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

    What a time saver! Definitely the smart move buying the sprayer. I have an HVLP gun (of course I do), which I used to spray paint our wainscoting and cabinets, but it doesn’t put out nearly as much paint as what you have. Those type of sprayers are designed for latex too, which makes it ideal for what you’re doing. The overspray doesn’t look too bad either.

    Resisting the urge to buy one myself… must. stay. strong.

    • says

      Oh yeah it’s awesome, there’s some overspray but not too bad. And the “getting two coats with one spray” thing is awesome as well as not having to water down our paint.


  2. Alyssa says

    It’s looking great guys!! That wood floor next to that fresh white trim is going to look amazing, I just know it!!

  3. Sarah says

    I really wish it was against the law to paint trim anything but white. It always looks so fresh and crisp!

  4. Lisa E says

    Such a huge difference already! You were smart to buy that sprayer for sure. I’m sure it’s tempting to do more painting but when do you guys have time for packing with that oh-too-close looming deadline?!!!

    • mribaro says

      Have you considered bringing a box or two of rarely or out-of-season things with you each time you go to your new house and just leave it in the storage room? It might save up some time the last few days of moving (or it might not, not sure).

    • says

      Oh yes, we’d love to start doing that! We keep running out of the door in a panic (dropping Clara off at school and rushing over to the new house for an hour and then going back to get her) so we’d love to have time to toss things into the car and make a few trips with out of season stuff!


    • Hanna says

      I think I just felt a little surge of panic on your behalf. :D You can do it! I remember this from when we bought our house – floors first, then packing, then moving then… relaxing? You guys are doing awesome!

    • Lisa E says

      Not packed a thing? Yikes! Wish I lived close so I can help you. Seriously, maybe you can get a packing party or something going on. Or maybe a painting party with trusted family members while you pack? Thankfully we had a few months where we could move stuff into our new home while we painted every room. However, we didn’t have a small child to worry about. So every single time we went to the new house we went with no less than a carload. Our new house had sat vacant for a year so there were lots of cobwebs and dust. I enlisted help from two groups of girlfriends. One at the new house to clean the dust and cobwebs before we moved in, then another at the old house to clean up for the new tenants, since we rented it out. I don’t know how you feel about enlisting help, but with such a close deadline, I hope you do so. Cheering you on from afar!

    • says

      Oh yes, John’s sweet family has offered up some carpooling so we can get some smaller things over there before the moving truck next Saturday, and thankfully I’ve wiped down a lot of stuff at the new house since every time we go over there I try to tackle one area (the fridge, the pantry, under the sink, etc). Slowly but surely…


  5. andrea says

    It’s already looking waaaaaaaay better with the new trim color -but I have to admit, the hallway seems so cavernous! Is it just tricky to photograph, or is it as dark as it looks?

    I’m excited to see what you do to brighten it up.

    • says

      I think it’s my terrible phone pics. I think once we paint everything and I take proper pics with the good camera it’ll be more true to life. It’s a nice little hallway and we love that it has that bend in it so it’s not like a long alley. It makes it more interesting I think :)


  6. says

    So smart to use the sprayer! I can definitely relate to painting all that trim. I have painted the kitchen cupboards, window trims, baseboards, and doors throughout our house. Only I had to use a brush. Took a l-o-n-g time.
    Way to knock that project out!

  7. says

    I am exhausted reading that post. Reminds me of our 1200 sq ft flooring project that my husband completed the week of our wedding. My husband thought he could get it all done in two weekends…. seven weeks later we were finished. So much work. Phew. So so tired. Good luck on your floors.:)

  8. Danielle says

    You have officially sold me on a paint sprayer…those doors look fantastic! Which is more awesome – paint sprayer or nail gun??

    • says

      This is our order: power washer (first!), nail gun, and then paint sprayer. But probably because we’re still getting our bearings (there’s still something scary about being in your house spraying paint everywhere, haha!).


  9. Amy says

    Do you ever watch Rehab Addict on DIY? She always uses this coating on windows that you paint right on the glass, then she sprays the panes with paint. The coating peels right off so there’s little scraping. It’s pretty cool and it looks like it works pretty well. Not sure of the name, but I’m sure you can find it on Google.

    • Jason says

      Yes Youngsters, please do something other than plan to scrape later – I did that on the few windows and doors that weren’t replaced in my house. I remember telling my neighbor – oh no need to tape – you scrape it off later with a razor.

      I found out later – it’s very difficult to scrape and when you have primer involved especially and the razor can leave scratches – I’ve learned the taping time is worth it. And I didn’t have the 12 lite windows either, so I know that is more scraping – ugh. I hope you find it goes better and my situation was not normal.

      If you try the magic coating – I’m sure you’ll tell us how it works!

    • says

      Will tell you all about it! We’d love to try that for downstairs since we’ve already painted all the windows upstairs (now just to scrape them- although others have said rubbing alcohol or a magic eraser can remove paint a lot more easily).


    • Emily R says

      Jason – i’ve primed and painted (with Oil!) and scraped, and while it can be slow, I never found it to be terribly difficult to do. You just need to make sure you have a fresh blade and change them often. I think it’s so much easier than taping, or applying a coat of something to the panes. Just my two cents!

    • Kate says

      I actually learned recently that window manufacturers recommend you actually tape and lap-paint 1/16″ onto the glass. This seals the glazing compound and provides a moisture stop. This is recommended on both the interior and exterior of the window.

  10. Char says

    GUSH! I love white trim. With new floors and fresh paint, that upstairs is going to look like a brand new place. Amazing!

  11. says

    Painting trim and doors and windows is suuuuuch a relief, isn’t it? I love that crisp look, and in an old house it’s like giving everything a rinse off. It’s all clean and new again.

    Okay, so… TELL ME that pile of hardware isn’t begging you for some ORB??

    • says

      We thought about that but there’s so much of it and many of the knobs are actually rusted and pitted (even with spray they’ll look bedraggled) so instead of spending the time and money on a band-aid we’d love to get new knobs. If they were in better shape we would have sprayed again since they held up well in our current house though!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *