How much does it cost to paint trim?
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Trim Painting Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Trim is not a requirement for building codes, but it creates a finished look on the interior and exterior of a home. It is used to finish seams and connections near doors, windows, and other breaks in the facade or on the walls of the home. Painting the trim enhances the colors of the wall while creating extra visual interest. Depending on the type of paint used, it may also make it more durable and long-lasting.
Since there are many variables with painting trim, the prices cover a wide range. The national average cost range is $1,000 to $3,000. Many homeowners spend about $1,500 for painting 500 linear feet of interior trim with oil-based paint in a 1,500 sq.ft. home, including prep work, sanding, and caulking. The lowest cost for the project is $500 for latex paint on 100 linear feet of interior trim without prep. Projects toward the higher end cost around $9,000 and include extensive prep work, oil-based paint, and 1,500 linear feet of intricate exterior trim that is challenging to reach.
Cost to Paint Trim
|Cost to Paint Trim on a House|
|National average cost||$1,500|
Interior vs Exterior Trim Painting Cost
Exterior trim painting is slightly different from interior painting. Inside a home, it includes crown molding, baseboards, casing, picture and chair rail molding, and wall frame molding. However, exterior trim painting can include the trim from windows, doors, shutters, dormers, gables, downspouts, fascia, eaves, and soffit. The cost of painting interior compared to exterior trim varies because some kinds are more common in one location or the other, rather than one form of painting being more expensive than the other on a base level. So, for instance, painting eaves outdoors is much more expensive than painting simple crown molding indoors. That price difference is not due to the location itself but to the type of trim. Other factors such as the material or the accessibility affect the cost per linear foot.
The cost to paint interior trim per linear foot ranges from $1 to $6. This includes both the materials and labor. The cost to paint exterior trim is also from $1 to $6. However, when painting difficult to reach areas, such as second floors, dormers, or soffits, this number may increase by $1 to $2 per linear foot. This accounts for the need to move up and down a ladder, refill a sprayer or tray, reposition a ladder, increase working hours, and risk a spill or fall.
|Location||Cost per Linear Foot (Labor Included)|
|Interior||$1 - $6|
|Exterior||$1 - $6|
Cost to Paint Trim per Linear Foot
The cost to paint the interior or exterior trim in a home is calculated in linear feet. This project is an excellent way to create a fresh and clean look inside a home, outside a home, or in both spaces at the same time. Typically, the total price includes materials, basic prep work, and labor. The total amount of linear feet of trim in a house depends on the size of the home. The cost to paint it ranges from $1 to $6 per linear foot for labor and materials:
|Length||Prices (Labor Included)|
|100 Linear Feet||$100 - $600|
|500 Linear Feet||$500 - $3,000|
|1,000 Linear Feet||$1,000 - $6,000|
|1,500 Linear Feet||$1,500 - $9,000|
Cost to Paint Trim by Material
The three common types of trim materials are aluminum, vinyl, and wood. Wood is the most standard type, but other types are also used, especially outdoors. Knowing what type of material you have is essential to determine costs properly. In addition to the common types, trim can also come in brick and fiber cement. Each type requires its own unique paint to create the right aesthetic and adhere to it.
|Material||Price per Linear Foot (Labor Included)|
|Wood||$1 - $6|
|Aluminum||$1 - $6|
|Fiber Cement||$2 - $6|
|Brick||$3 - $6|
|Vinyl||$3 - $6|
Paint Wood Trim
On an average project, the cost to paint wood trim is $1 to $6 per linear foot. Choosing the right sheen is likely the most important decision to make. The shinier it is, the more durable and easy-to-clean it will be. For wood, semi-gloss or satin works best. Another choice that will need to be made is whether to use acrylic latex or oil-based paint. Oil-based is more durable and lasts longer. Acrylic latex handles the elements well and dries faster. In general, oil-based will be used on the interior, and acrylic latex will be used on exterior elements.
Paint Aluminum Trim
Painting aluminum trim has a similar cost to wood at $1 to $6 per linear foot. It also uses the same acrylic latex paint to get the best results. When painting this material, it is recommended to use acrylic latex because it has great adhesion to metal, is resistant to flaking, cracking, and peeling, and is simple to wash. Both the primer and paint being used on aluminum should be formulated for use on metal. While aluminum can be used on the exterior or interior, it is more commonly used outdoors.
