How to paint crown moldings and ornaments (2023)

Interior trim and crown molding accentuate your rooms, and when painted or beautifully finished, these decorative features can be the final touch that makes your home improvement project feel complete. So when repainting walls or updating decor, remember to pay special attention to these areas to really pull your room together.

Step 1: Choose a color

Many people choose stained wood paneling or crown molding for a natural wood effect. This project will focus on finishing the decorations and frames with paint. Common color choices for trim and framing are neutral colors that go with a room's walls, windows, and doors. A typical trick is to paint the trim darker than the wall using a darker or deeper version of that color.

If you prefer more color, you can create an attractive balance between your walls, trim and moldings by choosing complementary colors, which are colors next to each other on the color wheel. For more contrast, use complementary colors (located opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green or orange and blue).

The certified paint experts at your local True Value hardware store can answer any paint color questions you have and point you in the right direction based on your preferences. Get a custom mixed color sample to experiment with different colors on your ceiling or walls. You can also grab one of our handy painting idea cards to help you choose your palette.

Step 2: Select the ink type

True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint comes in a wide range of colors in durable, smooth, smooth, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss finishes and is easy to apply and easy to clean up when the job is done. Semi-gloss and gloss finishes are best for cutting and styling. Semi-gloss has a higher level of gloss than a satin finish, but is not as shiny as high-gloss. High gloss is good for finishing frequently washed areas.


Helpful Hint

Latex-based paint can be applied over an acrylic or oil-based primer.

Step 3: Select the brushes

Use high quality enamel or varnish brushes. They hold more color, apply easily and don't leave streaks. Choose brushes with sharp tips and tapered tips. Small, corner nose brushes are good for working on moldings, door frames, baseboards and any small, hard-to-reach areas around corners and for detail work. You can use a larger brush for the trim, trim and doors.

If you use latex or water-based paints, you should use synthetic brushes (usually a combination of polyester and nylon bristles), which retain their shape and stiffness even in large amounts of water. If your paint is oil-based, choose brushes with natural bristles.

Stage 4: Prepare for painting

Before you start painting, prepare the crown molding or finish surfaces. Preparation takes time and effort, but it makes painting easier. And the results last longer, so the preparation is definitely worth it.

Paint does not adhere well to dirt, so be sure to clean surfaces thoroughly before starting. Dust and wipe all surfaces to be painted. For crown molding, window tops, or door frames, use a ladder or a small extension ladder to get there.

Helpful Hint

Give it a good clean, even on a new finish, just to make sure the piece you're painting is fully primed and ready to go. The cleaner the surfaces, the better the job will be finished.

Use a sponge dipped in a phosphate-free cleaner and warm water to clean all the wood. Use a soft brush for crevices and, if necessary, an abrasive sponge cleaner for stubborn stains. Rinse the surfaces thoroughly and dry thoroughly with an absorbent towel.

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Use plastic or tarpaulin drop cloths to protect the floor from any paint that may drip or splatter. If your room is carpeted and you are painting the baseboard, cover the edges with blue masking tape, placing it on the baseboard and using a putty knife to push it under the edge. Most frames have a gap under the bottom edge to make room for carpet. if yours doesn't have one, push the tape as far as you can between the carpet and the frame.

Masking tape should also be used to protect the edges of walls and ceilings adjacent to siding and framing. Last but not least, if any material is stuck to the liner, remove what you can and glue the rest.

helpful tips

To secure double carpet, use a double strip of tape. Place the second line parallel to the first, essentially doubling its width.

To prevent paint from running under the tape onto adjacent walls and ceilings, press the edges of the tape down with a wooden block to seal them well.

It is inevitable that some finishes will experience daily wear and tear. Dents, nicks and scratches can be very noticeable and detract from the overall look of a room, so it's important to repair any imperfections before you start painting. Sanding works well to remove surface dings or scratches. For best results, use sandpaper on a rubber sanding block or a sanding pad if the surface is uneven. Start by sanding with 80-grit paper until the dent or scratch is smooth, then sand and smoke the surrounding area with 120-grit paper. Wipe the area with a slightly damp cloth to remove any dust and grit.

