Can You Paint PVC Trim?


Last updated: September 7, 2023

Learn how to paint PVC trims in this detailed painters’ guide.

Can you paint PVC trim

PVC trim is a common choice for window and door frames due to its durability and ease of cleaning. It’s an easy way to add a refresh to your home dΓ©cor without splurging cash. Unfortunately, most standard PVC trims are stack white, and the colored ones are usually more expensive. 

If you wish to change the color of your PVC trim without spending much money, you may have thought about painting it. So, can you paint PVC trim? Keep on reading to learn whether or not it’s possible to paint PVC trim and the best way to go about it! 

Can You Paint PVC Trim?

Even though PVC has a slick outer surface, it’s possible to paint it. All you need is the right paint (ideally, acrylic latex), a compatible primer that works for plastics, and good surface preparation. Painting PVC trim is a relatively simple process once you follow the right steps.

What is PVC trim?

PVC trim is a plastic alternative to wood. As the name suggests, it is made from PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride.

PVC is one of the most produced plastics and is used in many building and construction projects. Many homeowners prefer PVC trims over wood or MDF because it’s not easily damaged by moisture. It doesn’t warp, rot, crack, or get saggy. It also requires less maintenance and is very easy to clean.

Like most materials, it is available in many colors, so you can find something that suits your home. However, the standard color is white, which is what you will mostly find. 

Pros of PVC trim

There are many advantages to choosing PVC trim over wood options. Here are some of them:

  • PVC trim is made from plastic, making it water-resistant. It won’t warp or rot away like wood. It is also resistant to mold growth.
  • Because it’s a plastic material, it has some flex to it, which makes it easier to mold around tough corners or awkward areas.
  • Since plastic is cheaper than wood, PVC trims are generally less expensive than their wood counterparts.
  • Like other materials, you can easily customize it to suit the look of your home by painting or other methods.
  • Finally, PVC is low maintenance. Once it is painted, it won’t need to be repainted for a long time. Cleaning it is also very easy.
  • It doesn’t expand or contract as much as wood, which makes it more durable.

Cons of PVC trim

Here are the main downsides of using PVC trim:

  • Although PVC itself is cheaper than wood, it might incur a higher cost for installation. Also, it usually takes longer to install because of the drilling required.
  • Because it’s a composite material, it is not as strong as wood. It is more prone to breakage, especially when it’s being installed.
  • It doesn’t have high resistance to fire, so it may be the best option if you are living in an area with high risk of fire.
  • Bare PVC trim tends to be yellow over time. However, this can be resolved by painting it.
  • Like other trim materials, it is subject to dents, gouging, and other kinds of damage. This is why it is best not to use it in high-traffic areas.

Can you spray paint PVC trim?

Yes, you can. Spray paint offers an easy way to recolor PVC trim without the limitation of traditional painting methods like brushes and rollers. 

You don’t have to worry about leaving brush marks on the paint job, and it dries much faster than other paint types. It is also easy to use and doesn’t require much detail, which makes it great for beginners. 

If you’re using spray paint, it is important to maintain the right distance from the trim. Don’t spray too close or too far to avoid pooling or over-spraying. We recommend keeping a distance of 6-12 inches from the trim. 

Can you paint pvc trim with latex paint?

Latex is not the best paint for PVC because it doesn’t stick initially due to the smoothness of the material. 

If you want to use latex paint on PVC trim, you have to sand the surface first. This will give the surface some texture, which helps with adhesion. It’s also a good idea to use a good-quality primer before applying the paint. 

How to choose the right paint for pvc trim

Here are some factors to consider when choosing paint for PVC trim. 

1. Compatibility

The most important consideration is to choose a product that is compatible with your PVC trim or PVC generally. Even though the paint is acrylic latex, which is often recommended for PVC trims, it’s still a good idea to check the label just to be sure. 

Luckily, all the products reviewed here work well for PVC as well as other materials like wood, metal, and other plastics. 

2. Drying Time

Most spray paints typically dry in under 30 minutes except for oil-based formulas, which usually take up to an hour or more. 

If you are using a paint that doesn’t dry fast, the project might take several days, especially if you’re applying multiple coats. 

If you have a lot of time, this might not be a big deal. But if you’re in a hurry, then you would want a product that dries in less than 30 minutes. 

3. Primer

Like other painting projects, painting PVC trim requires you to use a primer. This will help the adhesion process and ensure you get an even coat. 

Some spray paints come with built-in primer, which means you don’t need to apply a separate coat of primer when using the paint. 

Others, though, don’t contain a primer, so you will need to prime the surface separately before applying the paint. This increases the amount of time spent on the project.

4. Color/Finish

Lastly, you want to consider the paint color and finish. There are different colors of spray paint with different levels of glossiness. These include gloss, matte, satin, high-gloss, and even metallic finishes. 

If you want your trim to look super shiny and have a higher light reflective value, then go for a high-gloss paint; otherwise, choose a matte or flat finish. Matte or flat paints are best for hiding imperfections on the surface, but they are not shiny. 