Paint Fiber Cement Trim
This material is slightly more expensive to paint than wood or aluminum at $2 to $6 for each linear foot. Acrylic or acrylic latex paints are the best choices for fiber cement. This material is long-lasting and durable. In most cases, it is used for the house exterior, although some versions can be used in the interior of the space. Unlike some exterior materials, fiber cement should be primed with latex primer, which can be more expensive than other types of primer.
Paint Brick Trim
Painting brick trim can be done for $3 to $6 per linear foot. This type can be found on the interior and exterior, but it’s often more common on the exterior. Many people choose to paint it to update the appearance of the inside or outside of the home. It can create better curb appeal and even increase the resale value of the home. The favored paint is acrylic latex specifically made for home exteriors. Brick can be more expensive to paint because it requires more extensive prep. It needs to be cleaned before caulk is added to all cracks. A period of 24 hours is needed for drying before paint is applied.
Paint Vinyl Trim
Like painting brick trim, the cost of adding paint to vinyl ranges from $3 to $6 per linear foot. Vinyl is a material that expands over its lifetime, so only certain types of paint should be used. The best options are latex or acrylic with a fungicide ingredient since vinyl often falls prey to fungus and mold. Vinyl is a fragile material, so it may require additional prep compared to other types. Vinyl is most commonly used in the exterior but is also sometimes used indoors.
Cost to Paint Exterior Trim by Type
The cost to paint exterior trim ranges from $1 to $6, depending on what type is being refreshed. This project can encompass many other different ones since it covers a wide variety of items both inside and outside of a home. For instance, a basic exterior trim project might involve painting the window and door trim along with the shutters. Other items that may be painted include the dormers, gables, downspouts, soffit and fascia, and eaves of the home.
|Type||Cost per Linear Foot (Labor Included)|
|Window||$1 - $4|
|Door||$1 - $4|
|Dormers||$3 - $5|
|Gables||$5 - $6|
|Downspouts||$5 - $6|
|Fascia and Soffit||$5 - $6|
|Eaves||$5 - $6|
Paint Exterior Window Trim
The average cost to paint exterior trims is $1 to $4 per linear foot. The cost varies depending on the window’s location, shape, and size. A second or third-floor window tends to cost more to paint than a first-floor window. In addition, an interior window with an elaborate casing will cost more than a basic trim. In most cases, a glossy finish is the best choice. However, the type of paint depends on the material.
Paint Door Trim
Painting door trim ranges from $1 to $4 per linear foot. The price ranges considerably due to the size of the door, such as a double door. Also, the size and intricacies impact the price. You may also want to have the door painted to match the trim. The average cost to paint a door is $275. Similar to window trim, a glossy finish is usually the best option for door trim. Choose the type of paint based on the door material.
Painting the dormers on a home will cost about $3 to $5 per linear foot. The price of dormers can be a bit more expensive because accessing them is more complicated. Dormers extend from the side of a roof and are often used to install specific types of windows. The dormer extends higher vertically than the pitched roof plane. Dormers add a unique aesthetic to the home but are constantly in the elements. Acrylic latex paint is recommended for dormers to offer the best durability and protection from rain, snow, and sunshine.
Per linear foot, painting gables range from $5 to $6 but vary based on the specific project. The gable end of the home can be challenging to access but needs to be repainted with other exterior trim to create a uniform appearance. The difficult access plays into why the price is higher than some forms of exterior trim. In almost all cases, an extension ladder will be needed to access gables. This is especially the case with multi-story homes. As with dormers, the gables of a home are constantly in contact with sunshine, rain, and other weather. This makes acrylic latex the best option for painting gables.
Downspouts are a special type of trim. The cost to paint them ranges from $5 to $6 per linear foot. If the downspouts are made of aluminum, which is common, acrylic paint is the best choice for the job. In most cases, at least two coats will be required. When choosing the finish, a semi-gloss or satin finish is recommended. Before primer or paint is applied to the downspouts, the metal should be clean and smooth for proper application. Like dormers and gables, it can be more challenging to access downspouts, making the price of the project slightly higher.
