Ever since you were small, the end of winter marked certain things — time to dig out flip-flops, trim split ends and dust off your bike to prepare it for the open road. Now that you have your own pad, spring also means critiquing the space with an eye toward brightening and freshening up.
Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like the amount of backup cash you’ve got to work with is about the same as the small heap of pennies and dimes stashed in your childhood piggy bank. But don’t despair: Affordable home renovation projects are more attainable than you may have thought.
Have you ever cropped the bottom or angled the sleeves of a T-shirt, even just a little? With a standard set of kitchen scissors, you changed its look completely. Wish there was a similarly simple solution for your home? Consider painting your interior trim.
Is your current trim the same color as your walls? You’re in luck! Adding an accent color is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to update your home. Look at your furnishings and textiles to identify a certain hue you’d like to pick up. Think opposite ends of the light continuum: If you have richly colored walls, make the outline pop with white or light trim. If your walls are already light, add deep color along the edging and watch your whole room emit a different design feel.
Gather Your Tools
Even if this is your first home improvement project and you’re starting at ground zero in the way of basic supplies, painting interior trim will not put you back more than $100 — and you’ll end up with a stockpile of useful items for future use. Go to the paint supply store and pick up:
Prep work for this project is more time-intensive than the painting itself, but it’s worth every minute to pay particular attention to each step involved. Clean your trim with a damp rag or sponge. If you find fingerprint grime or strike marks from your vacuum cleaner, use a vinegar solution with the rough side of an abrasive sponge and put in some elbow grease.
When finished, rinse well and allow to dry thoroughly.
It may seem counterintuitive at first — however, sanding not only smooths your surface, but allows for paint to adhere more effectively. If your trim is in rough shape, start with coarse sandpaper such as 80-grit and work your way up to a more fine-grained version. Make sure you completely sand off all the shine on each surface.
Pro tip: If you’ve got a lot of area to cover, or your trim has intricate detail, try using a sanding block. Flexible, rubber sponge-like varieties are available at home goods or craft stores, but a simple hand-sized piece of wood will do. Wrap sandpaper around the block for greater leverage and ease of handling.
Wipe off sanding dust when the job is complete.
Study trim carefully and note any dings or dents. Look to see if there’s a gap between the trim work and the wall, and check corners and joints for cracks. With a putty knife and spackle, even out surfaces. Using spackle is a lot like icing a cake — the idea is to fill in holes and scratches to create a smooth foundation.
Allow spackle to dry completely and sand over patched areas to create even texture.
Lay drop cloths evenly over flooring. If your room is carpeted, run a band of masking tape along drop cloth edging with a half-inch overlap. Use your putty knife to tuck the overlap tightly into the space where the trim meets carpet fibers to prevent paint from bleeding out.
Surround trim with a straight, level application of painter’s tape. Use the longest strips possible. Start at a corner and work your way out. When finished, run your putty knife over the tape to secure and reinforce.
You’re finally ready to start painting! Primer needs at least 24 hours to dry properly — even if you’re beat from all the prep work, consider priming before calling it quits for the day so trim can dry overnight.
Thoroughly mix primer and pour out a small amount. For trim work, lugging around paint-filled trays can be awkward, consider using a wide-mouthed plastic container — like the kind you get a pint of takeout soup in — to hold paint as you move along the length of coverage area.
With your angled brush, apply using even strokes, again beginning in a corner and working your way out. Allow primer to dry, clean your brush and seal the paint can tightly when done.
As with your primer, mix paint and pour. Start with short, horizontal strokes and cover with longer, fluid brushwork. If your trim is wide, consider cutting in along the painter’s-taped edging first, then filling in the middle.
Before paint dries, carefully remove tape.
Take a deep, satisfying breath and pat yourself on the back. In just a couple of days, with a modest budget, you’ve given your living space a fresh, updated look perfect for the season!