5. Durability 

In addition to the finish, you should also choose a paint that is durable. This might not be a big deal if you’re painting interior trim. However, for an outdoor cellular PVC trim, you need something that can withstand the elements.  

Ideally, you want a product that is water-resistant and has U.V. protection for the surface you’re using it on.

How to paint PVC trim

What You Need:

Follow these steps if you’re spray painting PVC trim for the first time:

Step 1: Remove the trim

The first step is to remove the trim from where it’s installed and lay it on your table or workbench. If you can’t remove the trim, then you can tape off the areas surrounding the trip. This will ensure you don’t get paint on them.

Step 2: Wash the trim

It’s most likely the trim is dirty. Start by washing it with soapy water, then allow it to dry. 

NB: Washing might not be necessary if it’s a new trim. In this case, you can simply clean it with acetone. This will help remove all residue on the product and etch the surface, thereby reducing the smoothness, which allows the paint to adhere better. 

Simply soak a rag with acetone and use it to wipe the trim. Make sure you have your gloves on.

You can also use acetone if you wash the trim. But this is not necessary, especially if you plan to use a primer. That said, if you’re applying the solvent (acetone), allow the surface to dry first from washing. Allow the solvent to dry. 

Step 3: Sand the surface

At this point, you want to scour the surface with sandpaper. This will help the paint and primer adhere better. Skipping the step is not recommended as it can cause the paint to easily scrape off. 

Start with 220-grit sandpaper to rough up the surface, then finish off with 80-grit paper to create deeper grooves.

Step 4: Apply primer and paint.

Next, remove the sanding dust. Then apply a suitable primer depending on the PVC trim. Some brands have excellent adhesion and might not require a primer. Also, if you cleaned the surface with denatured alcohol or acetone, you can skip the primer step. 

If you wish to use a primer, ensure it’s compatible with the paint. Ideally, you should use an acrylic latex primer. Apply one or two light coats of primer and wait for it to completely dry. 

Next, apply the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply 2-3 light coats and allow to cure fully before handling the item. Place a drop cloth around the workspace to catch any paint overspray. 

You should be ready to dedicate a few days to the entire project.

 What is the best paint to use on PVC trim?

Acrylic latex paint is commonly used for PVC trim because it’s durable and can flex with plastic material. It also provides good adhesion and doesn’t crack or fade easily. It is available in multiple colors. 

We highly recommend using an acrylic latex primer if it’s your first time painting the trim. This will ensure you get the best possible finish. 

Avoid using lacquer paints on PVC trim as they are brittle and won’t flex with the plastic over time, leading to cracks on the paint job.

In general, you can use any paint on PVC trim as long as it’s indicated on the label that you can use it. 

Best Paint for PVC Trim

1. Best Overall: Krylon ColorMaster Paint and Primer 

The Krylon ColorMaster can be used for various surfaces, including PVC trim. It also works on wood, metal, plaster, and most plastics. 

It’s particularly recommended for outdoor PVC trims as it protects from fading. 

The paint dries to the touch in just 10 minutes, 

making it one of the fastest-drying formulas. It goes on smooth and covers evenly with just a single coat or two. We recommend at least two light coats for the best results. More is better! 

Interestingly, the product includes a primer, so there’s no need to apply a separate coat of primer. But if you want the best protection, we highly recommend using a primer, as it helps with coverage and adhesion. 

The spray expels the fluid without any blobs or splatters, and you don’t need to push the button hard. However, we found the cap a little smaller, especially if you have large fingers, though the smaller size provides more control. 

As earlier indicated, the paint dries in just 10 minutes, which allows you to complete the project very quickly. To avoid bubbles on the paint job, ensure each coat completely dries before applying the next one. 

It’s best to paint when the weather is moderate, as low humidity can prolong the drying time. 

After the last coat, allow the project to air dry for at least two days before use. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Quick-drying formula.
  • Covers really well.
  • Comes with a built-in primer
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
  • It can be used on different materials.

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Has a strong smell.

2. Best for Versatility: Krylon Fusion All-In-One

Like the ColorMaster, the Krylon Fusion works for a variety of materials. But it’s even more versatile. It has a primer built into the formula and bonds to all surfaces, including difficult ones like plastic, tile, and PVC. 

As the name suggests, the paint can be used independently without sanding or priming the surface beforehand. It delivers the best-in-class adhesion and offers maximum rust protection on metal surfaces.

We found the spray very easy to use – thanks to its Easy Push, Big Button Spray Tip, which allows you to spray comfortably at all angles, even upside down. 

The paint goes on smoothly and covers well. Specifically, each 12 oz. can cover up to 25 square feet, which is two times what you get with most cans of the same size. So, it saves you both time and money. 

The drying time is 20 minutes, but wait at least 2 hours before applying a second coat. We recommend applying several light coats instead of one heavy coat to avoid drips. Also, don’t spray too close or too far from the workpiece. 

Ensure the surface is clean and dry before painting. 

The paint is available in different colors and finishes. 

As earlier indicated, there’s no need to use a primer. However, we suggest using one or at least wiping the trim with acetone. 

