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Best Paints for Trim

Updated
Give your trim a new lease of life with these 10 great trim paints.

Getting the best trim paints may seem insignificant compared to paint for walls and ceilings, but they get a surprising amount of punishment. If you have a dog, you’ll know how many times your pet paws scratch window sills and door frames.

The best paints for trim have to be hard-wearing and withstand bumps, scuffs, and scratches. We review our favorite trim paints, judging them on quality, price, and scuff resistance.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Rust-Oleum 7792502 Stops Rust Brush On Paint, Quart, Gloss White
Best Oil-Based
Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Gloss White Paint
  • Oil-based formula is durable
  • UV & weather-resistant
  • Works on multiple surfaces
Product Image of the Nuvo Cabinet Paint (Titanium Infusion) Quart
Best Low-Odor
Nuvo Cabinet Paint Titanium Infusion
  • Water-based - good for the environment
  • Easy clean-up
  • Low odors & VOCs
Product Image of the Rust-Oleum 200061H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, 8 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Gloss Finish
Fastest Drying
Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Paint
  • Dries in 30 minutes
  • Stain & scratch-resistant
  • Protects the natural wood grain
Product Image of the KILZ Low-Lustre Enamel Porch & Patio Latex Floor Paint, Interior/Exterior, Slate Gray, 1 Gallon
Best for Primed Wood
KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Paint
  • Maximum 400 sqft of coverage
  • Ideal for primed wood
  • UV & weather-resistant
Product Image of the 1 qt Modern Masters 275262 Mysterious Front Door Paint Water-Based Exterior Enamel
Best Exterior
Modern Masters Front Door Paint
  • Dries in 1 hour
  • Low odor & low VOCs
  • Works indoors and out
Product Image of the Prestige Interior Paint and Primer In One, 1-Gallon, Semi-Gloss, White
Best Easy to Clean
Prestige Interior Paint and Primer In One
  • Washable due to the semi-gloss finish
  • Low in VOCs & odors
  • Water-based - good for the environment
Product Image of the Rust-Oleum 1976502 Painter's Touch Latex Paint, Quart, Flat Black 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
Best Acrylic Latex
Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint
  • Suitable for indoor & outdoor use
  • 120 sqft of coverage depending on the surface quality
  • Water-based - good for the environment
Product Image of the Microblend Interior Paint and Primer - White/White, Semi-gloss Sheen, Quart, Premium Quality, High Hide, Low VOC, Washable, Microblend Whites Family
Best Bare Wood
Microblend Interior Paint and Primer
  • Washable & stain-resistant
  • 300 plus color choices
  • Paint and primer in one
Product Image of the Majic PAINTS Interior/Exterior Satin Paint, RePurpose your Furniture, Cabinets, Glass, Metal, Tile, Wood and More, White, 1-Quart ​, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
Best Interior
Majic Paints Satin Finish
  • Dries in just 1-hour
  • Comes in 10 color options
  • Requires no priming
Product Image of the Diamond Brite Paint 21050 1 Quart Semi Gloss Latex Paint High Hiding White
Best Budget
Diamond Brite Semi-Gloss Latex Paint
  • Excellent budget option
  • Dirt & grease-resistant
  • Can be sprayed, brushed, or rolled on


Product Reviews

With so many trim paints to choose from, it was a challenge narrowing the field. Here are our top 10 trim paints based on quality, price, and coverage.

1. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Gloss White Paint

Best Oil-Based Paint for Trim

You might think it’s odd that a Stops Rust paint features in a review about wooden trim paint, but this Rust-Oleum product is suitable for use on indoor and outdoor wooden surfaces. It also works on metal, concrete, masonry, and more, so once the trim is finished, you can get started on those other projects.

Once down, it dries to the touch in 2 to 4 hours, and it covers an area of 90 square feet. The hard gloss finish is weather and UV-resistant, as well as protecting your trim against abrasion, fading, and chipping.

This is an oil-based product, so it does have VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and it has a strong odor, so when working inside, make sure you have good ventilation. It also needs thinner or mineral spirits to clean up the brushes, which is bad for the environment.

However, the oil gives this paint such durability and stops it from weathering in high-traffic areas.

Pros

  • Oil-based formula is durable.
  • UV and weather-resistant.
  • Works on multiple surfaces.
  • Abrasion, fade, and chip-resistant.

