What are the specific properties or style of paint that one needs to use for trim. By "trim" in this case I mean mainly baseboards and baseshoes.

The reason I'm wondering is that I used the left style of paint ("all-in-one primer and sealer") and the middle one ("interior ceiling flat"). I understand that I need to look for something called "trim paint", but the closest I can find is the third style "paint & primer in one". In this case they're all from the same make.

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Is the third style "interior semi-gloss enamel, paint & primer in one" indeed the one I should be using for baseboards and baseshoes, and is the idea then for baseboards/shoes to be somewhat shiny (semi-gloss), hence something like a primer & sealer, despite being up there in whiteness, would not look right?

  • I now have an empirical answer. Glossy paint on baseboards is a (big) mistake. Glossy surfaces attract the eye, when your objective is for everything else to be visible but reduce the attention of the eye to a surface, such as baseboard, that will by necessity be marred—sooner or later—by scratches. Advice: paint mat, or at most semi-gloss. When it gets dirty, wipe it off. If it can't be wiped, it's time for another layer. – Calaf Aug 1 '17 at 19:23

Primer or primer/sealer is only necessary if the surface has not been previously painted (the question does not state whether or not this is the case) or for certain specific situations with "problem" surfaces.

Trim (like door/window casing, baseboards, etc.) are usually treated with a coating that has some sheen (gloss, semi-gloss) to facilitate easy cleaning and for resistance to scuffs and marks. Trim boards exist to protect walls and surfaces from scuffs, marks, and impact damage in vulnerable areas, hence the likelihood of receiving such and the necessity for more durable finishes.

  • Combination paint & primer products, IMO, are a gimmick to send more of your $ to the paint manufacturer's shareholders wallets. – Jimmy Fix-it Nov 19 '16 at 5:48
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    Indeed, the best primers are a different category - oil based like Kilz original, or epoxy based like is used on boats. Epoxy can penetrate deep and cure in place, since it does not need air or moisture exposure to cure. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 19 '16 at 17:21

The purpose of trim is to provide a harder, more wear-resistant surface than the normal plaster or drywall, which is easily nicked. It is placed in sills and other vulnerable locations subject to corner hits or handling.

Flat paint is used because it's more aesthetically pleasing.

However, latex paints have "taken over the market". Flat latex paints attract dirt and are hard to clean without marring the paint. Glossy latex paint is much easier to clean.

So the workaround to this cheap/latex problem is to use glossy paints on trim.

If you really want a flat paint which is easy to clean, it definitely exists in the marine and industrial world, notably 2-part linear polyester urethanes (used on yachts, airplanes and water towers). They typically come as a mirror finish hyper-gloss paint, and you add a flattening additive to taste.

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