What is the Best Paint Finish for Trim? Here's What Experts Recommend for a Professional Look that Lasts

Decorating your space with bold trim is all the rage, and here's how to achieve a professional-worthy finish

living room with light gray walls and black trims, matble fireplace, dark blue and light blue sofa, wooden coffee table
(Image credit: Zoe Feldman Design)

Every interior enthusiast knows that the devil is truly in the details. Lucky for us, the details are arguably the easiest bits to switch up whenever you feel that revamp itch coming on. They may be minute in comparison to the visually larger elements but they make all the difference to a space. And one such detail that we find easy to makeover while also contributing a significant amount of charm is the trim.

Whether it's door trim ideas, outlined window frames, a bold baseboard idea, or even all three combined, painting perimeters can make a real statement, but you'll need to choose the right finish if you want your paint to last. If you're giving your home a DIY upgrade and wondering which finish works best for trim - wonder no more. We've got the inside scoop on what works best and we aren't one to gatekeep. Rumor has it that this finish perfectly complements any space and is the ultimate in-betweener for a balanced appeal.

What paint finish is best for trim?

a room with a blue door and teal door trim

(Image credit: Josh Thornton. Design: Summer Thornton Design)

Having spoken to a couple of our trusted experts, we've found that semi-gloss is an overwhelmingly popular option for trim. Lisbeth Prada, color marketing manager at Dutch Boy Paints, tells us that semi-gloss finishes are often recommended for trim due to their higher levels of sheen, which provide a more hardwearing surface.

'Semi-gloss finishes offer an even higher sheen, making the trim stand out more in a room,' she notes. 'They are very durable and highly resistant to moisture and stains, which makes them ideal for trim, doors, and even cabinets.'

When choosing a paint finish for trim, Lisbeth explains that it's important to consider both durability and ease of maintenance. She strongly recommends using premium products that offer exceptional stain resistance and ensure a clean finish.

family living room with blue walls and yellow trim

(Image credit: Future)

We find that decorative trimmings deserve a bit of gloss to give them that dimensional edge and Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy Painters of La Grange, agrees. 'A satin finish would work well on trim but I recommend a semi-gloss for a great finishing touch,' he says. There is nothing more annoying than having to clean your trim (and most of us certainly don’t do it as often as we should), so the benefit of both of these kinds of finishes is that they make cleaning easier and faster.'

When comparing satin vs semi-gloss paint finishes, Andre also explains that semi-gloss is more durable when it comes to combating moisture, meaning there is a lower likelihood of mold buildup. And if that isn't enough to convince you of its winning qualities, Andre notes that semi-gloss is great for home DIYers as it doesn't show brush strokes as clearly as other finishes.

A family room with blue trim, a large linen corner sofa and green foot stools with blue stitching

(Image credit: Design: Arterberry Cooke / Photography: Madeline Harper)

Seth Miles of Groovy Hues also declares he's a big believer in semi-gloss trim for that added hint of style when experimenting with your next trim color combos. 'Trim areas, such as baseboards, door frames, and window casings, tend to get a lot of wear and tear,' says Seth. 'So I recommend choosing a paint that can withstand bumps, scrapes, and frequent cleaning.'

Seth points out that semi-gloss paint offers a nice balance between sheen and durability. He commonly recommends this finish as it has a subtle shine that highlights the trim without being too overwhelming. In his expertise, this finish is especially convenient as it's easier to clean compared to flat or eggshell finishes, which makes it ideal for busy areas in the house.

When compared to semi-gloss, high-gloss does offer a brighter sheen but Seth tells us that this extra shine happens to highlight imperfections more than semi-gloss. All in all, the experts unanimously agree that semi-gloss is a trusty finish to turn to for trim, so it's a certified winner in our eyes.

Our Favorite Semi-Gloss Paint Buys

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.