Paint Soffit and Fascia
The average cost to paint soffit or fascia ranges from $5 to $6 per linear foot. Doing it involves taping off the areas that are not to be painted and other areas such as vegetation covered by drop clothes. A ladder or paint scaffold is used to reach the hard-to-reach area. A paintbrush, sprayer, or brush is used for this kind of project. Painting fascia typically involves the use of a ladder. Usually, it is carried out by a professional with a paint roller, brush, or sprayer. The best type of paint for use on fascia and soffit is acrylic latex. Oil dries more slowly and can cause the introduction of mold.
The average cost to paint eaves on a home is $5 to $6 per linear foot. A painter undertakes the job of painting eaves in much the same fashion as the fascia. The area will be taped off then a roller, brush, or sprayer will be used. A ladder is also implemented to access the eaves, traditionally a large distance from the ground. Since eaves are on the exterior of the home, the right paint will be a traditional acrylic or latex that can handle the weather and remain in good shape for many years.
Cost to Paint Interior Trim by Type
Painting interior trim usually averages about the same price as painting exterior trim, but certain areas might require greater intricacy or time, increasing the cost per linear foot. The type of material can also dictate whether the cost is higher or lower. Also, the more intricate it is, the more expensive the project will be.
|Type||Cost per Linear Foot (Labor Included)|
|Crown Molding||$1 - $4|
|Baseboard||$1 - $4|
|Casing||$1 - $4|
|Picture Rail Molding||$1 - $6|
|Chair Rail Molding||$1 - $6|
|Wall Frame Molding||$1 - $6|
Paint Crown Molding
The average cost to paint crown molding per linear foot is $1 to $4. When doing it, if the ceiling is high, such as 10 to 12 feet, the cost will probably be higher. For this kind of project, high-gloss and semi-gloss are recommended as they create a better shine. Acrylic or latex will be the top choice for interior crown molding in a home.
Paint a Baseboard
The cost to paint crown molding per linear foot ranges from $1 to $4. Baseboard involves a painter getting down low on their hands and knees to reach some areas. Similar to crown molding, baseboards look best when using a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint. A water-based acrylic paint is the standard choice for refreshing the paint on baseboards throughout a home.
Paint Door Casing
Door casing prices range from $1 to $4 per linear foot depending on the intricacies of the casing, if it is a single or double door, and the height of the door. The door casing or frame helps showcase your door and works well with a glossy sheen that comes from semi-gloss or high-gloss latex paint. However, if the door opens to the outside, make sure it is designated for exterior use and made for use on trim, such as door casings.
Picture Rail Molding
On average, the cost to paint picture rail molding ranges from $1 to $6 per linear foot. It ranges a bit higher than some other types because it may be more intricate. A picture rail is similar to a chair rail, but it is higher off the ground. Instead of being used in tandem with chairs, it will hold items like photos and hooks. As with other items, a high-gloss or semi-gloss creates the best aesthetic for the molding. Since the picture rail molding is made of wood, a water-based acrylic paint is the best option for the project.
Chair Rail Molding
Painting the typical chair rail molding inside a home will cost about $1 to $6 per linear foot. This includes the labor, supplies, and other costs related to painting. If old paint needs to be removed, this may or may not incur an additional charge. As for the type, consider a high-gloss eggshell latex paint. This works well with chair rails that have not experienced much damage in the past. The price to paint chair rail is slightly higher than some other types because it has more detail.
Wall Frame Molding
A wall frame molding paint project ranges in price from $1 to $6 per linear foot. It costs more than crown molding or door casing because it involves more detail and takes more time. This design element fits in traditional and contemporary homes. The frames are a decorative way to break up the wall and add visual appeal. Adding a distinct paint color to the wall frame molding enhances the space. The most common type of paint used is semi-gloss acrylic paint.
Labor Cost to Paint Trim
A professional painter has the skill, knowledge, and equipment to provide a truly finished look to any paint job. A single painter charges around $50 per hour, depending on the area. Metropolitan areas tend to be more expensive than rural regions. Most painters charge using a straight linear foot fee for this kind of project, averaging $1 to $6 per linear foot, including labor and materials, so it is important to get a by-the-job price.
