[This is part of our How to Paint Moldings series]

latex paint extenders

add to latex paint for moldings, trim, millworkAn experienced painter advised me to add Floetrol to a can of trim paint I was going to use on a really large fireplace surround because I was worried that I couldn’t paint the large, flat surfaces fast enough to not leave drag marks in the finish coat of paint.

I’d never used a paint extender (also called a paint leveler) before, but after the first five minutes I was a true believer in the stuff, and have added it to every can of latex paint I’ve used on moldings since.


The Problem With Latex Molding Paint

Latex paints get sticky if you expose them to the air for very long. That’s a problem when you’re painting large, detailed moldings like wainscoting and fireplace mantels. You don’t want to leave ropy-looking drag marks in your paint finish.

The Solution: Perfectly Imperfect Moldings

I really don’t like the look of a really good spray paint job on moldings. That’s because it makes them look like they were stamped out in a factory — cold and impersonal.  A few gentle brush strokes in your paint is fine, especially at molding direction changes like miters. In fact, I prefer them.

Brush strokes, on the other hand — not too many, mind you — give the moldings a touched-by-human-hands warmth that I love. I know that sounds corny, but I really do mean it.

But too many brush strokes looks sloppy, so just make sure you add some kind of latex paint extender like Floetrol or X-I-M for really beautiful results.

A few other tips to help keep your paint fresh when painting moldings:

latex paint extender for wall paint around moldings cutting in

  • Use a small paint tray and add just a little paint at a time — don’t fill it up.
  • Use a quality (read, expensive) brush like a Purdy or Wooster.
  • Clean your brush every hour or so to get the old paint out.
  • Buy good paint.
  • Turn the heat down in winter and turn the air conditioning up in the summer to slow the drying time. This gives your paint a little more time to level before it sets up.

Use Paint Extender for Cutting In Walls

Don’t forget you can use paint extender in wall paint too. I use if when I’m cutting in around a lot of molding details like in the picture below. I’ll also use it when painting large ceilings.

latex paint extender for wall paint around moldings cutting in
I’m using Floetrol in this wall paint because of all the molding detail, and because it’s summer in Arizona!

[This is part of our How to Paint Moldings series]