Interior trim questions

I'm in the process of having my basement finished and the only item remaining is trim. The walls have been painted and the carpet has been put in. This sounds like it's out of order but I wanted to take my own time and do the trim myself (unless I happen to get a really good price for the labor). I will be purchasing pre-primed MDF trim to match the rest of the house. The base, however, will be wood since it will be on concrete. Before I move forward, I wanted to clear up a few things:
1) Not being an expert painter, I was thinking of painting the trim before cutting and installing it and then just touching it up at the joints. I will also caulk the gap between trim and wall and joints over the paint. Does this make sense or should I cut, install, caulk and then paint (may have to touch up the walls after I'm done)?
2) I wanted to use a semi-gloss off-white paint. Any suggestions for good paints that will require the least number of coats? What about good brushes if I decide to paint after installation and try to "cut-in" the paint instead of masking?
3) I will be using 7" base molding and the electrical outlets are positioned horizontally about every 8 ft and low so they end up in the center of the base. Are there any tricks for figuring out exactly where to cut out the openings. I was planning on coping the inside corners to make this a little easier.
4) Would an electric finish nailer work or should I invest in an air powered one? Any suggested brands which would be cost-effective?
5) The crown molding inside the tray ceilings will consist of 3 pieces set touching against each other. Any tricks to get the angles right?
6) I did get one estimate for the labor: 75 cents per linear foot per molding. So, for example, the 3 piece crown will add up to $2.25 per foot. Does this sound like a good price? I did an estimate and it came up to about $1800 for a total of about 2,368 ft of trim. The moulding will cost me about $2100.
7) Any other general suggestions?
Thanks!
--Rob
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pre paint it as you were thinking.

I use those 59 cent hog bristle brushes for many things...for paint on floor level trim its not a big deal..for fancy sash work you need a sash brush that holds a lot of paint and has finely divided end bristles.
Tell the paint store guy what you want...he will fix you up.

Lay the molding out on the floor so it contacts the electrical out let plates and mark it with a pencil...thats fool proof.

Get an air powered one. The electrics Ive used tend to be a little limp on the nail driving.

a little practice. Take your time.

I would have quoted you 3x the material costs included for a total of 6300 dollars .. the 1800 quote for labor is low as you will get for good work assuming the guy does good work.
Phil Scott

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Foo Man Choo SE wrote:

any dampness at all. No personal experience, but just told by a couple of carpenters who I respect.
Gary
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Foo Man Choo SE) wrote:

bang up the trim while installing. Remember you'll also have to fill, sand, and paint the nail holes, too, which takes away some of the advantage of prepainting.
Any decent latex *enamel* will look good. I'd recommend going gloss, rather than semi on trim (seems like it needs cleaning a lot more than the walls), but it's your choice. If possible, I'd also recommend spraying rather than brushing (a sprayed enamel looks drop-dead *sharp*), but you do what you can.
I'd move the outlets up, personally. I hate outlets set so low that I have to worry about kicking the plugs.
I'm not a big fan of electric finish nailers (electric brad nailers are OK, but you'll need a longer nail than that for trim). They have a habit of leaving the head out too far, which means you waste a lot of time going back and setting the nails.
Hope you own or can rent a good power miter saw -- they really make the job a lot easier.
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I have always pre-primed and put on the first finish coat, with any necessary sanding needed to have a smooth finish on the product. Sanding in place takes 3 times as long and much harder when on one's knees or up a stepladder. After installing, fill holes, try not to do a sloppy job that will need much sanding. Spot touch-up the areas that were sanded or marred. Apply one finish coat to top it all off. And you are home free.
I would not use MDF where it touches the carpet, it could soak up any moisture that gets into the carpet, and swell up.

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Thanks all for the great suggestions. Since no one saw any major issues with prepainting, that's what I will do -- it will be a lot easier for me. The idea of putting caulk after painting wasn't brought up by anyone so, again, I will assume there shouldn't be an issue. I will try to get a similar or matching color as the trim for the caulk and will have to be neat at it.
The idea of just laying the molding down and marking the receptacle locations is so obvious now that it's been mentioned. :) As for moving the outlets up, I want to keep the same look as the upstairs. Besides on 7+" base, it's not THAT low and looks more pleasing to the eye, IMHO.
I will use a good brush since I don't have enough unfinished space to use a sprayer.
--Rob
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