What Color & Sheen Should You Paint Your Trim?

Considering what color and sheen to paint your trim? Use this guide to get all the interior design ideas you need to tackle the project.

By Keelan Happel


You may think deciding what color and sheen to paint your trim in your home is as easy as picking up a can of white paint, but it can actually be quite confusing. The world of paint has progressed immensely over the past 10 years, which creates a fertile ground for interior design ideas in your home, but as a consumer it can make the selection process overwhelming.


Before heading to your local paint store, read these tips about trim colors and sheens to learn how to pick the right paint and finish for your home.


Molding provides layers and depth to a room, and it’s a great way to add architectural elements into a blank space. Whether your trim is in the form of a baseboard, crown molding, wainscoting, or chair rail, you want to make sure the paint you choose is the best one to help enhance the woodwork and your room as a whole.




Trim Colors

Paint selecting can be exhausting, so when it comes to the trim, many people just reach for the simple white and don’t give it much more thought but that’s such a mistake!


A shade of white for trim will offset both soft and bold paint colors and wallpapers perfectly, creating a contrast that will enhance the look of your wall's color. In a room with a soft palette, white trim will make the colors look cleaner. In a room with a bold palette, white trim will help to brighten the space and relieve the eye.




There are so many beautiful shades of white that range from warm tones to cool tones, so steer clear from those stark whites and find a white whose undertone is similar to your wall color.


Some designer favorites for trim colors are Farrow & Ball’s Matchstick, and Benjamin Moore’s “Marshmallow,” “White Dove” and “Cotton Balls.”


A new trend in the trim world is to paint the walls and trim the same color. By doing this you instantly add drama and uniformity to your space. If painting your crown molding the same as your walls, you will be adding height to your room and the space will seem larger. In this instance, you would make sure to use the same interior paint sheen on both the walls and trim.




Sheen Finishes

Don’t get nervous by the finish terms “high gloss,” “semi-gloss,” “satin” and “flat/matte.” An easy rule of thumb in the interior design paint world is the higher the sheen, the higher the shine, which also means higher durability.




A matte or flat finish will provide a clean, smooth, and subtle finish. This is perfect for your ceilings in contrast to your trim as it will have no shine or reflection. It’s also the most difficult to clean so it’s not ideal for high-traffic places.


A satin finish provides a silky sheen when dry and will reflect more light than a flat finish. It’s the finish loved by interior designers to use on trim as it gives the perfect amount of beautiful sheen that will make your moldings pop and help to enhance the architectural elements of the space. It’s also ideal for high-traffic areas, being easy to clean.


Semi-gloss or high gloss finishes will reflect the most light of all the finish types, and will be the most durable as well. Both are great finishes to be used for the frames of doors and windows, especially if you’re in a home with kids, as you will be able to scrub without removing any of the pigment from the paint.


Try to stick with the same trim color throughout your home, even if each room is painted or wallpapered differently. It will create a cohesiveness and make your life slightly easier!




Here’s our final tip on this topic: When selecting any interior paint, we always suggest before you invest, purchase a quart and test the color out on a piece of your molding or wall to avoid any concerns or doubts!




Images used with permission, courtesy of www.dreamstime.com and www.shutterstock.com

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