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Should I Paint My Walls or Trim First?

Should I Paint My Walls or Trim First?

When approaching an interior painting job, homeowners sometimes wonder whether they should paint the walls or the trim first. If you were to survey house painters, or to browse painting forums online, you would quickly learn that this is a hotly debated topic. Some people with fiercely contend that the only right way is to paint the walls before the trim, while others vehemently assert that the trim must absolutely be painted before the walls! So, which is it?

The truth is that each person is going to need to consider his or her situation and try it one way or the other. It is truly a matter of personal preference, so the best thing is to discover which one your preference is.

In order to help you, we have a few painting tips to give you an idea why some people choose one method or the other:

Why do some people paint the trim before the walls?

Some people prefer to do the longer, more detailed work first, then the big open areas after. Painting the window trim, door trim, crown molding and baseboards is definitely a more detailed, time-consuming project than rolling the walls.

"Cutting in" is the process of using a brush to paint a straight edge first, before painting the main part of a section of wall. Many home painters say that it is easier to paint the trim first, since you can do it quickly and not worry about "coloring outside the lines." When you paint the walls afterwards, you will simply paint over the mis-applied spots. The careful cutting in will be done in this second stage, when you can get clean lines and protect your painted trim with painter's tape.

Why do some people paint the walls before the trim?

When rolling the paint on the large, open wall surfaces, sometimes little specks of paint will splatter onto the trim. If you paint the walls first, these little blemishes will be covered over when you paint the trim.

Usually, the walls will be flat or satin finish, but the trim will be semi-gloss. It may be preferable to paint the walls first with the lower-sheen finish, then the trim afterwards. This is because a higher-gloss paint may show through from under a lower-gloss paint if you do the trim first and get any paint on the walls. But if you do the walls first and get wall paint on the trim, this will not show through when you paint the trim.

General tips for painting interior walls and trim

  • If you are going to paint the ceiling, definitely do it before you paint the walls.
  • Use a brush for the trim and for cutting in on the walls. Use a roller for the big, open wall surfaces.
  • Use high-quality painters tape to create straight lines. Make sure paint is all the way dry before applying tape to it.
  • Allow the paint to fully dry before you remove the tape, and use a razor knife to cut along the painted edge of the tape before removing.
  • As a general rule, start from the top of a wall or trim piece, and work your way down. This prevents drip problems.
  • Always plan for at least two coats of paint. One coat rarely looks as good as two.
  • Listen to music that you enjoy as you work!

Professional interior painting in the San Francisco Area

MB JESSEE is a professional painting contractor, serving customers in San Francisco, East Bay, Oakland Hills, Berkeley, Alamo, Hillsborough and more. For best results in painting your walls and your trim, give us a call!

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