Priming And Painting Our Trim And Doors With A Paint Sprayer

If we’ve made one thing clear about our new house, it’s that we’re not crazy about the trim colors…

Somewhere between the Williamsburg Blue and the Muddy Mauve, our painting hands began to quiver with excitement. Or was that dread? Not sure.

We reasoned that while all of the carpet was up and before the new hardwoods went down, we should take advantage of the can-get-painted subfloor and go ahead and tackle the upstairs trim. Correction: trim and doors. Sixteen doors to be exact… which we removed and de-hardwared first for easy painting.

Attempting to quickly paint four bedrooms and closets worth of trim along with a long hallway plus nine windows (with tons o’ mullions) and the aforementioned sixteen doors seemed like a job that warranted a paint sprayer. So we decided it was finally time to get one. And thanks to a suggestion from the Bowers, we picked up this Graco TrueCoat II which was on sale for $180 at Lowe’s (update: here’s an affiliate link to a similar paint sprayer over on Amazon since the one we bought is no longer available). We opted to buy one instead of renting it because there’s still plenty of stuff to paint in this house beyond just these things – so we’d like to have one that we can use a bunch of times as we move from room to room (did we mention there’s still a ton of blue trim downstairs?).

The sprayer is a lot simpler than I expected. It’s pretty much just a plastic cup attached to the gun, which just plugs in. So there wasn’t much in the means of set-up (although we definitely read the directions twice just to make sure we didn’t screw it up). Then we dove into our primer coat.

We’ve heard that the biggest pain of owning a paint sprayer is clean up, so we opted to use a provided bag in the paint cup to keep it clean and hopefully eliminate one step afterwards.

We don’t have a ton of pictures of the process because one of us was downstairs with Clara while the other sprayed. And also, the process was pretty darn fast. We could zip along the baseboards of one room in about 10 to 15 minutes, and the majority of that time was usually spent refilling the paint cup.

So I definitely agree with what everyone had told me about spraying: it’s MUCH faster, but you use a lot more paint. I could only get through about two door sides before having to refill my paint cup. But boy was it satisfying to watch that blue paint disappear with each swipe. And it’s not that you’re wasting paint, it’s just that you’re getting more coverage (spraying the front of a door once might take twice as much paint, but it’s akin to two coats applied with a brush).

Once we feel a bit more seasoned with the sprayer we’ll do a deeper post about using it, but for now I feel like we’re still getting the hang of it. Our biggest challenge is fighting the urge to go back and “touch up” a spot we missed because we found it’s very easy to apply too much paint and create drips.

But if you go slowly and resist the urge to double spray, the smooth factory-like finish is amazing.

We made the call to paint the windows by hand rather than attempt to get every nook and cranny of it sprayed (we pictured a ton of rogue drips and a bunch of overspray covering all of the glass panes). After the fact, we’re not so sure it was the right call since our hand technique will still require some glass scraping with a razor and all of the blue/mauve windows took one coat of primer plus 3 coats of paint each since we were doing them by hand. Woof.

So yeah, this has pretty much been keeping us busy for the last few days. Spraying only occupied two mornings (priming one, painting the next) but we’ve made several trips to hand paint the windows and other areas that we couldn’t spray easily. I’ve lost track of which trip these photos were taken, but you can see what a difference it’s making.

We didn’t bother to tape off the walls or floors or anything around the sprayed areas (except for some too-close-for-comfort outlets and vents). So it means the walls are in desperate need of painting now too, but that’s a project for another day.

Some rooms, like the guest room and our master, only had cream trim/doors so they didn’t require any primer. Which meant this whole paint job only took 2 gallons of primer. Not bad for four rooms, four closets, nine windows, sixteen doors, and a giant hallway (about 30% of those had cream paint).

But we needed 4.5 gallons of white paint. Had we been able to predict that we’d have bought one of those five gallon buckets at the start, rather than making the multiple trips to the store we’ve been making. Live and learn, right?

The paint we’re using is Benjamin Moore’s Ultra Spec in Simply White (in a semi-gloss finish) based on a few recommendations for that type of paint from you guys. It’s No-VOC contractor-grade paint that’s more affordable than BM’s Natura paint that we usually use and so far we’re really happy with it. Instead of being over $50 per gallon, it’s just $36 through our local paint store (I’m sure it varies by location, but it should be in that range), which has certainly made buying five gallons of it a little less painful.

