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How to Paint Exterior Trim

Now that our brick is finally painted our perfect shade of grey (hallelujah), and all of the trim has been painted a fresh white, you would think we were done. Not quite. My dad decided that the exterior trim for the front living room windows would be a job that we could tackle ourselves. And by we, he means me, because everyone else hates painting and I’m the one that gets the most excited about it.

The big question on my mind was, how to paint exterior trim? The answer…the same as painting the interior trim. The only difference between the two is that this time I am using exterior paint. We painted the brick in Acier grey by Sherwin-Williams and the trim in Pure White by Sherwin-Williams. So of course, for this last piece of trim in the front, I used the same pure white to match.

*Side note* choosing both of these paints and paint colors took some time and test swatches to make sure we got something we wanted. In case you missed our article on How to Choose the Best paint, you can find it here.

How to Paint Exterior Trim

Tools Needed

Step One – Sanding and Scraping

How To Paint Exterior Trim

If you have ever done any furniture refinishing you know that the first step in any project is sanding and scraping. Mostly sanding. Scraping will come into play only if the previous paint layer is starting to crack and peel. In our case, our exterior trim was doing just that, so after about 30 minutes of sanding and scraping and sanding again, our trim was smooth enough to paint.

Step Two – Vacuuming and Wiping

How To Paint Exterior Trim

How To Paint Exterior Trim

Although the most mundane of all the steps, that sawdust and paint dust that we just created from sanding has to go somewhere. This time I pulled out our handheld Orek Vacuum to suck up all the fine dust. Any vacuum with a handle attachment and good sucking power will work just fine. After most of the dust was gone, I took a damp cloth and wiped over every surface of the trim to make sure it was completely clean.

Step Three – Taping

How To Paint Exterior Trim

How To Paint Exterior Trim

This is such a crucial step! I taped over the brick and glass so we could get nice clean lines. I let this sit for a day before I was able to get to painting. Not shown in the picture, I decided to tape some butcher paper over the brick ledge to ensure that I wouldn’t get any accidental drops of paint on it. I also decided to lay the drop cloth over our concrete porch for the same reason.

*Note* If you are taping on brick, you will need to press the tape down into the ridges. If you skip this step the paint WILL BLEED onto the brick.

Step Four – Painting

How To Paint Exterior Trim

How To Paint Exterior Trim

As intimidating as it may seem at first, the best to get started is just to jump right in. Pick a corner and work your way from one side to the other. For this project, it took me a total of 3 layers and about 2 straight hours of painting. I painted the trim on a fairly hot morning of 80+ degrees. The paint dried quickly enough that I was able to start with my second layer just minutes after finishing the first layer and the same with the third coat. Watch out for drips, if you see any smooth them over with your paintbrush before the paint dries.

Step Five – Step Back and Enjoy Your Fresh White Trim

As funny as this sounds, I always think it’s a good idea to admire your finished product. If you haven’t done much painting, this project can seem overwhelming, but once you get started it’s fairly simple. The key to being successful is all in the prep work. Sanding and taping exactly right is key to making you trim look like it’s done by a professional. Let us know how painting your exterior trim goes in the comments below.

How to Paint Exterior Trim

How To Paint Exterior Trim

How To Paint Exterior Trim

How To Paint Exterior Trim

 

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