Labor costs tend to be higher for multi-story homes for several reasons. These homes require the use of extension ladders. In some cases, lifts or scaffolding may be needed. The prep work that needs to be done may also be more extensive. Expect the cost to be on the higher end per painter if the professional needs to work on more than a single story.
Cost to Stain Trim
The cost to stain trim will range from $2 to $5 per linear foot and is a common alternative to painting inside or outside of a home. On the lower end of the scale, you can expect the painter to use an oil-based, semi-transparent stain with a sealant. The average homeowner will pay in the middle of the scale for prep, including cleaning, scraping, sanding, staining, and adding a clear coat. If large amounts of trim in hard-to-access areas are being stained, the price may be higher.
Exterior and interior trim prep work is the same and does not usually cost extra for a single story. When there is more than one story, the prep work may take longer, and its cost would be included in the final project cost. The painter will check for any cracks or splits. If there are any blemishes, they use a wood filler to smooth out the cracks prior to painting. They will caulk gaps between the trim and the wall to create a smooth transition after painting. Next, they will scrape or sand away any existing paint that might show flaking to create a smooth surface.
The trim will be taped off using tape, so the paint doesn’t end up on the wall. The use of a primer ensures that past paint or the wood grain does not bleed through the newly painted surface. Next, the professional will paint the surface. In most cases, the painter will need to apply two coats to create a blemish-free surface.
Primer for Trim
Primer creates a smooth surface, so the paint adheres well. It helps prevent the old blemishes or imperfections from showing through the new coat. An oil-based primer is used with oil-based paint and is ideal for unfinished or bare wood because it seals in the wood’s pores prior to painting and stops wood tannins from bleeding through. Latex primers work best when used with latex paint. They are fast drying and prevent blemishes from appearing beneath the paint. Shellac primers are great when used with either oil or latex-based paint. They are great for blocking out stains or other imperfections that were already there before painting. Adhesive primer is a coating that is typically used on challenging exterior materials, such as glazed brick or metal.
|Primer Type||Interior Costs (Materials Only)||Exterior Costs (Materials Only)|
|Adhesive||N/A||$15 - $60|
|Latex||$15 - $60||$20 - $80|
|Oil||$25 - $70||$20 - $50|
|Shellac||$30 - $80||$20 - $60|
Trim Paint Cost by Type
You have a few options when it comes to choosing paint for interior or exterior trim. Some types are better suited for the interior, and others are for the exterior. In high traffic areas, oil-based paint often holds up better. However, most people appreciate the appearance and finish of a latex-based paint. Acrylic latex lasts well when used for exterior applications.
Acrylic latex works well on glossy trim and costs between $15 and $50 per gallon. It comes in several finishes, has no or few VOCs (volatile organic compounds which can irritate the nose, eyes, and throat), and can be cleaned using soap and water. It’s often used for exterior trim since it dries in two hours or so. However, it can experience chipping over time and has a texture that is not entirely smooth that may not be suitable for wet climates.
Water-based paint is priced between $15 and $50 for each gallon. It dries fast, is found in many colors, doesn’t yellow, and is known for being environmentally friendly. It is versatile for use on exterior and interior. It typically provides better coverage than other types with fewer coats.
Oil-based ranges in price from $20 to $70 per gallon. It has the smoothest texture but takes the longest to dry. The extra drying time can be useful if mistakes are made during the process. However, it has more VOCs, often costs more, and can only be cleaned up with turpentine or mineral spirits. It also can fade, yellow, or crack.
Chalk paint is a less usual option that is preferred indoors, unless you live in a temperate climate. They add depth and texture to the trim. It ranges between $80 and $160 in cost.
|Type||Interior Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)||Exterior Cost for Gallon (Materials Only)|
|Acrylic Latex||$15 - $50||$20 - $50|
|Water-Based||$15 - $50||$20 - $50|
|Oil-Based||$20 - $60||$20 - $70|
|Chalk||$80 - $160||$80 - $160|
Trim Paint Finishes
You can choose from several finishes when picking paint. Each one has its positives. In many cases, it centers around personal taste. Some people simply like the look of high gloss or flat paint. The available finishes include flat/matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.