Cons

  • Oil-based formula is bad for the environment.
  • Needs thinner or mineral spirits to clean up.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-quart
Type Oil-based
Drying time 2 to 4 hours
Coverage 90 square feet
Price $$

2. Nuvo Cabinet Paint Titanium Infusion

Best Low-Odor Trim Paint

When you work inside, having paint with low odors makes it a more comfortable experience. This Nuvo cabinet paint is the ideal choice because it is water-based, which means odors are kept to a minimum.

It applies straight onto bare wood, and you can even coat painted timber as long as you lightly sand first. This paint is safe to use on kitchen cabinets, window sills, and every other wooden surface in your home.

It has low VOCs, so it is safer for the environment, and you get 50 square feet of coverage, which is a little meager compared to other paints. While the company doesn’t state the drying time, because it is water-based, it typically takes between 30 minutes to 2 hours to be dry enough for a second coat. It also cleans up with soap and water.

However, if you want this specialist cabinet paint, you will need to dig deep because it costs 3 times the price of the Stops Rust gloss paint.

Pros

  • Water-based is better for the environment.
  • Easy clean-up.
  • Low odors and VOCs.
  • Coats untreated and treated wood.

Cons

  • Limited coverage.
  • Expensive compared to other paints.

Product Specs

Quantity 0.8 quarts
Type Water-based
Drying time Not stated
Coverage 50 square feet
Price $$$$

3. Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Paint

Fastest Drying Paint for Trim

When you are working against the clock, having fast-drying paint is a real bonus. This Varathane Polyurethane paint dries to the touch in just 30 minutes. It only comes in tiny 8-ounce tins, so it might restrict the project size you can undertake, but you still get 31.25 square feet of coverage.

When it comes to the second coat, you should wait 2 hours, and the durable formula gives excellent scratch and stain resistance. This is a clear varnish rather than a paint, but if you want to retain the natural grain of your wooden surfaces, this is the ideal product.

This varnish is perfect for windows, doors, cabinets, trim, and so much more, and because this is a water-based product, it is easy to clean up and safer for the environment. It also dries to a high-gloss finish, enhancing your woodwork.

One thing to note is this is only suitable for interior use as it doesn’t have UV or weather resistance.

Pros

  • Dries to the touch in 30 minutes.
  • Stain and scratch-resistant.
  • Protects the natural wood grain.
  • High-gloss finish.

Cons

  • Limited coverage.
  • Only suitable on interior wood.

Product Specs

Quantity 8 fluid ounces
Type Water-based
Drying time Not stated
Coverage 31.25 square feet
Price $$

4. KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Paint

Best Primed Wood Trim Paint

This KILZ is perfect for all primed and pre-treated wood and a stand-out choice for outside trim like porches, window and door frames, as well as sidings and fences.

It’s a low-luster paint, so it applies smoothly and dries within 1 hour to the touch and 4 to 6 hours for recoats. This is a 1-gallon tin, so you should have plenty of paint for all those exterior trim projects, and you get between 200 and 300 square feet of coverage on rougher surfaces.

The spread increases to 400 square feet on smoother surfaces. As you would expect for exterior paint, it is UV-resistant, protects against cracking, peeling, and fading in all weather conditions.

This KILZ paint is mildew-resistant, and because it is a water-based formula, it washes clean easier and is safe for the environment.

The only downside is this is exterior paint, so it won’t cover interior trim; plus, it only works on properly prepared surfaces.

Pros

  • Maximum 400 square feet of coverage.
  • Ideal for primed wood.
  • UV and weather-resistant.
  • Protects against cracking, peeling, fading, and abrasion.

Cons

  • Only works on exterior surfaces.
  • Only applies to properly treated surfaces.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-gallon
Type Water-based
Drying time 4 to 6 hours
Coverage 400 square feet
Price $$$

5. Modern Masters Front Door Paint

Best Exterior Paint for Trim

When you want to touch up your front door, this Modern Masters exterior door paint really makes your property stand out from the crowd. And when you are done transforming your door, you will want your window frames and other woodwork to match.

It is a low odor paint, water-based, so it cleans up with soap and water and is safe for the environment thanks to low VOCs. It also means that if you want to paint the interior of your door, you can.

It dries to the touch in just 1 hour, and you get 100 square feet of coverage, and the Never Fade technology ensures the paint job stays looking its best for a very long time. The only downside is the price. It costs over 3 times the price of the Stops Rust paint.

Pros

  • Dries to the touch in 1 hour.
  • Low odor and low VOCs.
  • Works indoors and out.
  • Water-based, so easy to clean up.

