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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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Customer Reviews

“It was a great experience working with MB Jessee. The crew was careful and thorough as they painted the house, sealed stucco cracks, repaired dry-rotted wood, stained the deck, etc. Robert, Gersson, Jose, and all of the people involved in the process from the estimate to the job completion were friendly and professional.”

— Mike C.
Livermore, CA

“In September, MBJessee finished painting two sides of our 3-story condominium building (six owners). We were impressed by the professionalism of the company and every one of its workers, Matt Jessee couldn't have been more helpful in planning the project. His painters were well-trained, easy to communicate with and eager to please. In addition to painting the stucco, they made extensive repairs on windows and frames, which will save us considerable money in the future. They finished earlier than anticipated, with as many as five men working on the job, and the scaffolding came down the next day. All of us were delighted with the results. Now my husband and I are looking forward to having MB Jessee paint our own apartment later this month. Matt and Gustavo (who will be our crew leader again) have explained how they will work to make the painting proceed smoothly while we're living here, and they have been endlessly patient with our protracted decision-making process. If you look at their website, you'll learn that MB Jessee is an exemplary company that takes good care of its workers as well as its customers, and contributes public service projects to the community. All in all, we can't recommend MB Jessee highly enough.”

— Jayne W.
San Francisco, CA

“MB Jessee painters are stellar! As a designer I've worked with numerous companies over the years, and MB Jessee is a top-notch firm. From the first phone call to the final clean up, every person is courteous, professional, and hard working. The owner, Matt, is a charitable leader who has instilled his team with integrity and honesty providing the customer with a first class experience at a fair price with a paint job that is guaranteed to last. I highly recommend MB Jessee. Thank you Matt and your STAR crew-Daniel, Rigoberto, Vicente, Edy, Pedro, and Mario, for a job well executed! Cynthia Brian, ASID, Starstyle® Productions, llc”

— Cynthia Brian
Morgan, CA

“The people at M.B. Jessee are great – from the painters to the office staff to Matt. Talk about leadership from the top.”

— Kevin Ames, Mark Becker Homes

“The entire MB Jessee team is courteous, efficient and professional. From scheduling and estimating to the crew managers and crew, they all did an excellent job on a small (but complicated) two room project in my house. I'm already thinking about getting them scheduled for the next project in the spring.”

— Cari Cheney

“Thank you for the support you have given the Women's Cancer Resource Center over the past year!”

— Margo - Director Women's Cancer Resource Center

“Awesome work by highly experienced, professional painters. They were: Conscious about the amount of time it would take. Ours had a lot of pre-work and took 3 weeks. Accommodating when we added a few last-minute changes Understanding when a heatwave hit and we remove some of the plastic sheeting over windows, which they had to put back up the next day. Accessible, especially the on-site crew (Hi Jose & Victor!) -- always answering questions and checking in. The end result is a perfect paint job that makes our 94-year-old house look brand new. I would definitely hire MBJ again”

— Stacey R.
Oakland, CA

“The completed 'Client Satisfaction Survey' we sent in only modestly reflects our total satisfaction with the work. As a retired small business owner, I compliment you on setting 'best practices' that are consistently followed. Everything described in your marketing materials was a reality! The crew is a super bowl team and our neighbors commented on how quiet they were. We are very happy to be a client of MB Jessee.”

— Richard
Orinda

“We just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the work of MB Jessee Painting and your employees. Everything turned out beautiful. Our foreman was great! He was punctual, professional, neat and very accommodating ... and went the extra mile. We will definitely recommend you to our friends and family.”

— Michelle & Rivers Gee

“The finish on my kitchen cabinets had failed, becoming tacky and grimy around the handles. M B Jessee gave me a reasonable quote, far below some others, and did an outstanding job, striping the original varnish and refinishing with a new lacquer finish. The cabinets look like new. Work was done 1 day faster than estimated. The crew was extremely hard-working, considerate, and neat. Highly recommend M B Jessee.”

— Thama B.
San Francisco, CA

“Dear Matt,You must be so proud of your men! They were fantastic to have around. Polite, courteous and hardworking. I am so pleased with the outcome of our home--in fact, I couldn't be any more pleased than I am!”

— Mrs. S
San Leandro

“Today I received a beautiful bouquet from your company. It was totally unexpected and very much appreciated--a lovely surprise. Also today, your crew finished my job. I am so pleased with all their fine work. Richard is absolutely amazing and a total delight to work with. He was also extremely helpful during the paint color process. The interior work in my home far exceeded my expectations. A big thank you to you and the crew for an outstanding job. Thank you, thank you for a terrific job!”

— Barbara
Piedmont