How to

How to paint architraves

Like the frame around a painting, architraves are an important design element in your home. While structurally they are purely decorative and don’t support doors or windows, they help add the finishing touch to a room.

Due to their contact with doors, architraves do take quite a beating – but luckily, they’re easy to repaint!

What type of paint should you use on architraves?

Resene recommends using an enamel-style waterborne paint such as Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel or Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel for architraves and other trims including windowsills, skirting boards and cornices. This is because these paints are extremely durable, and these surfaces are often subject to a lot of wear and tear. Resene Lustacryl and Resene Enamacryl are also much easier to clean than matte finish paints.

What order should you follow when painting architraves, walls and doors?

It’s easiest to paint the architrave after you have finished painting the wall. Wait for the paint on the walls to dry completely before tackling the architrave, making sure you mask up the edge of the wall to avoid the paint leaching onto the walls. If you are also painting your door, paint this after you have completed the architrave.

Choosing the right colour

Architraves are traditionally painted white or a neutral colour that is brighter than the wall colour, but there’s no hard and fast rule about this. If your walls and doors are a neutral such as Resene Double Alabaster, consider painting your architraves in a lighter shade from the same colour family such as Resene Half Alabaster. As you’ll be using Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss on the architrave you can create even more depth and contrast by choosing a matte paint for the wall such as Resene SpaceCote Flat. For a fun colour blocking feature, consider painting architraves in a contrasting colour or a darker colour than the walls and door. To make the door recede into the wall, try painting the architrave and door in the same colour.

Resene paint expert Murdo Shaw shares a few tricks of the trade to have you painting your architraves like a pro.


Wash and sand

Put down a drop cloth and wedge open the door so it’s out of your way. Clean your architraves using Resene Interior Paintwork Cleaner. This product is available in a ready-to-use spray bottle or a concentrated formula. It’s ideal for interior clean up jobs as it does not leave a film or residue and does not require rinsing with water.

Once dry, sand down the surface with 80 grit sandpaper to remove the gloss and wipe off sanding dust.



Use painter’s tape to mask the edges where the architrave meets the wall. Murdo has a special trick to avoid the paint bleeding under the tape – he suggests applying a line of PAL Zero Gaps down the side of the tape before wiping away the excess product with a damp cloth. This will create a handy seal to stop your paint seeping beneath the tape. You may also need to mask up the door strike plate and the hinges.



Apply a coat of Resene Quick Dry primer to the entire architrave using a brush. Allow to dry before filling any holes with Resene EzyFill Quick. Once the filler has dried, sand with 80 grit sandpaper, then remove any dust with a clean, dry cloth. 

Spot prime any areas that have been filled in, then give the surface a final sand and dust – now you’re ready to paint.



Using a good-quality paintbrush, apply two coats of either Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss. Murdo used Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss tinted to Resene Deep Slate. 

When painting your architraves, start from the middle of the top of the architrave and work your way out. When you get to the door frames on the sides, use long flowing brushstrokes covering the entire length of the timber. Allow the first coat to dry before applying your second coat.

Top tip: Resene Lustacryl is a waterborne enamel paint which can be used in areas traditionally reserved for solventborne enamels. This highly durable paint is non-yellowing and fast-drying with easy water clean-up. Suitable for exteriors and interiors, Resene Lustacryl is also available in a Resene CoolColour formula to help keep your paint and surface cooler.



Once your final coat of Resene Lustacryl has dried, remove your masking tape and admire your work.

Remember to make sure the architrave is fully dry before you close your door. Opening windows so the air can circulate will help your paint dry.

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