How to Paint Trim without Tape – The Ultimate Guide

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Learn everything you need to know about painting the trim in your home without using tape! This ultimate guide for how to paint trim without tape gives you three in-depth painting methods including materials, tools, techniques, tips and more.

Are you looking to paint the trim in your house but don’t want to hassle with painter’s tape?

Painting trim without tape saves on cost, time, and frustration!

No more having to buy rolls of tape, spend hours placing it along the trim, and then struggle with the paint that inevitably seeps under the tape.

With these simple trim painting methods, you’ll get perfectly painted trim WITHOUT having to deal with painter’s tape.

RELATED: HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT PAINT COLOR

3 Trim-Painting Methods without Tape

All three of these methods are quite easy and totally doable for even the new DIY’er.

Whether you’re installing brand new trim or simply wanting to update the existing trim in your home, one of these three easy methods will get your trim looking fresh in no time!

Method 1: Paint the Trim before Install

This method is perfect for you if you’re installing new trim.

Materials Needed:

Tools Needed:

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Set your full-size trim boards on two saw horses or between tables covered with plastic.

It your trim is bare wood, start by sanding it lightly using 150 grit sand paper, wiping it down completely and priming it using your 4″ roller with a 1/4″ nap roller pad.

If your trim comes pre-primed (like ours did) then you don’t need to worry about sanding and priming it, you can simply jump to painting!

Use your 4″ roller to paint the face, top and bottom of the trim.

I recommend starting at one end and working your way down to the other, especially if you have long boards.

Do two coats of paint, letting it dry completely between coats.

After the paint is dry, cut and install your trim using your chop saw and nail gun.

Next, fill all the nail holes with wood filler.

Once the wood filler has dried completely, sand it down with 220 grit sandpaper and then paint over it lightly using a small paintbrush.

This is the method we’ve used in most of our current home!

Here are a few pictures of what our white painted trim looks like after being painted first then installed second:

Black Paint and Pink Door in Dining Room

I love the white trim against the black walls – don’t you?!

House cleaning tips for areas not to forget like air vents.

We still need to paint the doors in the hallway, but the trim looks fab!

Method 2: Remove the Trim

Use this method if you’re installing new flooring but want to reuse your existing trim.

Materials Needed:

Tools Needed:

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Begin by removing all of the trim from the wall.

Do this by carefully wedging your pry bar or painting tool between the wall and the trim board and hammering it down until the trim separates from the wall.

Gently do this along each spot where there are nails in the trim and gradually pull the entire trim piece off the wall.

As you remove each piece, use a sharpie to number the back side of the trim and the bottom part of the wall (that will eventually be hidden by the trim again) so you know where each piece goes when you reinstall.

Use your pliers to remove all the nails from your trim boards and then place them on top of two sawhorses or tables.

Next, lightly sand them down using your sandpaper.

After sanding, wipe all of the trim boards down really well using a wet rag.

Prime the boards using your 4″ roller and a 1/4″ nap roller pad.

Then, paint two coats of your paint onto the trim using the same roller, letting dry completely between coats.

Once the paint is completely dry, reinstall your boards (using the numbering system you wrote on them during the removal process) with your nail gun.

Finish them off by filling in the nail holes, sanding it down with 220 sandpaper and touching up with paint.

We used this method to paint all of the trim in my in-laws’ living room makeover.

Their builder-grade floor trim needed to be moved down in order to line up with their new flooring so we removed it all, painted it in the garage and then reinstalled it after painting.

Here a fun before/after picture of their space:

How to Paint Trim without Brush Strokes

The key to avoiding brush strokes on your trim is using a roller!

Removing the trim from the wall gives you the opportunity to use a roller, which is why I’m a huge fan of this method.

Even if you aren’t installing new flooring or don’t actually NEED to remove the trim, I find this method to be much easier than the next one – so consider using it even if you’re just wanting to paint the trim!

Method 3: Paint the Trim then the Wall

Simply looking to paint the trim and don’t want to remove it? Use this method!

Materials Needed:

Tools Needed:

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Start by lightly sanding all of the trim using your 150 grit sand paper and wiping it down with a damp rag.

Then, push cardstock between the floor and your trim all the way around the room to protect your flooring.

Fill any holes in the trim using wood filler and let it dry.

Sand down the fill spots using 220 grit sand paper and then prime all of the trim using a small paintbrush.

Don’t worry about getting primer and paint on the walls, as you’ll touch that up afterwards.

After the primer is completely dry, give the trim two coats of paint, allowing to dry in between.

Touch up the wall paint by cutting in the edge using a small tapered paintbrush and your wall’s paint color.

If your trim is white, finish off the top seam with a bead of white caulking.

Before you remove the cardstock from the bottom of the trim, use a box knife to cut along the base of the trim and break any paint that may have built up between the trim and paper.

Then simply pull the paper out from under the trim.

This is the method we used in our prior home, where we painted all of the builder-grade trim without ever removing it from the wall.

You can see the white floor trim in this shot of dining and living room:

First Home After

How To Paint Trim on Carpet

I’m a huge fan of the card stock trick for protecting your carpet as you paint the trim over it.

Pushing card stock between the carpet and trim keeps the paint from having any chance of touching the paint because it covers such a large surface area.

Plus, it’s super easy to remove!

Just be sure to cut the paint build up between the trim and paper before pulling it out (as described above) or you risk pulling the fresh paint off your trim.

Other Trim Painting Tips

How do you paint crown molding without tape?

Crown moulding is one of the hardest trims to paint!

If you’re doing the crown moulding install, I highly recommend painting the trim before you put it in.

Then all you have to do is touch up the nail holes after install which is super easy!

If the crown moulding is already installed, I recommend using a small tapered paint brush and carefully cutting in the paint edges.

Don’t worry about getting it super perfect – simply caulk the edges after you’re done painting and the white caulking will hide the paint seam.

What is the easiest way to paint baseboards?

The easiest way to paint baseboards is “off the wall.”

Which means you should paint them before you install them, or remove them, paint them, and reinstall them.

Painting trim when it’s on the wall is a lot more work and never looks quite as nice.

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So, do you feel like you know how to paint trim like a pro now? 😉

Like I’ve mentioned, we’ve used all of the trim-painting methods described in this post so if you have any questions just ask! We’re happy to help.

Have fun painting!

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