Best Paint Finish For Trim & Baseboards Today

Best Paint Finish For Trim & Baseboards


Most popular paint finish for trim, baseboards, and all woodwork in your home is either gloss or semi-gloss.

Best paint finishes will bring attention, reflection, clean-ability, smoothness, hardness & durability to your interior trim and baseboards.

Several reasons these finishes are used on all woodwork trim surfaces explained in detail, below. If you are getting ready to paint interior trim, door casings, and baseboards, glad you're here first. Getting correct info out of the box, so you won't have to repaint them anytime soon.

Yesterday's oil based paints are currently being phased out. Oil based paint, also solvents are being replaced across America, with a much safer, far superior, Eco Friendly, water-borne replacement.

Reasons to employ best paint finish for trim & baseboards;

  • Perfect finish to make them pop, bringing attention, showing off trim
  • Best reflective paint for baseboards
  • Great paint sheen for deep scrubbing, easier cleaning
  • Smoothest paint finish where they are touched the most
  • Protecting scuffs and scratches, with hardest durable paint finishes

Best Paint For Interior Trim


Providing the very best paint for interior trim is important in that the paint you choose will not only enhance, but protect for many years of enjoyment. Wanting something that has a thick, smooth hard coating is what's on most homeowner's minds.

Your best interior trim paint will be an Acrylic water-borne latex paint with hardest coating once dried. Gloss and semi-gloss paint sheens do just that.

Gloss and semi-gloss reflects light most, compared to satin, pearl, matte, also flat. More reflection, brings more attention to all trim and basewood near flooring. Wanting trim to stand out, show off, and display your baseboards in the very best light possible.

Not only reflection, but a rock-solid finish for multiple more cleanings than other paint sheens offer. Because let's face it. Dust collects atop of baseboard edges. Reason why vacuum attachments used weekly from professional cleaning services. Cleaning these flat edges. Many times using a wet rag or sponge for a superb cleaned surface.

If you would've painted this trim with anything other than gloss or semi-gloss, you'd need to repaint much sooner.

The glossier the finish, the more smoother it will feel. Have you ever touched an edge of a door, feeling like sandpaper? Either door edges were not sanded first before painting, also used an incorrect paint sheen. Door edges, also baseboards should be lightly sanded, even using gloss or semi-gloss paint, with a smoothest finish possible.

Even years ago, wood trim including baseboards have been painted with a hard oil enamel. Today, oil has been phased out, and technology has come full circle with water-borne, acrylic latex paints. Most major paint brands offer superior paints made to be just as hard as yesterday's oil enamels, with less Volatile Odor Content (V.O.C's). Keeping air quality at it's finest. Today's trim paint far better than paints made for trim 40+ years ago!

Satin Or Semi Gloss For Trim And Doors


We get this question asked several times a year, painting interiors for our customers. "What finish should we choose for our walls, trim, and doors"? Satin or semi-gloss for trim and doors really depends on personal preference, with satin finish having the slightest bit less reflection than semi-gloss. If you are a cleaning fanatic, you certainly would be best served using semi-gloss, than satin.

Starting with ceilings, having least reflection, being flat. Walls with a slight bit more sheen, being eggshell, satin, or pearl. Doors, trim and baseboards, gloss, or semi-gloss is recommended by the pros.

Besides giving highest reflection, but giving these surfaces most protection. More protection is needed where they are touched the most. More touches requires more cleaning, thereby giving your trim the very best finish you can provide, the first go-around.

Best Paint Finishes For Doors

The glossier the finish, the easier it is to clean, having more scrubs, not harming the the actual paint coating itself. Knowing inside doors is a very large portion within the home, just as your furniture, dusting & cleaning them is important. Getting a lot of traffic from hands, requiring to consistently clean, wiping down with a sponge and mild detergent, or just lightly go over with a damp wiping cloth.

Most doors collect dust just as furniture, and if you dust on a regular basis, doors should be included in the list to dust and clean. Paint sheen that allows this all important cleaning, wiping, and dusting is semi-gloss, gloss, or high-gloss acrylic latex paint, similar to a fine piece of furniture, both being smooth in texture.

Bringing attention to these areas, such as baseboards, door casings, woodwork, doors, and crown. Gloss or semi-gloss is widely used. Especially having crown at the top corners of your ceilings. You want those to pop, or stand out. Having a gloss finish, displaying you have them.

It's also important keeping all trim the same finish through-out your home, with everything consistent. Use the same finish for all trim and doors as your baseboards, casings & crown moldings.


Satin Vs Semi Gloss Trim

In your kitchen, where wiping down all surfaces should be done on a regular basis, semi-gloss is much easier to clean than flat, eggshell, or satin.

How many times have you needed to wipe off dirt and grim around door knobs? Well, gloss or semi-gloss offers best finish to clean these areas. Same goes for your trim and baseboards too.

Satin paint finishes work well on walls, in high traffic areas as well as rooms with higher moisture content. Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms accept satin paint finishes on walls. Just as these wall surfaces do well with satin paint finishes, gloss & semi-gloss does even better for trim in those same areas.


A semi-gloss enamel sheen is sleek and radiant resisting mildew, moisture and wear.

