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Easiest Tips for Fixing Trim in Your High-Traffic Living Space

calander Jun 5 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

The trim inside your home and your house exterior are often among the first features to take on damage, especially if your living space experiences plenty of activity. While your walls and other surfaces are also susceptible to scuffs, scrapes, nicks, and holes, trim juts out, making it a prime target for injury and deterioration. When your interior or exterior trim takes a hit, neglecting it can result in further damage while diminishing your property’s visual appeal. That said, finding the time, tools, and tenacity to fix your trim is often easier said than done in a high-traffic setting. To ease the burden a bit, let’s list some of our top tips for repairing and enhancing your trim.

Tackle Trim Repair at the Right Time of Day

Handling any home renovation can be a challenge when you’re dealing with many distractions, and trim repair is no exception. Fortunately, a typical trim repair project takes about a day at most to complete; the key is finding the right day and time of day to get the job done. If possible, shoot for a time when people won’t be inside or near the property (e.g., during school, work, vacation, etc.). If you’re hiring professional home painting services, make sure they can fit into your specific schedule. For DIY projects, you’ll have to make time in your personal schedule to tackle trim repair. Either way, starting earlier in the day is often better to ensure that the project doesn’t get dragged out across multiple days.

Repair or Replace?

Depending on the nature and severity of your trim problems, it might be necessary to replace what was there with a new feature rather than repair it. It’s important to determine whether repair or replacement is the best course of action before you get started so you can collect the right materials for the job and approach it properly -- otherwise you may need to undo your work. Generally speaking, trim replacement is in order if most or all of the wood has rotted through (or you simply want to update your home with a different design). Otherwise, repairs usually suffice to reinforce your trim and make it look good as new.

Clean the Area First

Once you’ve decided to repair your trim, you’ll want to start by thoroughly cleaning it to remove dust, dirt, and grime. There are various ways to clean your trim, but the most effective is to wet a sponge with a TSP (trisodium phosphate) substitute and scrub the trim with this solution to remove grime and grease. Then, rinse the trim with water and gently dab it dry with a cloth. Any paint that’s peeling away should be removed, too; denatured alcohol and/or abrasive pads can help further loosen old paint and finish.

Sand Down the Rougher Areas

After your trim is clean and free from old, loose paint, use a sanding block to smooth out the rough portions and establish a more even surface. The edges of the sanding block will help you reach those nooks and crannies common in more decorative types of trim. This process will also help get rid of any remaining paint that’s no longer strongly sticking to the surface.

Fill Holes, Cracks, and Dents with Joint Compound

Now, you should be looking at relatively bare trim, its flaws out in the open. If there are missing pieces, gouges, dents, holes, cracks, or other physical forms of damage, these can often be fixed with a durable all-purpose joint compound. Using a putty knife (and your fingers if necessary), spread a reasonable amount of compound over the damaged area until it’s completely covered. Then, use a drywall blade to gently make the compound as flush with the trim as possible (more coats will be needed in most cases). Let that initial coat dry and then do the same thing again with a fresh coat of compound. Repeat these steps until you’ve got enough compound to fully fill the damaged area. From there, get your sanding block back out and gently rub it against the area to make the repair blend in more seamlessly with the rest of the trim. You may want to apply one more coat just to round things out, let it dry, and sand down again.

Apply Painter’s Tape to Edges

At this point, your trim’s shape and integrity should be restored. Of course, you’ll now have some painting to do in order to conceal your repair work. Like any other exterior or interior painting project, painter’s tape is a powerful ally in achieving even lines. Properly place your tape along the edges of your trim so you don’t get any unwanted paint on the surrounding surfaces.

Use a Small, Angled Brush

For trim painting, you’ll want to be as precise as possible. A sturdy, small, angular brush will offer you the control you’re looking for. Using such an accurate applicator will allow you to paint within the lines, fill in every groove, and administer smooth, even strokes.

Spot Prime Before Painting

Before you apply the first coat of paint, though, make sure you apply primer to the areas you’ve just repaired -- this task is known as spot priming. Failing to spot prime before interior or exterior home painting often results in dull, discolored spots that reveal the repair locations.

Apply Semi-Gloss or Gloss Paint

When it’s finally time to paint your trim, it’s often recommended that you use paint with a semi-gloss or glossy finish. These glossier finishes are more durable and easier to clean than their flatter counterparts, and they also allow your trim to stand out and elevate your property. If you’re not sure what paint brand or type to go with, consult reliable local painters for some insight (or simply have them tackle the whole project for you).

Don’t Forget to Caulk

Lastly, whether you’ve repaired, replaced, or merely painted your trim, it’s important to inspect your caulking and replace it if necessary. Caulk is a synthetic waterproof material that’s designed to seal joints and seams. Maintaining proper caulking around your trim will help prevent moisture from deteriorating these surfaces, thereby keeping future trim repairs and replacement to a minimum.

Too Busy to Tackle Your Trim Problems?

Though trim renovations are usually completed pretty quickly, it’s not always easy to find the time or space to get it done on your own. At Nash Painting, our teams have tackled trim repairs, home interior painting, commercial painting, door refinishing, and much more in a wide variety of settings across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. Let us help you fix and update the trim in your high-traffic living space. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!