What We Like πŸ‘

  • Requires minimum prep work
  • Wide color selection
  • Covers really well
  • Comfort spray tip to reduce finger fatigue.
  • Can be used for different surfaces.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • A bit pricey.

3. Best for Budget: Rust-Oleum 271920 Automotive Acrylic Enamel

The Rust-Oleum Acrylic Enamel Spray is another product that works great for PVC. As the name suggests, it is an acrylic formula, which makes it ideal for PVC trims. Specifically, it’s best suited for exterior trims since it contains enamel. 

Like the Krylon Fusion, it’s an all-in-one solution, which means it contains both paint and primer. It covers twice as fast as most regular spray allowing you to complete the project faster with less paint. Each 12 oz bottle covers up to 12 square feet. 

While no primer is required to use the paint, we still recommend priming the surface for better adhesion.

The spray is easy to use and goes on smoothly and evenly with no drips. The width of the tip makes it comfortable and helps to reduce finger fatigue. The nozzle can spray at any angle, making it easy to reach tight corners.

The paint has a thin texture but doesn’t run unless you overcoat it. So, try not to spend too much time in one spot. The drying time is 20 minutes, but it takes about 4 hours to completely cure. We recommend waiting at least a day before you use the item.

Clean the spray paint nozzle after use to prevent clogging. Remove it from the can and soak overnight in hot water or a suitable solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner.

Overall, this is one of the more durable options for PVC trim. It is very affordable and can be used for a wide variety of projects, including craft projects and general painting. 

It is available in different colors and finishes. 

What We liked πŸ‘

  • It can be used indoors and outdoors
  • Provides long-lasting protection
  • Resistant to moisture and scratches
  • Doesn’t require a separate coat of primer
  • Offers a wide color selection

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Coverage is not that great (similar to regular can

Do you need to prime the PVC trim before painting?

Compared to surfaces like wood and MDF, PVC is more stable and less absorbent. So, it’s possible to paint it without priming, especially if it’s new. However, priming is generally recommended as it provides additional protection, which is great for exterior trims. 

Also, a primer will help the paint to adhere better and ensure you get an even finish. Most of the time, one or two coats of primer will be enough.

You can also achieve good adhesion by wiping the surface with acetone or denatured alcohol. 

Tips for Painting PVC Trim.

  • Spray paint contains VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can be harmful when inhaled. So always wear a respiratory mask and cover your hands with gloves. 

  • Ensure the area you’re working is well-ventilated. This will help reduce the impact of the fumes. Ideally, you want to work outdoors. 

  • Remember to clean the nozzle each time you use the spray. Either detach it from the can and soak it in turpentine or turn the can upside down and spray till nothing comes out. 

  • Proper surface preparation is highly recommended. Make sure the surface is clean and dry before painting. 

  • Apply the paint in a continuous sweeping motion. Don’t spend too much time on one spot to avoid drips. Your hand should be moving before you press the trigger. 

  • For better coverage, spray the PVC trim at different angles. Spraying in just one direction can leave patches on the paint job. Always do a test spray before moving to the main job. 

  • Allow complete drying time between coats to avoid bubbles or crackles. Also, make sure the primer you’re using is compatible with the spray paint. 

FAQs – Painting PVC trim?

Can you paint over the existing paint on PVC trim?

Yes, you can. But first, you need to prep the surface properly. Remove any chipped or flaking paint, then apply appropriate primer. It’s also a good idea to sand the surface lightly to help the new paint adhere better. 

How long does spray paint last on PVC trim?

Unlike wood and its composites, PVC trim doesn’t contain moisture. This allows the paint to last longer on it compared to other materials. Specifically, paint can last 3-5 times longer on it than wood and similar materials. 

What is the best primer for PVC trim?

Any primer can be used for PVC trim as long as it’s compatible with the paint. In most cases, a good-quality acrylic latex primer is recommended, especially for exterior PVC trims. These products are often described as “stain-blocking” or “universal.” To be on the safe side, always check the label to be sure it’s meant for PVC. 

Can you paint interior PVC trim?

Yes, you can. But the surface needs to be prepared correctly, and you need to use a paint that is formulated for PVC and indoor use. Avoid using oil paints as they contain high VOCs, which can be harmful when used indoors. 

Can you paint PVC trim a dark color?

We recommend avoiding dark colors when painting PVC trim. This is because dark colors absorb more heat, which may lead to warping. It’s better to use light to medium-colored paint; a light color is ideal. Proper surface preparation is necessary to get the best possible finish. 

Final Thoughts – Painting PVC Trim

To conclude, yes, you can paint PVC trim, and it’s actually quite easy once you have the right tools and preparation. Besides choosing the right paint, you will need to take steps to prepare the surface. 

This usually involves cleaning the surface and applying an etching agent, which could be acetone or a plastic primer. Make sure the area you’re using is well-ventilated, and wear proper protective gear. 

Overall, painting your PVC trim is a great way to change the color to match the rest of your home. 

We hope you found the article helpful. Let us know if you have any more questions about painting PVC trims, and we will be glad to help. 

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