Most commonly found on doors, windows, floors and ceilings, trim softens the transitions from one area to another, covers imperfections or gaps and creates a seamless look. Trim gives a room balance, character and proportion. It adds a decorative touch and dimension. Painting trim enhances a design style when you choose the right colours. 

What type of paint should I use on trim? Trim benefits from a gloss or semi-gloss finish. Glossy paints have a tight molecular structure making it difficult for dirt and debris to penetrate and easier to clean. This type of paint also helps the trim stand out from the flatter wall surfaces. 

Should I paint the walls and the trim the same colour? If you’re looking for a sophisticated look, the answer is yes! Using one colour allows the eye to take in the wall, from ceiling to floor, without any cut-off points. This creates a design flow that improves the look and feel of a room. Painting the walls, trim and ceiling all one colour allows the other pieces in your room to take center stage.

When should I paint the trim a different colour than the walls? If you need to break up soaring walls, try contrasting trim. It’ll make the room seem cozier.

When should the trim be lighter than the walls? If you have dark walls, light trim brightens the room and makes the wall colour pop. Using a lighter trim colour enhances historical or intricate trim. If your walls are light or muted, white trim makes the colour crisp and clean.

When should the trim be darker than the walls? Dark trim gives a room depth and frames views when used on window casings. It contrasts with soft colours (aqua, powder blues, greens, grays) adding to the design. Choose a hue several shades deeper than the colour of your walls or go for a big contrast by using dark brown or black. 

What colour should I paint contrasting trim? There are many choices for trim. It all depends on the look you wish to achieve. Black creates an interesting contrast. Dark grey promotes a sense of tranquility. Light taupe adds warmth. Greige hides the dust and is ideal for low-traffic rooms. White intensifies the wall colour. 

Should I paint my walls and trim white? If you want to add pops of colour through your furnishings, draperies and ornaments, then white on white is right for you. White walls with white trim give a modern, clean finish. You can bring contrasting textures, patterns and colours in without creating a cluttered or distracting design. 

What if I want to hide the trim? Sometimes a room is filled with ornate trim but you wish to create a more modern, clean look. Painting the walls and trim the same colour helps the trim recede, camouflaging the style of the trim. 

What if I want the trim to stand out? You can still stick to the same colour but use a different finish to make the trim pop. A different shine is often enough to give you the impact you desire. Matte walls with semi-gloss trim in the same colour look chic!

What if I want my room to feel larger? Painting the walls and trim the same colour makes a room feel larger. Your eye can’t mark an ending and perceives the space as sizable. Try painting your ceiling the same colour too. It’ll enhance the feeling of space. This is especially true for bedrooms and living rooms.

Can I use trim to bring drama to a room? If you’re looking for drama, try trim and walls in jewel tones (sapphire, ruby, emerald). They have a high level of colour saturation which makes them dynamic and eye-catching.

General tips regarding trim:

  • Trim colour should complement the wall paint.
  • Warm white pairs well with other warm hues (orange, red and neutrals).
  • A neutral white suits blues and greens.
  • White is a classic trim colour and never fails.
  • For a bold look, go for lighter walls and darker trim.
  • A semi-gloss finish lasts long and is easy to clean. It reflects light in the room, making it seem bright and airy.
  • Trim colour need not be the same as the walls, but needs to be in the same colour palette for a cohesive look.
  • Pure white trim is great in rooms with lots of natural light.
  • In rooms with limited natural light, use creamy whites with warm (yellow) undertones.
  • To draw the ceiling down, install picture-rail or chair-rail molding on the walls and paint the rail, and/or the wall area above it, a darker colour than the rest of the walls.
  • To make the ceiling rise, install crown molding around the perimeter of the ceiling and paint it a darker colour than the ceiling to draw the eye upward.
  • Paint trim the same colour as or a lighter shade than the wall colour to make the walls feel like they’re receding.
  • If you want a colonial-style design, try pairing off-white or cream walls with a contrasting trim (gray-blue, muted green, mustard yellow or barn red).
  • For rooms with high-quality wood trim, leave the trim and doors a natural colour to play up the beautiful texture of the wood and bring warmth.
  • Take the door trim right up to the ceiling, creating a sense of height.
  • Paint your trim first.

Trim has a dramatic effect on the way a room is perceived. It can give a room balance, definition and proportion. Trim highlights points of architectural interest and ornamentation and sets the tone and character. It can take the form of window and door casings, baseboards, wainscoting and paneling, pillars and mantels and crown, picture and chair-rail molding. Pay attention to your trim and you can enhance and complete the design style of your space.

Not sure what colour to paint the trim in your home? Need help making your rooms shine? Call the Calgary residential painting experts, Cal Res Coatings at (403) 917-0579. We’re a residential painting contractor that strives for quality, has an eye for detail and colour and will not rest until your job is done to your satisfaction. Request a free quote today.

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