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How to Choose a Trim Paint Color

By Jan Soults Walker

Make the trim, or moldings, in any room stand out or stand down with thoughtful paint selections.

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Elegant Transitional Living Room by Gail Shields-Miller
Gail Shields-Miller
Once you've decided what color to paint your walls, it's time to turn your eye to the trim. Consider these next steps:

Decide on durability. The woodwork, or trim, in your rooms needs to withstand gooey fingers, bumps from the vacuum cleaner, kicks, knocks, and general wear and tear. For a long-lasting finish, select latex or oil-base enamel formulated for trim, which hardens to a tougher finish than wall enamel. Keep in mind that latex paints clean up with water and are more earth friendly. Latex also won't yellow over time like an oil finish does.

Select a sheen. Opt for high-gloss or semi-gloss sheens for best durability and a wipe-clean finish on trim. Glossy sheens are especially practical for trim exposed to moisture, such as in the laundry room and bath, or grease-prone kitchens. Glossy sheens spotlight woodwork by reflecting light and emphasizing this architectural asset.

Consider contrast. Paint walls a color and trim white for a look that's crisp and clean. White or light-color trim against darker wall colors draws attention to woodwork details. To instill drama, paint trim an unexpected color such as black, red, or purple.

Light Contemporary Foyer by Susan Hughes
Susan Hughes

Make trim disappear. When you want a room to appear large and tranquil, paint trim and walls the same color or similar shades. Woodwork will blend with walls, virtually disappear, and create a more seamless look around the room.

For more ways to use paint to change your room's space, read:

Lure the eye. Use contrasting paint colors or dramatic variations in shades to draw attention to special woodwork in a room, such a substantial crown molding or a fireplace.

Fool the eye. No crown molding or deep baseboards? Create the illusion of either one with paint. For example, for a beefier baseboard, paint a band of matching color above the baseboard so it appears taller. For an even more convincing camouflage, cap off the painted band with a piece of half-round molding painted to match. Where the wall meets the ceiling, paint a band of color to mimic trim.
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