semi-gloss paint will do the job and last just the same! Good Luck with your project. xo Jenna

  14. Linda V says

    Have you had problems with the paint chipping at all from the natural use of opening and closing the door? I’m referring to the inside of the doorframe where the door meets, rather than the outside framing.


    • Jenna says

      Yes, the paint has chipped – very little though – with wear and time. To be expected since it is paint over wood. A little touch up with the same paint does the trick to give it a fresh, new look.