What is the Best Paint For Trim

The Best Paint for Trim

When planning a room makeover, it’s easy to forget about the interior trim, but picking the best paint for trim is as crucial a decision as selecting the primary wall color. These little details, like trim around floors, doors, walls, and windows, can seriously elevate your space, covering up the awkward gaps for a smoother, more finished look.

Paints have drastically improved over the last 20 – 30 years and what used to be the best may not be the best for your trim application. Semigloss still reigns supreme when it comes to the best paint for interior trim work. Other sheens are not completely off the table and might be better depending on your application. Whether you’re sprucing up old baseboards, crown molding, or the trim pieces around doors and windows, the paint you choose depends entirely on the look you’re going for, its practicality, and what your budget is. 

Oil or Water Based Paint for Trim?

Oil Based Paint

Oil-based paint typically uses natural oils like linseed oil or synthetic alkyd as its base.  It has a thicker consistency, provides a durable and glossy finish, and is better at covering imperfections in the trim. However, it takes longer to dry and can emit strong fumes during application.

Water Based Paint

Water based paint, also known as latex paint. This type of paint is made with water as the primary solvent, which gives it a thinner consistency and makes it much easier to work with. It dries quickly but is not nearly as durable as its oil based counterpart.

Gray painted trim in a bedroom with dark wood flooring
Via reDesign Home

Which Paint Type is the Best for Trim

Choosing the best type of paint for trim really comes down to weighing the pros and cons of oil-based versus water-based paints in relation to your specific needs. If longevity and a super smooth finish are what you’re after, and you don’t mind a bit of a wait for the paint to dry, oil-based paint is certainly the way to go. Its durability and resistance to wear make it a favorite for those high-touch areas. However, if you’re leaning towards a more environmentally friendly option with a much quicker drying time and a simpler cleanup process, water-based paint will be your best bet. There truly is no one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a personal decision based on your priorities of finish, durability, and personal taste. Whether you choose the durability of oil or the practicality of water-based paint, your trim will surely transform your space into something special and give the entire space a new look and feel.

What Paint Sheens are Best for Trim?

When you’re painting baseboards and other interior trim, picking the perfect finish is just as crucial as choosing the right color. Think about stuff like where the door is, how much use it gets, and the vibe you’re going for. The finish really affects how it looks and how long the paint job will last. 


Satin finishes give a soft shine that’s shinier than flat paint but not as glossy as semi-gloss. It’s great for resisting dirt and stains, making it perfect for interior and exterior trim. 

Semi-Gloss Paint

This finish provides a higher level of reflection and durability compared to satin paint finishes. The semi-gloss finish is not only easy to clean but also resistant to wear and tear, making it one of the best paint sheens for both interior and exterior trim applications.


These finishes provide superior shine and durability, yet they might accentuate surface imperfections on your door. Properly preparing the door before applying this finish is essential. Although less typical for trim applications, a gloss finish can offer a stunning, modern appearance if used correctly and in the right location.


An eggshell sheen is a great choice for a softer look on your home’s trim. While it’s less resistant to wear and tear compared to the more common trim sheens (satin, and semi-gloss) eggshell is still an excellent choice for your home’s trim. Use an eggshell sheen for a trim that you don’t want alot of shine.


Matte or flat pains should never be your go-to for painting trim. Truthfully any other sheen would be better than matte or flat paints for your home’s trim. There is no way to clean an area painted with matte or flat sheen. The only way to clean the area would be to simply repaint it with leftover paint. Not only are matte finishes not practical for any trim application it would just look strange since we are all used to seeing trim with at least a little shine to it.

What Color is Best for Trim?

White Paint Colors

Here are a few of my favorite white interior colors when used for interior trim.

Benjamin Moore Ballet White

Benjamin Moore Ballet White is a great choice if you are searching for the perfect off-white paint color. It’s perfectly neutral and it looks great in a variety of spaces. It’s warmth provides a feeling of refinement that feels very inviting. I think cream paint colors can look a bit dated but this one is very relevant and looks sophisticated on the walls.

Benjamin Moore Paper White

Benjamin Moore Paper White, a soft, cool gray-white paint color, is the perfect choice for creating a light and airy space. According to Benjamin Moore, Paper White is “a fresh sheet of paper, a touch of blue-gray lends a clean, crisp feel to this appealing white.” This off-white neutral offers some blue and green undertones that give it a cool gray feel that looks beautiful in many different spaces.

Gray(ish) Paint Colors

I have recently written a post about using gray trim in your home. These are a few of my most favorite gray paint colors for trim.

Sherwin Williams Eider White

Eider white which is a light gray paint color used for trim in this homes entryway.
via M House Development

Sherwin Williams Eider White is a complex color that can trick you if you aren’t careful. When chosen correctly, you’re rewarded with an inviting warmth that can bring a calming atmosphere to any space. Eider White is a subtle gray that is soothing without being too boring or unimaginative.

Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

This paint color is all about hitting that neutral, classic, timeless style. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, is a popular choice for a neutral, light gray paint color. Its versatility makes it a favorite among gray paint colors. The blue and green undertones make it a crisp cool inviting paint color that pairs beautifully with light wall paint.

Mix Match Sheens

Something I have been obsessed with lately is using the same paint color for the wall and the trim but using a different sheen for the two different applications. To lull this off successfully you have to be sure to use the right combination of paint sheens. I like to use an eggshell sheen on most walls and if I am going to paint the trim the same color as the wall I like to use a semi-gloss for the trim. So the walls are a bit dull and the trim will be shiny and allow it to stand out a bit more. 

Best Paint for Trim Summed Up

You’ll never get 100% consensus on what the best trim paint color or sheen is for baseboards and other interior trim. However, the general consensus is that a high-gloss sheen is the best sheen for trim for its durability and ease of cleaning. As far as the best paint color for baseboard and other interior trim, well that is 100% up to you. I really love all the bright white trim colors but the gray paints are certainly growing on me. Interior trim is a great way to express your individual style and make your home yours.

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