Wood filler should be used in areas of more severe damage. First roughen the surface with coarse sandpaper to ensure good adhesion. Then spread the wood material with a spatula. When it is hard and dry, wash off with sand.

Helpful Hint

Shine a bright light at a low angle across the entire trim surface to identify paint drips, brush hairs, chipped paint, dings and scratches that need repair.

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Security notice!

Lead is toxic and scraping, sanding or removing old paint can release lead dust into the air. Children and pregnant women should stay away from the work area during this process. When working with lead dust, wear a NIOSH-approved respirator and clean up all residue thoroughly with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter and wet mop. Before you begin, learn the proper methods to protect yourself by contacting the National Helpline at 1-800-424-LEAD or

If your woodwork has a glossy finish, it is important to make it opaque so that the paint adheres effectively. To remove the gloss, lightly sand the area with 120-grit sandpaper or apply a degreaser with a brush, available for latex or oil paints. Vacuum up the sanding dust when you're done.

helpful tips

Thorough degreasing is critical if your siding was previously oil-based and now you want to switch to water-based. If you skip this step, your new paint won't stick or wear well.

To find out if your paneling was latex or oil painted, rub the surface with a cloth soaked in denatured alcohol. Oil-based paint will not be affected, but latex paint will soften and stain the fabric.

Security notices!

When you rub indoors, you keep the air clean by creating an easy exhaust system. Place a box fan in an open window to circulate air and direct airborne dust outside.

As a safety precaution, follow all label instructions and precautions for using power tools and polish removers.

Step 5: Prime and paint

Before painting the trim or crown molding, you will first want to prep the surfaces with True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealant. Apply a coat, or two if needed, using a small brush. Use your stepladder or stepladder to prepare and paint crown moldings and ornaments that are out of reach. Allow each coat to dry completely (overnight if possible) before continuing.

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When priming and painting, position the brush covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the bristles and tap the brush against the side of the can to remove excess paint. Apply to one side of the brush in a sweeping motion. Use the return trip to unload the other side, starting right where the first hit ended. Finish each area with a long, light finishing stroke. Be sure to brush in the direction of the color you just applied each time you start a new stroke. For best results, paint only a few yards of trim or molding at a time. Clean up any drips or spills before they dry.

helpful tips

Accidents happen. If you accidentally drip paint onto an adjacent surface, wrap a cotton cloth around the edge of a putty knife and use it to carefully remove the spilled surface. You'll have a nice sharp edge that removes unwanted paint without scratching the surface of the trim.

You can use denatured alcohol or Oh! All-purpose remover and cleaner for removing dried latex paint splatters or drips. If using on carpet, test on an inconspicuous area first, as these products can remove the color.

Step 6: Clean up

Rinse the brushes thoroughly under water until the water runs clear, then place them on a rotating brush/roller to remove excess liquid. Then store them in their protective sleeves or hang them from nails or hooks. Gather up all the rags, being careful not to spill any wet paint that may still be on them. Remember to remove all painter's tape as well - the longer it sits, the harder it will be to remove.

Good job! You are done. Freshly painted trim and crown molding was just the professional look your room needed.

Project shopping list

Here's what you need to successfully complete this project.

  • EasyCare Ultra Premium interior paint
  • EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer
  • Synthetic brush (for latex or water-based paint)
  • Brushes with natural bristles (for oil-based or alkyd paints)
  • Small brushes with corners
  • large brush
  • Staircase
  • Sponge
  • Cloth or old towel
  • gentle cleanser
  • Vacuum
  • phosphate-free cleaner
  • soft brush
  • abrasive cleaning pad
  • absorbent towel
  • small staircase
  • Plastic or canvas sails
  • duct tape
  • spatula
  • rubber sanding pad
  • Sanding sponge (for uneven surfaces)
  • Sandpaper (80, 120 and 220 grit)
  • wood filler
  • NIOSH approved respirator (for lead paint removal)
  • Vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter(if it is necessary)
  • Rub
  • Deglosser
  • Denatured alcohol (optional)
  • Ouch! Remover and all purpose cleaner
  • box fan
  • Long paint margin tool
  • Solvent
  • Rotary brush/roller


What kind of paint do you use on crown molding? ›

Semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes are best for trim and molding. Semi-gloss has a higher gloss level than a satin finish, but isn't as shiny as high-gloss.

