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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

“I highly recommend MB Jesse Painting to anyone looking for a professional team that does an impressive job. They are on time, efficient and clean up well each and every day they are on site. They pay attention to detail and listen to the needs of their clients. In addition, they give back to the community. A Five Star team all the way around.”

— Erin Troy

“M.B. Jessee painted the exterior of my Spanish house over 9 years ago, and they did such an incredible job that they are still getting referrals from me today. The paint is holding up perfectly -- there is absolutely no peeling chipping or any other deterioration. I still remember that my final walk-through list consisted of items written on one side of a 3x5 index card (and I'm REAL picky about my house!) However, when Matt and I did that walk-through over HALF the items were no longer an issue, as his team had noticed them first and they had already been resolved.”

— JoAnn Newcomb

“Just had MB Jessee paint the interior of our house and they did a wonderful job. They tackled some crazy wallpaper as well as painted some very high ceilings and walls. The whole process was quick and they did a great job! We are very pleased. I was also very impressed by the crew. They were very personable, kind and actually took pride in the work they were doing. In one of our conversations with the lead Ricardo, he actually told me he was very proud of how the rooms had turned out. I agree sir! It turned out great and it's not often you hear someone thinking of your home like they would theirs, and putting that level of work and quality into it. That made a huge difference in how I viewed this company. Ricardo, you were fantastic and thank you for the great job, we will be using you again.”

— Jeff M.
Danville, CA

“The painters at MB Jesse are top notch! Cesar's team was super friendly and helpful. They were very polite and accommodating. Their expertise in everything painting related was evident in their attention to detail and efficiency painting tricky spaces. The apartment looks brand new!”

— Adam Swisher

“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

“High quality work from a pleasant and qualified staff. Thank you!”

— Paul Markovich

“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

“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

“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

“Julie, by the way, I have never been so impressed with the service of a painting job before! It was like magical elves came and painted our walls without us having to do a thing! It looks amazing and just wanted to let you know how happy we are. Thanks”

— Anja
Piedmont

“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

“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