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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

“The kitchen looks NEW! You guys are amazing.”

“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

“Just wanted to let you know that the crew was great to have around the house for the past two weeks. All three of them were professional, courteous, and attentive to my thoughts/concerns and were extremely knowledgeable. They paid great attention to the detail and it shows.”

— Mark & Roberta Gross

“I had my wooden kitchen cabinets painted white. Anabal and Danielle were doing the job. I have nothing but praise for them. They came on time, cleaned up every day, were respective, friendly and helpful. If the rest of Jessee's crew are as great as Anabal and Danielle, this company will go far.”

— Anni S.
Oakland, CA

“Very easy to work with, they did an outstanding job with our project of re-painting our painting our kitchen cabinets. Given the scope of the job and that our kitchen is roughly half of our upstairs living area they did a fantastic job of minimizing the mess. Workmanship was top notch, would definitely recommend.”

— Vince Scola

“Matt, We are very happy with how all of the painting worked out. We were extremely impressed with the quality of the work in the bathroom. I liked working with Victor, he and Marvin were extremely conscientious about doing a great job, not just the minimum. I know the front door took a lot longer than you'd expected. But they did it PERFECTLY. We never thought it could turn out like that! Thanks again for the great work. We'll be calling you again in the future!”

— Craig
Alameda, CA

“My entire experience with MB Jesse was very professional. The crew were very friendly and super accommodating of my ridiculous schedule and geriatric pets in the house. The finished product, which was pretty much my entire house, far exceeds my expectations. Would definitely work with them again!”

— Heather Jordan

“MB Jessee just finished our exterior and we couldn't be happier with our experience. The foreman (Pedro) and lead painter (Ricardo) were incredible to work with: they communicated scheduling clearly, Ricardo was a joy to be around every day, the showed up early every day, were incredibly tidy and did great paint work. The final walkthrough experience was incredible. Pedro pointed out items I missed demonstrating a clear desire to complete another quality project. I highly recommend them. As others have noted they definitely aren't the cheapest but you quickly realize that you're getting what you pay for. The 3-year guarantee is also a nice touch since there are likely touch-up items that will show up after the job is done.”

— Joshua J.
Oakland, CA

“I want to express my thanks for a job well done. The rooms look great and there is no problem with any marks on the all the trim, floor, carpet, etc. The paint job is lovely. I also want to express my thanks for the level of professionalism the foreman showed in running the job. He was very attentive to any changes I needed to make, was extremely careful in getting the faux paint color and effect correct. Thanks so much for a job well done.”

— Suzan D’Arcy

“Hello Matt,Just another notice of thanks to your wonderful crew, Rigoberto, Javier and John. They did fantastic work, with Rigo providing meticulous and conscientious attention to the details and excellent woodwork finishing, as evidenced by the beautiful fireplace. Javier did a fantastic job in the bathroom especially, it looks "brand new," and John always does quality work, both with the interior and exterior. I can tell they care about what they do. Rigo's "punch out" was very thorough, too. I will call again when I need some more work and will definitely recommend your company and fine crew. I also felt as a homeowner, I could leave my house in their good hands during the day and that took a lot of worry from me, they were honest, prompt and reliable. They were also very kind, respectful and clean in their work, very professional. Thank you.”

— Beth Marx & Melissa Kirsch
Oakland

“I just wanted to thank you all for doing such a phenomenal job on our recent house painting. We are very happy with the outcome and can't say enough good things about the crew. Everyone working on the project was outstanding and made it a great experience. Thanks to everyone.”

— Daylan
Piedmont