Do you have to prime crown molding before painting? ›

Painting Molding

While you have options about how to approach painting your walls, you should always paint or otherwise finish the molding itself prior to installation. Prime the molding before painting, and for both paint and other finishes, apply the finish to all sides, even the back. This prevents warping.

Should molding be satin or semi-gloss? ›

Semi-gloss finish: This is the best finish for your trims such as baseboards, mouldings and even cabinets and doors. It's also a good choice for highly trafficked area that gets lots of wear and tear such as a mudroom.

Should I spray or brush crown molding? ›

The Best Way to Paint Crown Molding

Spraying has obvious advantages over brushing, mostly the time and energy saved from not having to climb up and down a ladder all day with a paint brush. Brushing brown crown molding with primer and paint is a bigger time investment than using a paint sprayer.

What is the best brush to paint crown molding with? ›

The best brushes for painting crown molding are the angled sash varnish or enamel brushes with flagged tips and tapered edges. Unlike regular brushes, these brushes hold more paint, facilitate paint application and leave a smooth finish with less brush strokes.

Do you caulk crown molding before or after painting? ›

Yes, caulking trim before painting is usually best, as any imperfections will be filled in by caulk. Then, once painted, the surface should look perfect. Caulking your trim after painting is still possible, but you'll need to use more caution to not damage your recently completed painting project.

Should crown molding always be painted white? ›

Painting all window and door trim, crown molding and baseboards the same colour provides consistency, but is not a rule. For example, only black baseboards will anchor a room while having only black crown moulding will frame the ceiling and draw your eye up.

What is the best paint brush to avoid brush marks? ›

The best paint brush for a smooth finish is the Purdy Nylox Glide brush. It has super soft bristles that do not leave brush marks. It's perfect to use with latex paint. Projects that are perfect for this paint brush include painting cabinets, trim, furniture and doors.

Can you use a roller to paint crown molding? ›

Use a high-density foam roller or brush to apply the finishes. Rollers speed the job and lay on an even, smooth finish. You will have to do some touch up after the trim has been installed, such as over filled nail holes, but this approach saves a lot of time.

What happens if you don't prime before painting? ›

Scenario #1: Unpainted wood and drywall

However, because it absorbs so well, without a primer coat, you'll experience uneven coverage, especially along drywall seams. This means you'll need to apply more paint to finally get an even coat. Even then, you may still find yourself repainting again sooner than later.

Do you paint the ceiling or crown molding or walls first? ›

The ceiling should always be painted first. This allows you to effectively cover the surface with at least two coats while not having to worry about any over-spray (the effect of excess paint being sprayed onto the walls) by the roller.

Is it always better to prime before painting? ›

Absolutely. A primer preps the painting surface and seals any stains so that the paint adheres well, and you'll get the smoothest, cleanest finish possible. Read on to find out why you should never skip priming before painting.

Should trim be painted flat or satin? ›

In my opinion, satin paint is the best finish for interior trim and doors. It has such a sleek finish, it's still durable and easy to clean, and it's not going to show nearly as many imperfections as a high-gloss paint would. Proof that a satin finish provides the perfect shine for doors and trim!

What paint sheen is best for trim? ›

Semigloss: Provides a sleek, radiant sheen that's great for cabinets and trim, high-traffic areas and high-moisture areas like bathrooms or crown molding/trim.

What is the most popular trim finish? ›

Hands down, satin is the most popular finish for any type of trims, doors and mouldings.