Cons

  • Expensive when compared to other products.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-quart
Type Water-based
Drying time 1 hour
Coverage 100 square feet
Price $$$$

6. Prestige Interior Paint and Primer In One

Best Easy to Clean Trim Paint

It’s a fact of life that your interior trim work will get marked and stained. Hands, odors, cooking splatters all play their part. It’s important to choose washable paint like this Prestige primer, and paint in one.

The other advantage of this product is you don’t need to prime the surface before painting. Thanks to its water-based formula it has a super-smooth application, cleans up with soap and water, and is low in VOCs, which means it is better for the environment.

You get between 250 and 400 square feet of coverage depending on the quality and porosity of the surface, and it dries within 4 to 6 hours, ready for a second coat.

The semi-gloss finish dries to a hard, washable shell, and it even comes with a stirring stick and a can opener. However, it may not be suitable for all surfaces because gloss shows up every imperfection.

Pros

  • Washable thanks to the semi-gloss finish.
  • Low in VOCs and odors.
  • Water-based, so it is good for the environment.
  • Easy clean-up with soap and water.

Cons

  • Gloss is not suitable for all surfaces.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-gallon
Type Water-based
Drying time 4 to 6 hours
Coverage 250 to 400 square feet
Price $$$$

7. Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint

Best Acrylic Latex Paint for Trim

Acrylic latex paint is washable, low in odors and VOCs, so it is good for your health and the environment. It also means you can use it safely indoors without too much ventilation.

You get up to 120 square feet of coverage, depending on the porosity of the surface, and it dries to the touch in just 30 minutes for quick project completion. It has a matte finish, which is perfect for minimizing surface imperfections, and it applies to concrete, masonry, plaster, metal, and unglazed ceramic.

Because it is latex paint, it washes clean with soap and water, and it is suitable for interior and exterior projects. However, unlike some paints, this one requires thorough surface preparation with sandpaper and degreaser prior to painting it on.

Pros

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
  • 120 square feet of coverage depending on the surface quality.
  • Water-based, so it is good for the environment.
  • Easy clean-up with soap and water.

Cons

  • Requires significant surface preparation.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-quart
Type Water-based
Drying time 30 minutes
Coverage 120 square feet
Price $$

8. Microblend Interior Paint and Primer

Best Bare Wood Trim Paint

Because this Microblend product is a one-coat, paint and primer in one, you can paint it straight onto bare wood. That saves time and money. This paint is low in VOCs, odors, and it dries to a silky-smooth semi-gloss sheen.

This paint is stain-resistant, washable, and comes in over 300 color choices. You can get it in eggshell, satin, matte, and gloss sheens, and it comes in several sizes.

The thing that makes Microblend stand out is they are a paint on-demand company, which means they receive your order and make up your color batch on-demand. It means you get super-fresh paint, but the downside is that each batch may be a slightly different shade.

The other downside is you only get 87.5 square feet of coverage, which is meager compared to some products.

Pros

  • Washable and stain-resistant.
  • 300 plus color choices.
  • Paint and primer in one.
  • Paints straight onto bare wood.

Cons

  • Limited coverage.
  • Shades may vary slightly between batches.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-quart
Type Water-based
Drying time Not stated
Coverage 87.5 square feet
Price $$$

9. Majic Paints Satin Finish

Best Interior Paint for Trim

If you are looking for a great all-around performance from your trim paint, this Majic Paints hits the spot. It works on metal, wood, ceramics, drywall, glass, and just about any other surface you can think of.

It doesn’t require sanding or priming. It paints straight onto treated and untreated surfaces, which speeds up your project completion time, and it levels to a super-smooth finish.

It comes in 10 color options, and it covers up to 112 square feet, depending on the quality of the surface. It also dries to the touch in 1-hour and is ready for the second coat within 8 hours.

Now for the negatives: the paint surface is incredibly delicate for 30 days, so it should not be subjected to any impact. However, because it is a water-based product, it washes clean with soap and water and is better for the environment.

Pros

  • Dries to the touch in just 1-hour.
  • Comes in 10 color options.
  • Requires no priming.
  • Works on most surfaces.

Cons

  • An 8-hour wait between coats.
  • Surface stays delicate for 30 days.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-quart
Type Water-based
Drying time 8 hours
Coverage 112 square feet
Price $$

10. Diamond Brite Semi-Gloss Latex Paint

Best Budget Paint for Trim

When you are watching the pennies, finding a decent budget paint is all the more satisfying. This Diamond Brite is a great affordable trim paint. It dries to a hard shell with a semi-gloss finish and is suitable for walls and trim.

