What is the best paint for trim, doors, and railings?

Mar 16, 2023 | Education

One of the biggest frustrations of building owners is failing paint on areas like doors, frames, trim, and railings. There is nothing more disappointing than paying good money for that shinny new paint job only to have the paint on these areas degrading and rubbing off of these high traffic surfaces. Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Paint failures always break down into one of three categories – bad prep (adhesion issues), bad paint choices (not appropriate for the use), or abuse. Let me explain.

Some of the failures we encounter are just simply back preparation. Skin oils and other contaminants are common on doors, frames, and railings. To get paint to stick, we often begin with a chemical wipe down. This is in the form of a heavy duty cleaner that will remove these contaminants. We then abrade the surface by sanding it just in case we missed anything, this step will both remove any remaining contaminant and give the surface a slight profile so the new coating can key into the small abrasions. Finally we will always perform a quick adhesion test to ensure our paint will bond to the surface. If not, we will explore the option of using a chemically bonding primer (commonly called a bonding primer) to ensure your new paint job will adhere for years to come.

Second has to do with a poor choice of paints. Too often we run into standard commercial wall paint applied to doors or railings. This will never give you the service you need out of your paint as it isn’t made to stand up to the use of most railings and doors. If you have standard paint on these surfaces, it will have to be removed if you want your paint job to be durable and look good for years to come. For most doors, trim, and railings, we recommend a product like Waterborne Alkyd Urethane Trim enamel from Sherwin Williams or Breakthrough from PPG or Advance from Benjamin Moore. These products stand up to skin oils and have a tough enamel surface after about a 15 day cure. Don’t let a contractor talk you into DTM – this paint is too soft and won’t hold up to oils over time.

Finally, let’s talk abuse. I’ve had people say to me, “I took my key to the paint and it scratched off!” My response is always that paint is just a thin layer of plastic. Your vehicles paint is quite durable, but wouldn’t even hold up to a key scratching it! Too often we say “paint failures” when we really just don’t want to do the hard work of discipline and maintenance. From boxes being slid down railings to wedding rings rubbing on doors, the reality is that paint is just a very thin layer of plastic polymer. It will scuff and tear when service carts are pushed up against it. There are products that will give you good service in almost any circumstance, but it is still just paint.

We can help you pick the right product for your next project, just give us a call at 317-528-9500 and we will schedule an appointment to look over your project and recommend the best product for your project!