Why do you turn crown molding upside down? ›

Chris Marshall: Crown molding is typically cut upside down on a miter saw so the narrow edge that will rest against the wall butts against the saw fence and the top edge of the molding that will meet the ceiling rests on the saw table.

Do you caulk top and bottom of crown molding? ›

Regardless of how well-installed your crown molding is, it's always a good idea to caulk both the top and bottom. This is the best way to ensure a uniform look and get rid of any unsightly gaps that may be present. Read on to find out how you can caulk crown molding.

Do you paint trim or walls first? ›

In most cases, we recommend painting your trim before your walls. Let the paint dry, then tape off the trim and move on to the walls. Using high-quality semi-gloss paint will protect the wood as well as leave a pleasing shine to your trim and baseboards.

Do you paint crown molding same color as trim? ›

Yes! Painting walls and trim in the same color is a popular trend. Whether you choose a light neutral color or a dark jewel tone, it is more than okay to paint your walls, baseboards, window and door trim, doors, crown molding, and even your ceilings all the same color.

Do painters caulk before painting? ›

Caulking serves some very important functions for a painter -- from sealing out moisture and drafts from a building, to concealing cracks and gaps in exterior siding or interior walls prior to painting.

Does trim need 2 coats of paint? ›

You'll only need one coat of primer, but plan on applying two (possibly three) coats of paint when painting baseboards and trim, and be sure to let each coat dry thoroughly before moving onto the next.

Can you paint molding without sanding? ›

You can paint over stained wood, painted wood and so much more with this simple (not-so-secret) method. Through the years, I have received the questions “can wood be painted without sanding”, “can cabinets be painted without sanding”, and “can trim be painted without sanding”? The answer is absolutely.

How do you paint trim and make it look smooth? ›

Once your first coat of paint is dry, lightly sand with 320 or 360 grit sandpaper. Most people skip the sanding step between coats, but this will give you the smoothest finish. Next, repeat the same process with your finish coat of paint. Most trim only requires two coats of paint.

How do you make crown molding stand out? ›

For example, using darker colors for moulding and a new coat of paint done up in lighter colors makes it stand out the most because the darker colors command so much more attention.

Is it hard to paint crown molding? ›

While crown molding isn't a complicated process, there are several choices you need to consider and tips that can make the job easier. Before or after: While you can paint your molding after installation, it is easier to do it before. If you paint after installation, you'll have to use a ladder to get around.

Can you paint brown crown molding white? ›

Yes, wood trim takes white paint very well. To prepare, use a liquid deglosser to rough up the surface a bit, then do a coat of primer using Kilz or Zinzer. Your wood trim will be ready for white paint!

What kind of paint brush gives the smoothest finish? ›

If you're painting a smooth surface, use a white China bristle for a smooth finish or, if you need to achieve an even finer finish, a China bristle blended with ox hair is recommended.

What brushes do professional painters use? ›

While paintbrush bristles can have either synthetic or natural bristles, synthetic bristles are the most practical. Commonly used by DIY-ers and professional painters alike, they work well with water-based paints like Aura® Interior, ben® Interior, and Regal® Select Interior.

What paint does not leave brush strokes? ›

The easiest way to paint without brush marks is to paint with a matte or chalky paint. Flat paint hides imperfections, including brush strokes the most. My absolute favorite matte paint is this one by Fusion Mineral. It comes in lots of trendy colors and is pretty durable on its own.

Should crown molding be painted flat or semi gloss? ›

Semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes are best for trim and molding. Semi-gloss has a higher gloss level than a satin finish, but isn't as shiny as high-gloss. High-gloss is good for trim areas that are washed often.

What size brush for crown molding? ›

You need to select a high-quality angled bristle paint brush which is better for cutting in, rather than trying to cut in with a flat brush. A 35 mm paintbrush is the perfect size to work into those small tricky areas and will allow you to maneuver the brush a lot better.

What is the best roller for painting moulding? ›

6- or 7-inch rollers are a good size for painting baseboard molding or small furnishings. These rollers are also useful for getting into corners or reaching behind the toilet to paint the wall.