Oh and as for choosing the color, we brought home about ten swatches of white and just picked the one that looked the best when we taped it up next to all of the others (some were too yellow, some were too blue, but Simply White looked clear and crisp without feeling too warm or too cool). Of course it’ll look a whole lot better after we paint those yellowed walls and ceilings…

Our total budget for four rooms and four closets worth of trim/baseboards plus nine windows, sixteen doors, and a giant hallway has been:

  • Paint sprayer: $180
  • Primer, 2 gallons: $36 (on sale)
  • Paint, 5 gallons: $180 (we still have half a gallon leftover for a future project)
  • TOTAL: $396

It’s certainly more than we envisioned spending, but because we’re on a time crunch to get the new floors in before we move, we’re counting our lucky stars that painting so many things went as quickly as it did. And now that we own the paint sprayer it’ll probably will work out to around ten cents per use by the time we’re done painting this house (so. much. blue. trim.).

Next step is to rehang all of the doors (after we replace some of the old pitted brass hardware) and then we can get to laying those hardwoods. We contemplated getting some other painting done while the subfloor is still exposed – walls, ceilings, closet interiors – but we’re starting to feel that move date creep up on us (T minus 2 weeks!). We figure we can move in with unpainted walls and ceilings more easily than moving in without completed floors – and thankfully we’re no strangers to painting walls and ceilings with hardwoods that are already in place.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. How about you?


  1. says

    I started reading this with total empathy… I’ve painted about 27,000 miles of trim, doors, windows, baseboard, crown molding… and I have SWORN that I will NEVER buy another house with painted trim…

    But then I got to the part about the sprayer, and my head pretty much exploded. The photo of him “zipping” along the baseboard… was actually painful for me.

  2. Julie says

    What a difference!

    I wanted to come over and paint the cabinets in your laundry nook. It’s sort of like weeding — you see more to do with each item you complete!

  3. KayGray says

    What a difference!! And that paint sprayer looks awesome. What color are you going to do on the walls? A single color upstairs or different colors for different rooms?

    • says

      No idea yet! Probably a few different tones, but we’ll tackle that as we go. It typically takes us a few years to get all the rooms painted though :)


  4. says

    What a difference painting trim makes! I’m in the process of painting my house from the flat builder grade paint to something washable. Just don’t know what colors! My house is totally open plan so I want it to look cohesive. Gah!

    • Cara says

      I have a friend with an open plan that painted everything in the main house a silvery gray. I was surprised by the choice, but years later I see the brilliance. She’s changed accessories, furniture and even swapped her dining rooms and living rooms without having to repaint. And since it’s all one base color, she can play with accents while being assured its always cohesive. But, it feels finished and classy, unlike the renters beige my entire house had been painted by the previous owners. (I’m pretty sure that was on realtor advice. Bad advice.)

    • Veronica says

      I did the same thing, the main areas of our open floor plan house are a silvery gray color (painted almost 2 years ago) The rooms have changed and evolved, but the paint has never felt like it needed to go. It is a great neutral for us after living in apts with cream walls for 4 years we wanted another color on the walls of our first house. We are getting ready to paint the kitchen (FINALLY!) which is open to the “gray painted main area” and we are going with a pretty blue. IT will be nice to add that pop of color and it still doesn’t clash with the rest of our already painted house. Good Luck picking a color! I picked up about 7 paint strips, then from those chose three or four testers and paint big swatches all over the open area to figure what color worked best in the areas with different light. Took about a week (while we were doing other things around the house getting it ready for move in) but we are still in love with the color and we get tons of compliments on it.


    • Donita says

      Veronica, what color of gray did you use? I am planning to paint all the rooms in our 900 sq foot home, gray. I have several swatches taped to the wall now, but having a hard time picking one.

    • Amanda says

      Our house is very similar. We ended up using Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter and have not regretted the decision. It’s the perfect gray and a wonderful neutral.

  5. says

    That bag in the cup tip is awesome! Now I want to go buy a sprayer just so I can do that! Man so I wish we’d had one when we did the spindles and banisters. I still see a drip here and there and I’m just too lazy to sand and repaint but I know I’ll have to. I think that’s probably the best investment you guys could make at this point! Happy spraying!

  6. says

    What a difference!

    Thanks for the info on the sprayer. We’re looking into buying one and we’re debating on one that attaches to our air compressor or a “stand alone” model like you have.

    As much as I love color, it’s hard to wrong with white trim.

