You guys! I am so excited! We FINALLY tackled a project that's been on our to do list for years - and by years I am not exaggerating. Refinishing our window trim has been on the remodel list for the better part of a decade but keeps getting pushed back because it seemed intimidating.

Guess what? It's not scary at all! Hubs went out of town with the youngest one weekend so I decided to rip apart out windows while he was gone. He despises the process of painting in a way that I cannot adequately describe, which means I try to do those type of projects when he is preoccupied with other things. In this case an out of town BMX race came to the rescue. Which left me with a stack of new blinds and a need to refinish our window trim.

I decided to remove the exterior window trim and replace it with wider trim to match what we installed on our doors a while back. If you choose to take this route, you'll need to plan for that step and purchase new trim. Easy, peasy. I did learn the hard way that my local home depot doesn't typically cut trim (there's a hand saw for you to cut your own), but luckily I was able to convince a very cool retired NatGeo photographer to cut a couple pieces for me. The things you learn about people when you're bonding over home improvement projects!

Plan a 3-4 hours from start to finish for each window that you're working on, as the individual have a fair bit of dry time in between each. If you're working on multiple windows you should be able to make pretty decent progress if you are able to cycle through each step.

Let's do this!

Supplies

  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Utility Knife
  • Crowbar (if removing your existing trim)
  • Putty Knife
  • Wood filler/Drywall compound
  • Sandpaper in various grits
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Latex Gloves
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Finish Nails
  • Awl
  • Caulk

If you're replacing trim you'll also need:

  • Replacement Trim
  • Saw
  • Measuring Tape

Method

First, you'll want to remove any hardware that is on the windows. I used my drill for this, it should have been fairly straightforward except I couldn't find the right bits and had to make a special trip to town to get a new set of drill bits. Don't be like me - test your bits before you get started! You want the drill bit to fit snugly in the screwhead so that it won't strip the screw when you're removing it. If you plan to donate or keep your fixtures, store the hardware and screws in a safe spot for later.

If you're taking the replacement path, this is when you'll want to remove the existing trim. Run your utility knife along the outside edge of the trim to separate the trim from the wall. This will help you avoid damage to your wall when removing the trim. Now grab your crowbar and tap it under the edge of the trim with your hammer, then pull! Isn't demo one of your favorite parts of home improvement? Mine too! Now go around and pull out any nails that are still in the wall - they'll annoy you later if you forget.

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Now your windows will look completely ridiculous (ignore the Christmas lights that are still up...), but it's time to prep the interior trim for painting. I chose to paint the interior and exterior portions of the trim separately so I could paint the exterior pieces before assembling (read: avoid having to tape...). Using your putty knife and a VERY small amount of wood filler or drywall compound, fill the holes and smooth the surface as much as possible with the putty knife. Usually a good firm swipe will do it. Now we wait... It took about 20 minutes for this to dry - enough time to refresh coffee!

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Once your fill is dry, sand with a high grit sandpaper (the higher the grit the smoother the surface). I used 80 grit since the existing wood trim wasn't super smooth to begin with and sanded the entire surface to prep for painting. Next, it's time to paint! I taped the upper interior of the window to ensure keep that edge clean and used a cut brush to do the rest of the edges. Guys, I HATE taping and the cut brush and a steady hand make it so I can only tape in the trickiest of spots. I forgot to take a picture of this step completed, but ended up painting two coats of paint, allowing an hour or so to dry between coats.

While the interior trim paint was drying, I cut my trim to length and painted it. We wanted the trim to be a bit craftsman style, so cut the pieces to butt together in the corners with the top having a 3/4 inch overhang on each side. I used a miter saw to cut the trim, but you can use whatever you have - handsaw, circular saw, if you're brave, a table saw... Once the trim was cut I painted it on two sawhorses and let it dry for about an hour.

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Now for the really fun part - installing the painted trim! I started with the bottom piece and centered it on the window. Take time to make sure the board is level and centered - use an actual level to make sure the trim is straight. This is NOT the time to eyeball it, as I'm very prone to doing. Once the board is situated, use finish nails to attach it to the wall (or a finish nail gun if you're so inclined). Make sure that the nails are connecting with wood, not just drywall, otherwise it's pretty likely that your hard work won't last as long as expected. I installed nails every 2-3 feet and put a couple on the edge farthest from the window to make sure the board was secure.

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Once you get the nails in, you'll want to countersink the heads to make sure you can fill the holes. This lets you hide them so your board is smooth. Use a small awl to tap the nail heads into the board. Attach the remainder of the boards until they're all installed, then do another round of filling the holes. Let this dry, sand and apply one more coat of paint on the main surface of the trim.

Ta dah!!! You just installed new trim!! We also attached new blinds to do a bit of an update which made a huge difference in the room.

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Check out the before pic, it's a drastic improvement!

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