Will a second coat of paint get rid of roller marks? ›

Fortunately, just as you do with your walls, you can get rid of roller marks on the ceiling by applying another coat of paint or using a fine grit sandpaper to knock down the ridges.

How do you make paint lines crisp? ›

The secret to crisp, clean lines: paint over the edge of your masking tape with the existing color of the wall (or whatever surface you're painting). By brushing over the edge of the tape, you're effectively sealing the paint, and any paint that bleeds through will match the existing color.

Do you paint crown molding same as ceiling or walls? ›

Though it certainly can be, crown moulding does not have to be painted the same color as the ceilings and walls. Using a different colored moulding can really round out a room and add a bit of character.

What is the best paint for doors and molding? ›

Semi-gloss paint is always best for trim, doors and cabinetry because it's so easy to wipe clean. You can also choose gloss paint because it's also so easy to clean, but it's significantly shinier.

Should I paint crown molding with ceiling paint? ›

If your crown moulding is going into a room with high ceilings, you may want it to be the same color as the ceiling to make the room appear smaller. The opposite is valid for a room with low ceilings, as a trim in a contrasting color will make the room appear more spacious.

Should crown molding be painted with flat paint? ›

Flat paint is a great choice for crown molding if you want a subtle, classic look. It's great for rooms with a neutral color scheme, as it won't draw too much attention to itself. This type of paint also hides imperfections in the wall and provides a smooth, even finish.

Should crown molding be the same color as baseboards? ›

Painting all window and door trim, crown molding and baseboards the same colour provides consistency, but is not a rule. For example, only black baseboards will anchor a room while having only black crown moulding will frame the ceiling and draw your eye up. Similarly, door casings and doors don't have to match.

Should crown molding be white? ›

Myth #6: Crown moldings should always be white.

This is a frequent design faux pas; in fact, crown moldings should be the same color as the moldings that are already in your house. They can also be painted or stained to match existing color schemes, making them perfectly suitable for any room decor.

Is Sherwin Williams paint better than Behr? ›

In comparing Sherwin and Behr, Sherwin Williams surpasses Behr products in terms of coverage, color consistency, in-store support, and long-term value, whereas Behr paints are cheaper and thicker.

Do you paint walls or trim first? ›

Paint the Trim and Baseboards

In most cases, we recommend painting your trim before your walls. Let the paint dry, then tape off the trim and move on to the walls. Using high-quality semi-gloss paint will protect the wood as well as leave a pleasing shine to your trim and baseboards.

Which Sherwin Williams paint is best for trim? ›

Oil/Alkyd. Good adhesion, excellent durability and stain resistance make Sherwin-Williams oil/alkyd-based paints excellent choices for trim in high-traffic rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

What is the best color to paint crown molding? ›

What Are the Best Crown Molding Colors?
  • White. White is a classic color that can be used in any room. ...
  • Cream. Cream is a great alternative to white if you want a softer look. ...
  • Gray. Gray is a trendy color that can create a modern or contemporary look. ...
  • Black. Black is a bold color that can add drama to any room. ...
  • Green. ...
  • Purple.
Dec 14, 2022

What color should I paint my ceiling to make it look higher? ›

Paint your ceiling a color lighter than the walls, preferably white. Some believe high-gloss paint is best because it reflects light and makes the ceiling look somehow less fixed and static, while others say a matte finish will help the ceiling to blend in more.

Should ceiling paint be flat or glossy? ›

Ceilings should almost always be painted in a flat, matte acrylic paint. The reason for this is that: Flat paint will not reflect light or draw attention away from the wall and room furnishings. Ceilings don't receive much wear and tear, so a glossy, durable paint is not necessary.

Should crown molding be darker or lighter than walls? ›

Crown molding not only adds visual appeal to any room, but actually gives the impression of raising the ceiling to make the room appear larger. Crown molding should be painted lighter than your walls to create a slight contrast and draw attention to the space's architectural beauty.


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