Semi-gloss Enamel Sheen Paint sample
  • Applications:Cabinets and trim; high-traffic, high-moisture areas
  • Areas:Kids' rooms, hallways, kitchens, bathrooms, doors, windows, trim, cabinets, shutters
  • Durability:High
  • Product(s):BEHR MARQUEE® Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel BEHR ULTRA Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel PREMIUM PLUS® Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel

Hi-Gloss enamel sheens provide have a brilliant, shiny appearance and a durable, glass-like finish that allows dirt and grime to be wiped clean.

hi-Gloss Enamel Sheen Paint sample
  • Applications:High-use surfaces
  • Areas:Kitchens, bathrooms, doors, windows, trim, cabinets, shutters, interior furniture
  • Durability:High
  • Product(s):PREMIUM PLUS® Interior/Exterior Hi-Gloss Enamel

Satin sheen

One step up from eggshell is satin. Satin sheen has just a hint more gloss than eggshell, but less than semi-gloss. Satin paint sheen being similar to eggshell, not too shinny, has the benefits of eggshell's clean-ability as well. Half of the homes who decide something other than eggshell, picks satin. Ideal for walls, in high traffic areas, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Semi-gloss sheen

Another very popular paint sheen is semi-gloss. Semi-gloss has a shine to it, on a more dull side than gloss. This sheen is widely used on most wood trim surfaces in the home. Trim surfaces include baseboards, doors, window ledges, handrails, cabinets, and the like. Coming in almost an infinite color selection, this semi-gloss makes it superb cleaning on a weekly or monthly basis. Generally not used on walls, unless in an industrial setting.

Gloss & High Gloss Paint Finish

Gloss and high gloss paints offer the most reflection of all other choices. With most reflection means the most smoothest, slickest surfaces. Highest gloss brings most attention to those pieces of trim you are most proud of. If you want to show off that six inch trim, crown, or baseboards, best using highest gloss available.

The glossier the finish, the easier it is to clean. Wiping away dirt and grim with ease. Also noting no fear of that paint coming off as you wipe.

Worst Paint Finish For Trim

One extreme example was seen just a couple years ago. Viewed the very worst finish interior wood trim could have.

We were called to give an estimate painting an interior home here locally. It had been at least 15-20 years since it was painted. What looked so awful was the trim. All kitchen cabinet drawer and door fronts looked black on flat white paint finish. Years of dirt, grim, grease, and scum covered entire trim surfaces. Our clients had the poorest cleaning traits, and it showed.

Reason why they did not clean woodwork, trim, doors, and cabinets, was because they all were painted with flat paint. Telling me that paint would come off, being wiped off with a damp, wet rag. So What? Holy Cow, they originally painted with flat paint, so they never had to clean? Felt like this was a HAZMAT facility, how filthy it was.

Before painting, we scheduled a professional cleaning company to wipe down all surfaces with Lysol™ before our painters got started. Disinfecting, cleaning off all the years grim that built up. Who cares about flat paint coming off at this point. It was actually hideous they both had never taken a rag to their interior trim, no matter what finish it was, last quarter of a century.

I know this is an extreme. 99.99% of everyone else,  not letting their home get this bad, especially where food is prepared. The kitchen. Not only were their cabinets black with years of grease, dirt, and grim, but flat paint is much more porous, making it harder to clean in the first place.

What was even worse, is we could all tell these cabinets were not professionally painted, even with flat paint. Reason, it was obvious seeing brush marks under all the grease and grim.

Best paint finish for trim and baseboards is gloss or semi-gloss paint sheens. All trim, woodwork, baseboards which are painted, needs to be in gloss, or semi-gloss paint finish, and not satin.

Semi-gloss offers more scrubbing, wiping, and deep cleanings than satin paint finishes.


Trim and Cabinetry Paint Sheen

Trim and cabinetry normally are painted with semi-gloss or high gloss paint for detailed woodwork, banisters, door casing, base boards, and the like. Semi-gloss and Gloss paint sheen highlights wood trim for a pleasing contrast against matte or satin painted walls.

Semi-gloss and Gloss paint is also a good choice for kitchen cabinets-airborne grease cleans right off. Just be sure to prep surfaces meticulously, as glossy surfaces are unforgiving, as they show every wood imperfection. Filling in dents, dings, sanding smooth is always recommended before applying final paint coat.


A List Of Preferred Trim Paint Suppliers;

In Closing;

Glad you've found this before starting an interior painting project. Knowing what best paint finish for trim & baseboards. Getting off on the right foot will save you time and money, not to mention a wealth of protection & enjoyment, from the start.

Implementing a paint finish with the highest gloss you're comfortable with, will protect, enhance those areas of trim and baseboards for many years to come.

Providing you our inside knowledge we've learned, painting homes in and around Denver, CO. Knowing each job is somewhat different, so you'll need to utilize what fits your requirements.  Whether it's in Los Angeles, CA. Chicago, IL. Houston, TX. New Orleans, LA. or Miami, FL. every interior has same basic paint finishes. Flat for ceilings, eggshell, satin, pearl, matte for walls, semi-gloss, gloss, to high gloss for woodwork. Making your interior a thing of beauty.

Hope you've enjoyed learning what best paint finishes for trim, also baseboards. If this has helped you with your next trim painting, give us a like, share, or comment!

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Brie tonkerson
Brie tonkerson
3 years ago

Thank you for this educational post.


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