It has dirt and grease resistance, a low odor, which is better for indoor use in confined spaces, and it can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed.

The drying time between coats is 30 minutes, and you get 300 to 350 square feet of coverage, depending on the quality of the surface. Because it has a semi-gloss finish, it stands up to washing and scrubbing much better than matte colors.

As a negative, many customers have complained that this paint is thin, so it applies in several coats before you get a smooth finish.

Pros

  • Excellent budget option.
  • Dirt and grease-resistant.
  • Can be sprayed, brushed, or rolled on.
  • Maximum 350 square feet of spread.

Cons

  • The paint is thin, so it needs multiple coats.

Product Specs

Quantity 1-quart
Type Water-based
Drying time 30 minutes
Coverage 300 to 350 square feet
Price $

Product Comparison Chart

Product Best Quantity Type Drying time Coverage Price
Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Gloss White Paint Best Oil-Based 1-quart Oil-based 2 – 4 hours 90 sqft $$
Nuvo Cabinet Paint Titanium Infusion Best Low-Odor 0.8 quarts Water-based Not stated 50 sqft $$$$
Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Paint Fastest Drying 8 fluid ozs Water-based Not stated 31.25 sqft $$
KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Paint Best for Primed Wood 1-gal. Water-based 4 – 6 hours 400 sqft $$$
Modern Masters Front Door Paint Best Exterior 1-quart Water-based 1 hour 100 sqft $$$$
Prestige Interior Paint and Primer In One Best Easy to Clean 1-gal. Water-based 4 – 6 hours 250 – 400 sqft $$$$
Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint Best Acrylic Latex 1-quart Water-based 30 minutes 120 sqft $$
Microblend Interior Paint and Primer Best Bare Wood 1-quart Water-based Not stated 87.5 sqft $$$
Majic Paints Satin Finish Best Interior 1-quart Water-based 8 hours 112 sqft $$
Diamond Brite Semi-Gloss Latex Paint Best Budget 1-quart Water-based 30 minutes 300 – 350 sqft $

Types of Trim Paint

Trim paint comes in two varieties: Oil-based and latex/water-based. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

Alkyd/Oil-Based

Oil-based trim paint would have been the kind your parents and their parents used. It gives a smooth, glass-like finish, leaves minimal brush marks, and dries to a hard shell that protects your window sill and door frames from scuffs.

However, alkyd paints are smelly, making them a challenge to use indoors without good ventilation. They are also harmful to the environment because they contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which emit low-level ozone during the drying process.

Oil-based trim paint takes a long time to cure compared to water-based products, but they are better at filling minor gaps and dents in the woodwork because the formula is thicker and contains a higher amount of resin and binding agents.

Top Tip

Use a natural fiber brush because synthetic bristles react with the paint.

Acrylic Latex or Enamel

Water-based paints are generally thinner and don’t cover as well to mask dents and gaps in the woodwork, but they are better for the environment and have low odors, which means they are better for indoor use.

Latex trim paint also cleans up easier with soap and water, and you can also apply it using either a natural or synthetic brush. Water-based products dry faster, so if you are in a rush, it cuts the time needed to complete the task, but they don’t dry with that same hard shell.

Who Makes the Best Interior Trim Paint?

So, what brands should you be looking for in your search for the best trim paint? Which names stand out? Let’s find out.

Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore is a long-standing paint business established in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York. It all started when the Moore brothers produced Moores Prepared Calsom Finish and set up a store to sell their product to the world.

Today, the company has a proud history of environmental practices, green facilities, and excellent employment standards.

Behr

The company started life in 1947 by Otho Behr JR. to sell linseed oil wood stains to paint stores directly from the trunk of his car.

Behr approached his father, a chemist, to help develop a redwood stain formula, and the company’s fortunes improved. He moved production into an 800 square foot building in California but soon outgrew that facility and expanded to a larger building.

Behr was one of the first companies to offer a paint mixing service, developing a computerized scanning system based inside Home Depot stores.

Valspar

Valspar is the granddaddy of the paint world, starting life in 1806 in Boston, Massachusetts. Samuel Tuck opened the Paint and Color dealership but later sold the business to Augustine Stimson.

Over the next 200 years, the company was bought, sold, and merged with numerous companies, and by 1932, it was known as the Valspar Corporation. Today, Valspar is famed for the quality of its products but is best known for its clear varnish.

