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. mribaro says

    I’m wondering if frogtaping paper onto the glass squares of the windows and then spraying would take less or more time than painting 4 coats by hand and then scraping off the paint from the glass…

    • says

      We just worried the tape would overlap the window a smidge and we’d peel it off and have slices of blue or mauve staring at us, so we thought painting over the trim and then scraping would be a nice way to get a clean all-white look without anything peeking out around the edges :)


  2. Katy says

    What is your plan for laying the floors? Since you didn’t pull up the base trim, will you run quarter round along all the trim once the hardwood is down?

  3. Lindsey says

    We’re really pinching our pennies, and now looking at how fast your paint sprayer is working for ya, I’m trying so hard to resist the temptation to buy one…we’ll be doing all the trim and walls in our house as well…do you think it would be worth it?

    • says

      I really think it’s much faster and the finish is awesome! I wouldn’t use it for walls though, just for trim, doors, furniture, cabinets, and wainscoting (I’d still roll large surfaces like walls and ceilings). Hope it helps!


  4. Shannon says

    Can’t wait to read a more in depth post about using the paint sprayer! We are in the midst of painting over all of the bright orangey stained trim in our house and seeing this post has convinced me to purchase a sprayer!

  5. says

    Love the difference it has already made!

    When you move downstairs, you should video the spraying, speed it up and set it to crazy music with some silly dancing in the mix! ;)

  6. Dave says

    I would repaint as many ceilings as possible before doing the floors. Walls I agree are easy to handle after the floors are finished.

    • says

      Sadly we’re out of time! With our moving day in 1.5 weeks, we just can’t stand the thought of moving into the house without the floors done, so we’d rather do ceilings later than move in with half of the house unfloored :)


    • JMK says

      I’d have to agree Dave. Since the flooring is prefinished there’ll be no sanding or waiting for finishes to dry. Edging and then rolling ceilings over brand new floors seems like a risky plan. I’d do all the ceilings first, then start with the floors in the masterbedroom and Clara’s room so those are ready for furniture if time runs out. If necessary the guest room stuff can be stored in the “nursery” which sounds like it will be sitting empty for now. Then if necessary, after you move in lay the guest room floor, then move everything in there and lastly do the floor in the empty room.
      I know time is a consideration, but choosing to paint above new floors sounds like a plan of last resort. Lots of tarps to cover the floors and baseboards from drips, spills and ladder feet. Hope it all works out and I’ve worried in vain!

    • says

      We’ll just have to see how it goes I think! Haha! Thankfully we’ve painted two houses worth of ceilings while the flooring was in so I think we’ll hopefully be ok :)


  7. Steph Nelson says

    That blue trim looks like it was in really good condition. Maybe it was sprayed on as well?

    It is amazing how much that white paint opens up and makes the windows look so much bigger!! The rooms themselves look bigger too now. I envision some sort of silver gray on those hallway walls…:)

    • says

      I wondered that about the trim too! It definitely doesn’t have drips and looks original (like they sprayed it 32 years ago and just left it as-is since then).


  8. says

    It’s amazing what a difference a little (or a ton, in your case!) paint can make. I am taking advantage of the long Memorial day weekend to repaint our great room/kitchen. Painting seems to be the catalyst in our home though. Once that’s done I can build gallery shelves, put up cat shelves, rearrange the artwork, move the furniture around (and finally get rid of some of the “stand-in” pieces), as well as a hundred other little things. Being in the middle of things has been fun but I’m eager for some actual results!

  9. Andrea says

    You guys, you are making so much progress already! Hard work pays off and it’s looking great! Can’t wait to see all your future progress in this house!

    The paint on the windows — I painted a mirror frame and got some paint on the mirror itself which I started scraping off. Until I remembered reading something about rubbing alcohol and paint. I sprayed some on and the paint wiped RIGHT off. It was magical! I felt silly for scraping at it as long as I did, but I am quite happy to have that trick in my back pocket now! Maybe you can use it too!

  10. says

    Good call on the Graco. Handyman (the mag) did a recent write-up on sprayers, and they gave good reviews on the Graco.

    Did you notice any difference in spray-coverage between primer and paint? I wondered if John had to adjust his technique between the two to avoid drips or if it all covered more or less the same.

    • says

      Wahooo! That’s awesome about the good reviews! As for a spray-coverage, it seemed the same. Only difference we noticed was that the primer was cooler in tone (blue-white) and the paint was white-white.


    • says

      Because that creates drips and applies too much paint. So you have to wait for it to dry and just get it with the next coat. Then it looks perfecto!


  11. says

    Another alternative is to paper and tape the window panes; then you can spray them to your heart’s content. It always seems with painting you either have to prep a ton before, or clean up a ton after by scraping. Pick your poison, I guess!

    Personally, I’m a prepper. By the time the project is done, I don’t have the energy to clean up!

  12. Lindsay says

    Would you feel comfortable using the paint sprayer in a room where you definitely don’t want to get it on the floors/fixtures? Also, if you’re doing a glossy paint on the trim, what about the part of the wall that gets overspray? Will you have to prime over that so the glossy sheen doesn’t show through the flat wall paint once you paint it?

    I ask, because I am trying to muster the strength to repaint the trim in our house, which was originally painted with OIL paint (sigh). Crown molding, baseboards, doors, windows AND plantation shutters — all in a drab off-white oil paint — and I want it to be crisp white. I could cry just thinking about all the work, and am wondering if a paint sprayer could help. Otherwise I may live with the off-white. Or move. Probably move. :)

    Congrats on all your progress!

    • says

      Katie Bower has taped things off and used a sprayer in a room with finished floors and fixtures so it does seem to work but it takes a lot of prep work (and admittedly since we’re so new at it, we’re be nervous I think). As for the overspray, we won’t have to prime (we have gotten semi-gloss paint around trim and painted over it with eggshell in many rooms and there’s no glossiness that comes through if you use good quality paint like BM). Hope it helps!


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