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Should you Paint Trim or Walls First


Are you thinking about brightening up your space by painting the walls a lighter color? Do you want to make a dramatic impact with a bolder or darker color on one or more walls in your home? While painting even a small area of your home can be a messy project to contend with, it is a do-it-yourself project that most homeowners can successfully complete. To produce flawless results, however, you need to use the right strategy and techniques. With this in mind, should you paint trim or walls first?

The Never-Ending Debate: Should You Paint Trim or Walls First?

The question of painting the walls or trim first is an ongoing debate among novice and experienced painters alike. There are pros and cons to both strategies, so there is not a clear winner to this debate. While this is largely a matter of personal preference, you need to be aware of some of the thoughtful reasons for and against each option. The reality is that your preferred approach will impact your overall experience and the steps required to complete your project.

The Case for Painting the Walls First

When you ask should you paint trim or walls first, you understandably have a major project sitting in front of you. Would you prefer to see significant results from your efforts immediately? This can be motivating to some people. However, you will eventually need to circle back so that you can do the fine trim work.

painting walls first

With both strategies, you can generally afford to be a bit sloppier with the first step. For example, if you paint the walls first and some of the paint splatters on the trim, this is not a major problem. You will cover over the splatters when you paint the trim. On the other hand, if you paint the trim first, you do not have to worry about the intricate details until you follow up by painting the walls.

If you paint the walls first, you may still run painter’s tape along the trim to reduce the prevalence of splatters. By painting the walls initially, you may be able to paint right up to the tape line using the roller. In this way, most of the wall paint can be applied relatively quickly and easily.

In some cases, the walls may need to be primed and painted with one or two layers of the paint. If this is the case for your project, you could potentially save time by only focusing on the fine details during the last stage of the project when you paint the trim.

The Benefits of Painting the Trim First

While painting the walls first has its benefits, many people make a solid case for painting the trim first. If you paint the trim first, you may be less concerned about messy edges while you paint the trim. Painting the trim is rather intricate work because of how small the work area is, so the ability to be less precise with the edges at this early stage in the project may be preferred by some people.


However, if you paint the trim first, you will have to use painter’s tape to protect it from splatters while you paint the walls. You will also need to cut in over the walls, but some people find that this is easier to do than cutting in over the smaller trim pieces.

Painting the trim first can be more mentally challenging for some people. While the trim covers a very small surface area in the room, it can take a surprisingly long amount of time to paint. By tackling this project first, it may seem like the project will stretch on for an extended amount of time. Experienced painters know that this is not actually the case, but this line of thinking can be demotivating to weekend warriors.

The Importance of Quality Materials and Craftsmanship

The size of the room that you are painting, the colors that will be used and your personal preferences all play a role in determining which method is right for your project. Ultimately, however, you will complete the project with the same results. Choosing one method over the other will not guarantee that the results will be flawless. Only attention to detail, patience and a steady hand can do that.

Some people will look for shortcuts for a labor-intensive project like this. However, there are no shortcuts that will deliver beautiful results. Instead, you must utilize high-quality materials and supplies. Many paint projects will produce better results if you prime the walls first. In addition, painter’s tape should line all of the edges around the second work area. Regardless of whether you paint the walls or trim first, you must protect the first step of your paint project. The painter’s tape should be applied firmly and in straight lines. You should then use an old butter knife or another similar tool to press the tape down more firmly. Alternatives are to use a roll-on edger or a smear-on edger.

Will You Paint Trim or Walls First?

Now that you know more about the pros and cons associated with painting the walls versus the trim first, you can plan ahead for your project. Regardless of the method that you select, keep in mind that mistakes likely will happen. You can always cover up minor drips and splatters with more paint, so do not worry if you make a mistake.