    • Courtney Madden says

      Just a suggestion, but I’ve been looking a lot into it too and I’ve heard that the ones that attach to an air compressor are WAY better and actually use less paint. I would love to go that route, but air compressors are expensive! It’s great that you already have one!

    • says

      Go with the air compressor models. My father in law has done furniture refinishing and paint contracting his whole life, and he’s firmly in the air compressor camp.

  7. says

    Great improvements!

    I’ve been working on making the most of what we have on hand to make a bike outfit for Susanna while the hub studies away in summer grad land.

    Next up will be a trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons and then the Bear Lake Monster Ride (for Scott…Susanna is a bit young still!).

  8. says

    It’s so exciting to watch your new house start to transform. Show me more! Show me more! I’m antsy to see all that you do, but I know it all takes time. I am really excited to see where the pieces from your current home will go to live in your new home and how you might choose to switch things up. Glad it will provide me some daily reading material for another several years!

  9. says

    You guys are inspiring. Just LOOKING at all the work you have to do in the new house makes me feel overwhelmed. I know you’re going to do it all and have that house looking AMAZING. I would love to see another post on staying motivated – I need to hang two curtain rods today and I can’t even get the motivation to do that!

    • says

      Our big tip for staying motivated is to do things a little at a time (ex: measure for where to hang the curtains and mark the wall one evening, then the next evening drill the holes and sink the anchors and hang the rod, then get the curtains ironed/hemmed and hang them another time). Breaking things down seems to make them more doable. And never work without a full belly and good tunes – those help a ton!


    • KathyG says

      This.Looks.Great! Good Work Guys! Nothing more motivating that instant gratification! ha

      And I agree, I am always asking people who seem highly motivated to me, and after they shrug and say *justdoit*, then it really comes down to doing just one thing, then doing one more thing, then one more. Just like you said, don’t overwhelm yourself with the big picture, just pick the first step and do it.

    • says

      Power washer for sure!!! It feels less scary and I-could-mess-this-up than being inside with a paint gun (which was a little scary at times)!


  10. Stephanie says

    Wow, it’s amazing the difference! About the windows, I’ve not personally used this product but what about the stuff you can completely cover the glass with (great description right?) that you then scrape off afterwards? Sort of like a masking fluid. The DIY’er from the show Rehab Addict seems to like that method and mentions it cleans the windows anyway when you scrape it away. Just a thought. . .

    On a side note, I couldn’t sleep this morning and I actually watched an info-mercial about the Kreg. As entertainment. Enough said. : )

    • Blake says

      I was going to suggest that product, too. I saw that show and she used it on all the exterior windows. It’s a gel that goes on with a roller and dries to a rubbery substance that peels off.

    • alisha says

      I was coming to leave the same comment! Never used it myself, but Nichole Curtis seems to love it on Rehab Addict! I’ve seen her mention it multiple times on multiple homes.

      The trim looks great! That door really DOES have a glossy awesome finish in that shot of the sunlight reflecting off it.

  11. Colleen says

    Paint makes such a huge difference so quickly! What prep work did you do to the surfaces? Any sanding?

    • says

      Thankfully all of the trim/windows and even the doors had a matte dry feeling, so since they weren’t glossy we knew good primer + paint would do the trick. If you have something super glossy (ex: polyurethaned wood trim) you definitely should sand a bit to get them down to that matte finish before spraying :)


  12. says

    Those paint sprayers look like so much fun! I might have to buy one for my husband for father’s day – I tend to buy him things that I would be more likely to use :)

    Our doors all have old pitted brass hardware too. We want to replace it all but hardware can be so pricey! Any recommendations?

    • says

      I like a site called (you can also google around for a coupon code on top of their already discounted prices). I’m hoping to score 10% off when we order soon! Will post all about it!


    • Alex the friendly Airhostess says

      Before replacing your old hardware, give this a try: fill a bucket with TSP (tri-sodium phosphate, the stuff you wash dirty walls with before painting) and warm water and let the TSP gently eat into the brass finish. Rinse them off and let them dry. You’ll wind up with a more ORB-ish finish. Then just a clear spray topcoat and you’re good to go.

      Much more budget friendly, much greener, but the nicest part is that you don’t have to try and get new hinges to hang straight, or the lock sets to click in, etc. Most of the old hardware is made of much nicer metal, it was drop forged or made of solid metals, not crappy cheap alloys like the stuff sold now.

      Hope this helps!

    • says

      Thanks Alex! Some of them actually don’t function (don’t turn, don’t lock) since they’re so corroded but if we can save a few we will do our best :)


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