The company is the 5th largest manufacturer of paint in North America and operates out of 32 manufacturing plants across the globe.

Rust-Oleum

Rust-Oleum began life in 1921 when sea Captain Robert Fergusson discovered that fish oil preserved his rusted metal decks. He started a company manufacturing paint with whale oil, although eventually, whale oil was replaced with synthetic ingredients to give the same consistency and protective qualities.

Today, the company is famed for rust treatment products and interior and exterior paints.

Dutch Boy

Dutch Boy started in 1907 using the ancient paint mixing principles of two 16th century Dutch chemists. It remained the standard that other paints were judged against for centuries after. Dutch Boy keeps that paint-making tradition alive in its products.

Today, the company is part of a larger corporation called the Sherwin-Williams Company but is regarded as a heritage brand with its instantly recognizable logo.

What to Look For (Buying Guide)

What factors make one trim paint stand out from another, and what should you focus on when making your paint choices? We look at some basics.

Type

The type of wood paint you use depends on the amount of punishment it gets. Water-based products will scratch and scuff easier than oil-based trim paint. However, oils have VOCs, which are bad for the environment and produce high levels of odors.

Latex trim paint dries faster and is easier to clean up with soap and water, whereas solvent and oil products are thicker, spread better, leave fewer brush marks, and dry to a hard shell. However, they are also trickier to use and take much longer than water-based paints to dry.

Location

Where you intend to use the paint has an impact on the types you choose. Oil-based paints are better for outdoor use because you have good ventilation, and when it dries, it is much more robust to the elements.

Water-based trim paint is better for indoor use because it is low odor and is easier to apply. It spreads smoothly and dries in double-quick time compared to oil-based trim paint.

That said, you can use latex paints outside. They have excellent UV and water resistance, making them a natural choice, but they don’t last as long between recoats as oil-based paints.

Drying Speed

You get a much faster drying speed with latex paints than oil-based products, so if you want to get the job done in double-quick time, this is the route to go.

Oil-based paints take twice as long to cure, but when they do, they dry rock hard, protecting your interior and exterior trim. The only problem with paints containing oil or solvents is they tend to yellow, especially if you paint your woodwork white.

Ease of Cleaning

Most modern trim paint is wipeable, but the most durable is the semi-gloss and gloss finishes. They dry to a glass-like sheen capable of repelling water and moisture, so it is ideal for wiping.

Matte finishes mark easier, especially in high-traffic areas like hallways and reception areas.

Quality

Trim paint quality comes down to how well it adheres. It determines how long it stays on your trim, the sheen because that affects the durability of the paint and how smooth it coats your woodwork.

Oil-based paints give a thicker coating and show fewer brush marks. They also dry a lot smoother. Water-based products are more user-friendly and easier to clean up after use.

Odor

Latex paints have almost no odors, and they rarely cause you any health issues. It makes them ideal for indoor use. If you are using oil-based paints indoors, you need to ensure good ventilation because they have a strong odor that could cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.

Budget

Your budget dictates the quality of the paint. Typically, the more features the paint has, the more expensive it is. So, additives like stain blockers, mold and mildew resistance, and UV protection all increase the cost of the product.


FAQs

How Do You Prevent Brush Strokes When Painting Trim?

The most obvious solution is to paint with the wood grain. Never try and do the opposite, or it will show. You could also invest more time in the prep work by sanding smooth, ensuring all the old paint is gone.

You could also use a paint conditioner, which improves the viscosity of the formula. Another method is to get the best quality brushes you can afford. And don’t paint with old brushes if the bristles are matted together.

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Is Satin or Semi-Gloss Better for Trim?

It depends on the finish you want. Satin has a softer sheen, so while it is durable and washable, it won’t outperform gloss. Gloss dries with a hard shell that repels water, staining and can be scrubbed clean when it gets dirty.

However, if your wooden trim is pitted and blemished, gloss paint will show every imperfection.

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Should You Paint Trim White?

White paint reflects light, which is ideal for window sills, baseboards, and door frames; however, you can paint your trim any color you want. It all depends on your color scheme. If you have white walls, you might want to consider a different shade to break up the plainness of the color and add some warmth to the design.

Should You Paint Trim or Walls First?

The traditional way to paint a room is to work down, starting with the ceiling, the walls, and then the trim. This is because paint drips. For a simple way to remember, follow the laws of gravity.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.