How to Paint Plastic Trim on Doors

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Sand the plastic trim to promote adhesion.
Sand the plastic trim to promote adhesion. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Many amateur painters attempt to paint all surfaces in the same manner, because they don't understand the importance of adhesion. Unlike wood, which is a porous surface, plastic is ill-suited for paint and will reject new finishes unless it is properly conditioned. If you are planning to paint the plastic trim on your door, employ the proper prep strategy, or it will inevitably reject its new finish. Once the trim is properly conditioned, you may apply a painted finish. Use a particular type of paintbrush, or the finish will dry flawed with brush marks.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based soap
  • Coarse plastic brush
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Masking paper
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Latex primer
  • 2- to 3-inch polyester paintbrush
  • Latex paint
  • Acrylic latex paint

Use a sponge to wash the plastic door trim with a water-based soap. Rinse the door trim, using wet rags. Dry the trim with towels.

Abrade the plastic door trim to promote adhesion. Sand the door trim until it feels rough. This is a critical step. Do not skip it, as primer won't stick to unabraded plastic.

Slide masking paper under the door and tape it down, using painter's tape.

Coat the abraded plastic door trim with latex primer, using a 2- to 3-inch polyester paintbrush. Brush with long strokes, applying gentle pressure. Allow the door trim to dry for two hours.

Use clean tap water to rinse primer from the polyester brush.

Coat the primed plastic door trim with latex paint, using the polyester paintbrush. Brush with long strokes, applying gentle pressure. Allow the door trim to dry for two hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use acrylic latex paint on exterior plastic door trim.
  • Do not paint unsanded plastic door trim, or flaking will result.
  • Don't finish plastic door trim, using a nylon brush, or the finish will dry flawed with brush marks.
  • Do not paint unprimed plastic door trim, or the finish will peel.

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