Flat paint ranges from $10 to $70 per gallon for interior and from $15 to $40 for exterior. It is a popular option for those who want to avoid a shiny surface. It hides flaws in older homes but may experience mildew and fading problems. A flat finish is more commonly used on walls than for trim, but those who appreciate the matte look can use this sort of paint.
With eggshell paint, the average price is somewhere between $11 and $60 per gallon for interior and from $30 to $50 for exterior. It is one of the most popular exterior paints since it falls between fully matte and glossy finishes. It is not overly shiny and is not dull, so many people appreciate the middle ground. It has great durability and applies evenly without creating spray marks or brush strokes.
Satin paint will typically cost $12 to $60 per gallon for interior and from $30 to $50 for exterior. Satin is similar to eggshell in that it’s a flexible choice that will last. It resists peeling, mildew, and mold. It may have a UV protectant that makes it a great outdoor choice in warm climates. However, imperfections can be amplified when using this type of finish.
You can expect to pay from $12 to $70 per gallon for interior and $40 to $60 for exterior for semi-gloss paint. It’s most often used in areas that need regular cleaning, including trim, gutters, railings, doors, shutters, and window frames. It’s also used on the exterior but will not cover up chips, cracks, and some finishes.
The last is gloss or high-gloss, priced at $17 to $80 per gallon for interior and from $50 to $70 for exterior. This is a popular finish ideal for trim since it highlights details around the home. However, it is the most adept at making imperfections obvious, so it should not be used on a surface with several scratches, cracks, or other issues.
|Type||Interior Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)||Exterior Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)|
|Flat||$10 - $70||$15 - $40|
|Eggshell||$11 - $60||$30 - $50|
|Satin||$12 - $60||$30 - $50|
|Semi-Gloss||$12 - $70||$40 - $60|
|High-Gloss||$17 - $80||$50 - $70|
How Much Trim Paint Do I Need?
Generally, trim is measured in linear feet. However, to figure out the amount of paint you need to buy, it is necessary to know and measure the width and get the square footage. To do so, you will have to multiply the length by the width. This is the most accurate way of measuring trim when calculating the gallons of paint that you will need. The gallons needed for this type of project will vary based on the size of the trim and the number of pieces. The average gallon of paint covers about 400 sq.ft. of trim. However, this is only the case if you are applying a single coat. Most people apply two or three coats. In that case, you need two to three times the amount of paint. The table below provides an idea of how much paint is needed for a project based on using two coats of paint.
|Square Footage||Gallons of Paint Needed|
|600 sq.ft.||1 ½|
|1,000 sq.ft.||2 ½|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
The average cost of window caulking runs about $75 to $125. You’ll need to have the windows caulked before painting because the old caulk is scraped and removed before adding a fresh coat of paint. Caulking is used for windows and doors, cracks in concrete, and joints in drywall and wood. Sealing the window helps keep out pests, outdoor air, and moisture.
Lead Paint Test and Removal in Pre-1978 Homes
Lead paint removal in a 1500 sq.ft. house averages $8,000 to $15,000. Older homes often have lead paint, which must go through lead abatement prior to painting the trim in the home. Any home constructed before 1978 could have this type of paint on the interior, exterior, or both. Lead is a toxic metal that can create health issues if it or the dust containing it is inhaled. The EPA recommends that lead tests be done by a certified lead risk assessor or certified lead inspector. Removing the hazards of lead requires an abatement process that involves either sealing and enclosing the lead paint or removing it and replacing it with non-hazardous paints. The average cost for removal is $8,000 to $15,000.
If you decide to have the exterior of your home’s siding painted, the cost runs from $2,500 to $7,000. Many people choose to add paint to their siding to give it a better aesthetic. It’s a process often done when siding has started to fade due to the sun’s rays. Rather than replacing the siding, which can be expensive, a new coat of paint can offer visual appeal.
