Hometown Painting LLC logo

Interior 2

Which Paint Should I Use On Trim and Doors?

Photo of author

Matt Stone

Choosing the right paint to go on the woodwork of your home can make a huge difference in the final appearance and durability of the finished product. Smooth, glossy surfaces like doors and trim can easily show imperfections in the paint. Also, your home’s woodwork can be scratched and scuffed by the normal wear and tear of life. Choosing high-quality paint for your trim and doors will create a beautiful, long-lasting finish on your woodwork.

Why Choosing High-Quality Paint is Critical for Woodwork

trim and doors in an interior living room painted with enamel

There are two main factors that make for the perfect trim and door paint.

#1 Smooth Finish

Doors and trim are a smooth surface that will readily show imperfections in the paint. Brush marks and unevenness that would probably go unnoticed on a wall or ceiling will be easy to see on your woodwork. In addition, trim and doors are often painted with glossier finishes. The glossy paint will only further highlight any imperfections in the finish. Because of this, a trim paint needs to be able to flow to a smooth even finish.

#2 Durability

Doors and trim receive more wear and tear than many other surfaces in your home. Moving things in and out of doorways often results in a bump or rub against the door or its surrounding trim. Baseboards can be kicked or scuffed by passing shoes or rubbed by the legs of furniture. Because they are in harm’s way, doors and trim need an extra durable paint that will hold up to wear and tear.

Types of Paint for Woodwork

There are several types of paint that painters in the Oklahoma City area will use to paint trim and doors. These include Oil-based paint, Lacquer based paint, and water-based trim enamels.

Oil-Based Paint: This was the tried and true paint for woodwork in past generations. The biggest benefit of oil-based paint is the smooth, strong finish it provides. Oil-based paints have fallen out of favor lately for several key reasons. The biggest concern is the strong odors and VOCs given off as the paint dries. These chemicals are not as safe as water-based options that are now available.

Lacquer-based Paint: This is still a paint that is commonly used in the Oklahoma City area. It is especially common in new home construction. Painters often like this paint because it is extremely fast drying and makes the painting work go faster. It also results in a very smooth finish. It can be described as glass-like.

Lacquer-based paints share the same health concerns as oil-based paints. They are very high in VOCs and give an extremely offensive odor while drying. While they have a very hard surface, they are difficult to touch-up if they are every chipped or scratched.

Water Based Trim Enamel: Some of the most exciting advances in paint technology recently have come in the area of water-based trim paints. Water-based paint has historically lagged behind both oil and lacquer in terms of smoothness and strength. With recent advances in paint technology, you don’t have to potentially sacrifice your health to have a strong, smooth finish on your woodwork.

What Makes Water-Based Trim Enamel Special?

You might have thought you can use any interior water-based paint for your woodwork, but choosing a purpose-built trim enamel will give the best results. These products are specifically for woodwork and will outperform paints designed to go on walls or other surfaces.

Trim enamels are produced with additives that give them many desirable qualities for use on woodwork. They will include additives that increase their dry time which gives them more time to smooth out as they dry. This will give them a smooth finish like oil-based alternatives.

Trim enamels are also given additives that increase their durability. This makes the paint tough to stand up to the wear and tear that woodwork receives.

Hometown Painting’s Top Choice For Painting Woodwork

emerald urethane trim enamel paint can

Hometown Painting partners with Sherwin Williams to provide quality paint products to our customers. When it comes to trim paint, one of the best on the market is Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel.

The benefits of Emerald Utethane Paint include:

  • Hard, durable finish resists wear and tear.
  • Creates a superbly smooth finish.
  • Water-based for easy clean up and low odor
  • Low odor and VOC

Choosing The Right Sheen For Your Woodwork

Because higher-sheen paints are more durable, woodwork had traditionally been painted with semigloss or high gloss sheens. Modern paint technology has created even lower-sheen paints that can stand up to scrubbing and washing. For more information consult our paint sheen guide.


Improvements in technology have made water-based trim enamels the best choice for painting your home’s woodwork. You can have peace of mind knowing that your trim and doors will look great for years to come and will not harm your health in the process. If you have any further questions about interior painting feel free to contact us or call (405) 202-7945

Photo of author
Author: Matt Stone
Matt is the owner of Hometown Painting. He has worked in the painting and construction trades for over 10 years. He has a passion for teaching homeowners so they can make the best paint choices for their homes.

Leave a Comment