Interior House Painting: Should I Start with the Walls or the Trim?

 Interior House Painting: Should I Start with the Walls or the Trim?

Interior house painting involves many decisions, from paint sheen and color to the kind of roller cover you use. One of the decisions that many do-it-yourself painters need to make is whether to start with the trim or the walls. Is there a best order of operations for this? How can you ensure your house painting project turns out as good as possible?

There is no single answer to that question that would satisfy every situation. If you are careful and methodical, your interior painting will turn out lovely either way. Here are a few factors to consider as you plan your project.

Interior Painting for New Construction or Remodeling

If the room being painted does not yet have the trim on the walls, either because it is new construction or remodeling, it is easiest to paint the walls before installing the trim. This way, you don't need to do the taping and cutting in, and just use the paint roller right up to the edges. If you are careful installing the trim afterwards, you have saved some time and effort.

Another way to save time and effort is to paint the trim before it is installed. Yes, there will be some nail damage to remediate after the trim is installed, but this can be minimal, and it can be touched up easily.

The Case for Starting with the Walls

One reason some interior painters choose to begin with the walls is that they can move quickly and use the rollers right up to the trim and baseboards. This saves the time and effort of taping and cutting in. Yes, some paint will get onto the trim, but as long as it is not drips or globs, it will be easy to paint over when you get to the trim.

Another reason to start with the walls is the general principle of working from top to bottom. This is done because it accounts for what gravity does with any drips or splatters: they always go downwards! If you start from the top and work your way down, then any stray paint droplets or runs will go onto areas that still need to be painted, rather than landing on finished surfaces.

The Case for Starting with the Trim

Many people use caulk to create a smooth, attractive seal between trim and walls. If this will be a step in your project, you might decide to do the caulk first, then paint the trim, and paint the walls last. Otherwise, the caulking process might cause a mess on the wall paint that requires a new coat.

In some cases, the trim in a room can be very complicated. There might be many windows, or complicated crown moldings, baseboards, wainscoting, or built-in cabinets. In a case like this, it can be simplest to tackle the the trim painting first. This allows you to be relaxed about getting a little paint on the walls. You don't need to do as much complicated taping, and you can just focus on painting the trim. After this, you can tackle the walls, which are simpler and quicker.

When to Hire a Professional

Any house painting project will require a significant investment of time. You need to purchase the tools and materials, repair and prepare the surfaces, protect the surrounding areas, and apply multiple coats of paint. Then, there is the waiting time, plus all the cleanup. If you make any mistakes, it can take quite a bit of time to repair the situation.

If your interior painting project is large or complicated, you might to best to work with a professional house painter. This way, you don't need to worry about what items to paint first, and the whole project is done with minimal effort on your part. Best of all, you are assured of fantastic results!

Williams Professional Painting

If you live in the Washington, D.C. region, including Maryland or northern Virginia, we encourage you to give Williams Professional Painting a try. Since 1979, we have been offering top-quality painting services to homeowners like you. With an emphasis on quality and customer service, we make the experience a pleasure!

Besides interior painting, we also offer kitchen cabinet painting, carpentry, exterior painting, deck maintenance, and much more. Use our online contact form to schedule your free interior painting estimate, or contact our office by phone. We look forward to meeting you!

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