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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kowalski

What comes first when painting, walls or trim?

When tackling an interior paint job, it can be challenging to figure out where to start. Ceilings, doors, trim, and walls each come with a different color, texture, and sheen and the last thing you want to do is start over on a paint job because you didn’t follow the most efficient order of operations. That’s why we’re sharing some factors to take into consideration that will lead you to the best end result.

If you’re an inexperienced painter, you should consider painting the walls first.

  • You have a little more room for error. If you happen to get some unintentional splatter on the trim, you’ll have the opportunity to cover that up once it comes time to paint the trim.

  • It’s easier to “cut in” when starting with the sweeping strokes on the wall and then using a paint brush to get in close to those tight corners and crevices near the trim.

  • You receive the instant gratification of having the wall painted, which is always a plus, and it’s a good opportunity for you to take a step back and make sure you’re happy with the room color. If you decide you aren’t a fan, you may want to change the trim color to complement the new wall color.

If you know a thing or two about painting already, painting the trim first might be the way to go.

  • Pros typically start with the trim, ceiling and doors, and finish with the walls because it's easier to cover edges of baseboards, trim, and crown moulding with painter's tape versus covering the walls with perimeter tape. Pros will cut in with a brush on the walls where they meet the ceiling versus taping off the ceiling. It’s important to be especially careful if you’re taping off the ceiling because it can potentially damage the paint/drywall when removing the tape.

  • If the room is still under construction with items moving in and out of the room, you can use the time you have now to paint the trim and then paint the walls later once you know they won’t get scuffed up.

Tools + paint you should use before taking on the job:

  • For painting trim, we recommend the 3” Purdy Glide Angeled Sash Paint Brush. It works great for those tight corners and crevices.

  • For rolling interior walls, we recommend the Wooster Pro ⅜ inch nap. This nap style is great for lightly textured surfaces, including most interior walls. It provides an even spread and is easy to maneuver. For more information on which brushes and rollers we recommend for just about any paint job, check out our blog post “Best Brushes & Rollers to Use (with tips on how to clean them!).”

  • As for the best paint finish to use on trim, we recommend a gloss or semi-gloss since that allows the trim to “pop” against the flatter wall surfaces.

  • The best paint finish for walls, in our opinion, is eggshell since it provides a smooth, clean look on a mildly textured surface.

How you can expect us to do the job.

We, as professional painters, have a standard order of operations that has proven to be successful for us.

We typically like to spray paint because of its expansive and smooth coverage, and we use flat paint to spray the ceilings in most of the rooms. Then, we spray semi-gloss paint onto bathroom ceilings, trim, doors, and insides of closets. Semi-gloss is best for cleaning/scrubbing and repels moisture, so it's the perfect fit for a bathroom setting. Lastly, we brush and roll all the walls in an eggshell finish.

We purposefully spray ceilings, trim, and doors because it's necessary to achieve a smooth and even finish. Finally, we wrap up the job by rolling and painting, so it's easier to apply brushed on touch-ups later on down the road.

If you have additional questions about what to paint first, walls or trim, please feel free to reach out to us! We’re here to be a helpful resource. If you’re interested in receiving a fast complimentary quote, submit your information here.

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