Blog Painted wood trim

Published on December 20th, 2015 | by Grant Barnard


Painting Natural Stained Trim White Without An Airless Sprayer – Smooth Finish

Painting natural stained trim DIY white is difficult. There are many challenges that present themselves making one type of trim easily paintable and another trim very difficult. Many challenges present themselves with many options to solve said issue with painting your home’s trim WITHOUT AN AIRLESS SPRAYER.

All house trim is different and likewise so will the results with the same process. So here, we will give you the best options for your specific type of trim. Grants Painting paints interior trim in Indianapolis, Fishers, Greenwood, Carmel and Zionsville. We have painted all types of interior trim and run into all problems possible. Read this amazing article on how to paint your natural trim white.

The grain on your natural trim is the biggest problem. The best painting process is different for each type of trim.

Painting Stained Trim With Light Grain

If you have natural stained trim with only a light or small grain you have an easier job than most.

  1. Sand – Sanding is very important for your paints adhesion. However, this can be where it all goes wrong. If you over sand the trim you will expose sealed wood and thus needing an oil based primer for best results.
  2. Caulking – It is best to caulk before you prime. However, this is when you will need to touch up the caulk lines that were too large or just missed. The primer coat displays all of the missed areas. Caulk is not meant for nail holes as it shrinks too much and will require a second application. Putty or vinyl speckling work best for a one time solution.
  3. Prime – Here is where you have an option. Use nasty oil based primer and prime once. OR – Use a very high quality water based primer and you may have to prime twice if you have yellow-brown bleed through from the wood or stain. The better that you work the primer into the grooves the better result you will get. The primer MUST also dry completely to block out yellowish tannin from bleed through.
  4. Paint – Topcoat paint should be applied however is quickest for you. Forget long strokes at first. Just get the paint on the surface, after you have the paint spread on the surface, you can then worry about smoothing it out with the single long stroke with the soft tips of the brush. Do the difficult long stroke only once! When painting the trim, always start on the side of the trim that is unpainted and stroke INTO the area that you last painted. This is the key to your interior house trim coming out smooth and beautiful. PS, you will need two coats of the topcoat too for professional looking interior trim paint job.
  5. Cut Tape – You must take a very sharp knife and actually cut the tape from the surface. This gives a perfect edge and prevents any peeling paint as full adhesion will not come for up to 30 days.Removing masking from painted trim

Painting Stained Oak Trim With Large Open Grain

Painting stained oak trim with large open grain is the most difficult to paint. There are two challenges to overcome. Grain patterns that that leave a rough finish & Massive bleed through of yellow-brown tannin’s that waterborne primers cannot block well enough to get your natural interior trim white with even two coats. This problem can ONLY be solved with a shellac(BIN) primer or oil based primer. BIN is not water tolerant so oil is the best option. However, oil based primer is generally rough and needs a water based primer. We always use a waterborne primer over the oil(alkyd) primer with two topcoats for maximum smoothness on interior oak trim. Light sanding between coats is always going to help.

Painting Smooth Trim Without Any Grain

Painting totally smooth natural trim is the easiest interior trim to paint. You are in luck! Follow the steps above and just use one coat of primer and possibly only one coat of topcoat!


  • More primer never hurts when painting wood trim
  • Use quality materials ONLY
  • Spread the paint, then smooth the paint – Quickly per section
  • Use tape where needed

Suggested Products For Painting Your Interior Trim

  • Brush – Generally beginners can provide a smooth finish with a mixed brush that has soft tips and shorter stiff bristles. Softer brushes leave less brush marks but makes it harder to push the paint around. Stiffer brushes will drag away too much paint.
  • Tape – Use Blue 3m tape without the edgelock, 3m 2090 . Consider a delicate surface tape for jobs that you plan to take over 7 or 8 days, especially on painted walls.
  • Primer – XIM UMA – This is a thinner product but bonds to anything. Available online even from
  • Primer – Seal Grip Acrylic Universal – Smooths and levels well with decent block and bond. This is an excellent for second coat of primer.
  • Caulk – Use the highest quality caulk that you can. Large or loose areas need to be nailed or glued if nails won’t work.
  • Finish coat – Finish coats can depend on how much you want to spend. Trim paint typically needs to be much stronger than wall paint. Also, using a paint that will not cover so well will not help your timeline when painting interior house trim. If you want that beautiful finish that looks like its sprayed use a waterborne alkyd. This will delay dry time for the topcoats but will deliver the smoothest finish.

About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

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