DIY IT: Update Outdated Trim

From 1998 to 2018

One of the first things I noticed in our home was the dated woodwork. We love a lot of things about the house but knew we would have our work cut out for us to bring out of the 90s. After all, it wasn’t the 90s without sponge painted walls, brass fixtures, and of course… orange oak.

Many of our projects have seemed pretty doable. When it came to replacing the trim, though, I was nervous. I wanted it to look great but I knew we couldn’t afford to hire a professional. I’m pleased to say it was not as daunting as my anticipatory anxiety led me to believe!

If you’re also desperate to rid yourself of the worn trim in your home, I want to encourage you that it is doable! With some time and elbow grease you can bring your home from past to present in a weekend or two.

Though we did replace it throughout the home, in this post I’ll talk specifically about replacing it around a window. Here’s how:

What we used:


– Pittsburgh Paramount Paint

This stuff is wonderful. It’s a high quality, durable paint that we’ve used throughout our home. It’s a bit spendy (about $40/gallon) but well worth it. It goes a long way, too. You can probably get by with 1 or 2 gallons depending on the size of your home.
**Note: The image is of flat paint but we actually used semi-gloss for our trimwork

– Paint tray and liners

– Paint roller

We prefer the mini foam rollers for their ultra smooth finish. They’re also small enough to maneuver around tight areas, such as your window frame. paint roller

**Tip: We also used this paint additive to provide an ultra smooth, professional appearance:

paint additive

– Small detail brush

– Pieces of trim

I know, this one is obvious. You’ll need to plan ahead and shop around for what you want. We used flat boards for the “craftsman” look. We purchased them from Menards (my very favorite store) but you should be able to find lots of options at your preferred home improvement store. If you’re not sure what you want, try looking around online for design inspiration.

– Fine grit sand paper

– Miter saw

– Level

– Measuring Tape

– Nail gun and finish nails

– Caulking (white and paintable is ideal)

– Painter’s tape

– Wood filler

We like this Elmer’s color change filler. It starts out pink and dries to white. I also like that it’s water soluble.



Remove your old trim

Using a sturdy paint scraper, carefully slide it behind a piece of trim and begin to gently pry the board away from the wall. As it starts to come loose you’ll notice where the nails are; work near those to pull them away from the wall until the board is free.

Prepare new trim

First, look over your new boards for any imperfections that might need to be filled and/or sanded down. Next you’ll need to paint the new trim. We used true white but you can have fun with the color- there are lots of “whites” to pick from!


You’ll need two coats to ensure smooth coverage.

In this gif I’m applying the first coat using shorter strokes; I’m not concerned about a smooth finish just yet.

It’s important to allow the first coat to fully dry for best results. Don’t forget to paint the sides and ends just in case they are visible after installation.



Above: You can see the top board is not yet painted. You can also see the smooth “air brushed” appearance made by the foam roller (so much better than a paintbrush!) On the final coat I used one long continuous stroke to avoid any roller marks.

After the paint had dried, we moved on to the measuring and cutting. In hindsight I think we should have painted and cut afterward, as the cut edges sometimes needed to be painted if they would be visible in the final project. It would have saved a step to cut first, then paint.

The style we chose would not require any angled corners which made for simple measuring and cutting. We were inspired by this post from the DIY Mommy. (Her post is very detailed and helpful! Be sure to check it out!) We opted to leave an extra 2 inches extending out from either side of the top board, and 1 inch on either side of the bottom.

Hubby was in charge of the measuring and cutting (thanks, Hubby!) I hope to add another post in the future detailing that process.


Once the boards are painted and cut you are ready to install them! I suggest you  install both sides first, then the top and bottom.



We used a level to ensure everything would be as straight as possible. Remember, don’t rely on measurements alone to ensure a level finish! You should never assume any edges in your house are perfectly square, straight, or level (they probably aren’t).


Place nails about 6″ apart. Do this on both sides of the board (near the window and near the wall) to help hold the board flush to the wall. Also, try to stagger the inside and outside nails so they aren’t side by side.

Paint the window

Unfortunately I didn’t get any images of this step. You’ll need your foam roller, paint, paint tray, and detail brush. Remove any hardware or cover it with painter’s tape.

Paint as much as possible with the foam roller to provide that smooth finish. In the corners and tight spaces, use your detail brush. You’ll need about 3-4 coats to adequately cover the wood.

Finishing touches

Use the wood filler to fill and cover your nail holes. Once dry, sand them to a smooth finish.

Use caulk to fill all seams and gaps.

Finally, add one more finishing coat of paint with your foam roller. This covers the wood filler and guarantees an even finish.

And Voila! You’re Done!


Living Room Window

office windows

Spare bedroom

master window

Master bedroom


So tell me: What do you think of the Craftsman trend? What are your tips for replacing trim around the house?

Thanks for reading!

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