Paint Trim and Doors
Painting trim and doors are two projects that usually come together. Many homeowners decide to add the cost to paint the door to their trim project for a more complete and fresher look. The cost to paint trim and an exterior door ranges between $160 and $400, while the cost to paint trim and an interior door is usually around $70 to $200.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits. Depending on where you live, you might need a permit to paint the exterior of your home. There is no permit required for painting the interior house trim. Permits average $225 to $500 depending on location and scope.
- Travel fees. Depending on where you live and how far your home is from their location, your painter may charge you a travel fee. This can be up to $50 in some instances, depending on time and distance.
- DIY. Painting a home’s trim can be a DIY project, but it is not safe for everyone. You need to prep the area before painting and then take great care while painting the surfaces to give a professional appearance when the paint dries. Painting exterior trim requires additional tools, such as a ladder. It also leaves you vulnerable to accidents and injuries. In many cases, the pricing for the paint job is less than that of the paint, primer, tools, and accessories needed to do it on a DIY basis.
- Do you paint walls or trim first?
Experts typically recommend painting the trim before the walls or ceilings. It’s faster and easier to tape off the trim than the entire wall. Any excess paint that makes it onto the walls in the process will be covered up when painting the walls.
- How do you prepare trim for painting?
Any old paint should be sanded smooth or peeled away. Remove old caulking. Fill in any gaps using new caulking. Imperfections or cracks in the wood should be filled using wood putty. Use a primer to prevent tannins from bleeding through unfinished wood or other imperfections and blemishes from marring the paint.
- What is the best paint finish for trim?
The most common finishes for trim are eggshell, semi-gloss, and satin. If it has cracks or imperfections, you will need to choose less shiny options, such as eggshell or satin. Semi-gloss will highlight those imperfections much more.
- What paint do you use for baseboards?
Some paint will be labeled specifically for trim, but this is not always the case. Trim paint for baseboards is interior paint in high-gloss, gloss, semi-gloss, or satin. The most common type of paint for baseboards is oil-based or acrylic latex.
- What is the trim of a house?
The trim on the exterior of the house includes material around the doors and windows, the fascia board at the lower end of the roof, and the soffits under the roof. Interior trim is the millwork or molding that frames the floors, windows, walls, doors, and even ceilings in the home.
- Can you use exterior paint on interior trim?
Technically, it’s possible to use exterior paint on interior trim, but it’s not recommended. Interior paint is designed to be scratch resistant and washable. Exterior paint is made to stand up to rain, sun, snow, heat, and cold temperatures. Each is designed for a specific function and will do the best job in that environment.
- Should you paint trim before installing?
Painting the trim before installation is considered a good idea. It’s a quick and simple process that makes the paint time much more reasonable. The process typically involves placing the trim on sawhorses over a drop cloth.
- How many coats of paint on trim?
In most cases, only one coat of primer will be needed. Two coats of paint are usually sufficient, but three coats may be required to get the desired effect in some situations. One coat is ideal for freshening up, while two coats provide better coverage. Three coats are typically used when you are covering a dark paint with a lighter shade.
- How do you calculate trim for painting?
Baseboard, crown molding, windows, and doors are often painted separately from walls or ceilings. To calculate the amount of trim that needs to be painted, add up the length. Next, add up the width of all trim that needs to be painted. Multiply these two numbers together to get the number of square feet that will be painted. For linear feet, divide the square feet by 12 and divide by the width of the trim.
- How much does it cost to paint stained trim?
Painting stained trim typically costs $1 per linear foot, but the price can go up to $2.50 per linear foot when using expensive paint or when additional prep work is required. When painting 250 feet of stained trim, the cost ranges from $255 to $625.
- Should I paint my wood trim?
Yes, you can paint your wood trim but be sure to use a primer to prevent the wood’s tannins from bleeding through the paint. Make sure to move furniture away from the trim and use drop cloths, painter’s tape, or masking tape to protect the floor. Prepare the trim by cleaning it, sanding it to a scuff surface, and wiping away the dust. Cracks can be filled with spackle, and caulk will fill gaps between the wall and trim. Only one to two coatsare typically required. Acrylic-latex paint is best for interior spaces, while latex should be used on the exterior.
- How long does it take to paint trim?
It will take 30 to 60 minutes to paint 15 linear feet of trim. The average project has 500 linear feet, requiring two to four days to paint it.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
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