As interior residential painters, one of the questions we often get is whether to paint trim or walls first. This choice can greatly affect the efficiency and outcome of a painting project. Understanding the best approach can help ensure a smooth and successful paint job.

This blog post simplifies this crucial decision. It delves into the pros and cons of each approach, ensuring you make an informed choice that suits your skill level and project needs. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or preparing for a bigger renovation, this blog post will equip you with the knowledge to approach your painting project with confidence and efficiency.

Paint Trim or Walls First? Here’s What We Think

bedroom with trim


Why Sequence Matters

The overall quality and ease of your project hinges on the order in which you paint. Choosing whether to start with trim or walls can affect the amount of prep work and the precision required during painting.

The Case for Painting Trim First

Painting the trim before the walls can be a smart move for several reasons. Firstly, it allows for a more polished finish, especially around the edges. This method means you can apply paint to the trim without the stress of accidentally marking the walls. Any drips or splatters that land on the wall are no big deal – they’ll simply be painted over when you tackle the walls later. This approach is particularly helpful if you’re not very experienced with a paintbrush, as it forgives minor mistakes.

Another significant advantage of painting the trim first lies in the ease of preparation. When it comes to taping, it’s generally simpler and quicker to tape off walls than it is to tape off trim. Walls are usually larger and flatter, making it easier to get the tape straight and secure. This not only speeds up the prep process but also results in cleaner, more precise lines where the trim and walls meet. The result is a neater, more professional-looking finish.

Furthermore, by painting the trim first, you’re effectively setting the tone and style for the space. Trim often includes detailed work, and having it freshly painted can provide a clear visual boundary, helping to guide the subsequent wall painting. This method can also allow for a better assessment of how the final colors will interact, as the contrast between the new trim color and the old wall color can offer valuable insights into the desired ambiance and aesthetic of the room.

The Case for Painting Walls First

Many people prefer to paint the walls first and it’s easy to see why. This method covers the largest surface area of the room right away, giving a sense of immediate transformation and accomplishment. When you start with the walls, the impact of the new color is quickly visible, offering a motivating preview of how the room will look once the project is complete. This can be especially encouraging in larger spaces where the change is more dramatic.

Another advantage of painting walls first is the reduced need for precision around the trim. This approach can be less stressful, particularly for those who may not have a steady hand or are less experienced with detailed painting work. If any wall paint accidentally gets on the trim, it’s not a problem – it will simply be covered when you paint the trim later. This makes the painting process more efficient because it allows you to focus on covering large areas without worrying about minor slip-ups along the edges.

Furthermore, painting the walls first can inform your approach to the trim. Once the walls are done, you have a clear backdrop against which you can choose the best trim color. This can be particularly useful if you haven’t fully decided on your color scheme, as the completed walls can inspire choices for the trim that either complement or contrast effectively.

In addition, tackling the walls before the trim can sometimes make the overall project simpler. Since walls are usually painted with rollers, which cover large areas quickly, you can complete the bulk of the painting in a shorter time frame. Then, when it’s time to paint the trim, you can switch to smaller brushes for more detailed, controlled work, ensuring a crisp and clean finish.