How to get a smooth paint finish on doors and trim?

blue_fastbackDecember 19, 2005

I am about ready to paint my basement for the first time after a remodel. I would like the doors and trim to have a nice smooth finsh. I was going to buy a Wagner Sprayer but did a search on this site and seems like sone one likes the Wagner. I bought a special paint from S.W. that is supose to flow together for a smooth finsh. I tried it in the laundry room and was not impressed. Any ideas?


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I like those small foam rollers for getting an even finish.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 2:17PM
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I think the foam rollers do a pretty good job of leaving a smooth finish (no brush marks). However, if you are a perfectionist, the smoothest finish will result from using a sprayer. If you are not experienced with a sprayer, practice putting on an even coat and not overspraying or you will get drip marks.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 6:30PM
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The smoothness of a paint coverage depends almost as much on the applicator as the paint. Adding Floetrol will help greatly in getting a smooth finish.

Using a $25 paint brush that is designed for the type of paint being used will also go a long way in getting a smooth finish.

Technique is also a factor, getting too much or too little paint on the brush and subsequently on the surface causes runs/drips/brush marks.

However, even the most accomplished brush paint job will not look as smooth as a sprayed on finish. The gotcha with sprayers is they take more expensive equipment/technique than brushing.

I have a friend who just had a new house built---and the builder had his sprayers do the woodwork. They spent a week and a half-----on just the door/base/crown molding. And did that before the walls were painted.

It is the best trim paint job I have ever seen----I hate to ask what the cost was----the house was around 500K.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 7:10PM
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I won't repeat what Mac has said. But it's all true.

A smooth finish with brush requires high quality self-leveling paint, a high quality brush, and the skill to apply it.

Don't blame the paint. 99% of the time it's the painter.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 9:33PM
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oil paint instead of latex also gives a smooth finish. The floetrol does help and a good quality brush for trim and for the paint type helps too. For doors I would spray and I have done that with my wagner. Floetrol is required for this too to thin the paint and to not see a splatter finish. My suggestion is to pick a room and tape it all up and spray the doors in there.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 9:34PM
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I think the most important factor is surface prep. Make sure everything is sanded smooth, with no particles. I'd vaccuum off all the surfaces to be painted. Then use good quality paint and you're good to go.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 9:28PM
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Just for clarification on conditioners: If latex, use floetrol. If oil/alkyd, use penetrol.

Purdy or Wooster brushes are my favorites.

Surface prep is key. Sand smooth, tack cloth to remove all dust.


Light scuff sand by hand, just to knock off the nibs. Tack again.

First coat of paint, then very light scuff, tack.

Top coat.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 8:26AM
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If you use oil, then you shouldn't use the foam rollers.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 4:13AM
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I've used Sherwin Williams' Pro Classic semi-gloss latex with VERY good results. It has extra hardeners for a smooth, durable finish.

The first time I bought it, they instructed me to brush the paint on, going in one direction and to work my way down the trim, back-brushing slightly into the wet edge I just left. They said the paint begins to set up quicker than standard latex paints, so going over it multiple times will leave brush strokes. If you lay it on with the brush and don't go back over it with more than a couple brush strokes, it lays down as smoothly as oil base. You know what? They were right! I love the stuff!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 2:38PM
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Wagner sprayers are definitely not going to give you the best quality advice is...if you want to spray, go to home depot or any of your local paint stores and find out how much they want for an airless sprayer rental... granted there is a bit more technique involved but the quality of the finish will be better. For brush and roll I recommend a purdy brush and high end paint like Benjamin Moore or valspar...I have had very good results with both.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 12:50PM
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Any idea's on painting "backband" on door casing. We just put it in over all the doors and windows with the Carolina casing 2 1/4 and 3 1/4 for doors, looks really nice...but darn, painting is going to be a bear!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 2:41PM
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I also went to Sherwin-Williams and got a $45 gallon of paint. I was instructed to prime, paint, sand with 220 grit, then paint again for a smooth finish. But I'm not sure what type of brush to use. Natural or synthetic fibers? BTW, I'm painting cabinets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blythewood SC Real Estate

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 11:21PM
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