Paint Walls Or Trim First

Ever find yourself conflicted, staring into the room wondering where to start. Should I paint walls or trim first? what is the best order to paint a room.

You could of course just hire the services of a professional painter. Before you do, let me explain how I paint a room and achieve professional consistent results day in and day out.

What About The Ceiling?

I’m assuming that we have painted the ceiling first, if the answer is NO, then we need to first finish painting the ceiling. Walls and trim are always the final areas of a room to be painted.

Painting ceilings can be messy work depending on the condition of the ceiling. Due to the potential mess, ceilings must be painted first. Thus avoiding any dust, dirt and paint spray from the roller sleeve sticking to the walls or trim below.

How To Repair Cracks In Ceilings

Now to answer the question above, should I “Paint Walls or Trim First”. While others may not share my opinion, I always paint the trim first, then the walls, but WHY?

Cutting in trim is a lot more difficult than cutting in walls. By following my method below I guarantee professional results with super clean lines.

1)  First prepare the walls filling any dinges, scrapes and holes in the plaster. I recommended Toupret Interior Filler, easy to mix, easy to sand, drys in 30 minutes.

2) While the filler is drying, it’s time to caulk the trim using Decorators Caulk. I always caulk the entire edge of the baseboards and surrounds of door frames hiding any gaps. Larger gaps wider than 3 mm will need caulked again as I find the caulk tends to sink into the gap.

Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Caulking Gun

Painters Tips: Smooth out the caulk using a damp cloth, wet the end of your finger, then run your finger over the caulk. Remove any excess using your cloth ensuring even distribution.

3) Sand walls thoroughly using a Pole Sander attached to an Extension Pole. For the woodwork use a Foam Sanding block, they are flexible and easily mold to fit the contours of the trim. I use 120 Grade Sandpaper for the walls and 120 grade foam blocks for the woodwork.

If you need to fill nail holes, mitre joints or knots on woodwork, I recommend using Toupret Ready Mixed Filler.

paint walls or trim first

4) Once the walls and woodwork have been prepared, it’s time to focus on painting all trim before starting to paint the walls. Previously painted woodwork must be undercoated before top coats. Newly installed trim must be primed unless it has been primed during the manufacture process.

Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer Sealer

Don’t worry about getting paint on the wall when painting the trim. As I mentioned earlier it’s much easier to cut the walls to the trim after. Plus, you can lay a thicker coat of paint on the top edge of trim sealing the caulking between trim and walls. Ensure that all trim is given two top coats with a light sand between each coat.

5) Wait 24 hours before taping off any trim, I use 38mm Scotchblue Painter Masking Tape for baseboards. The extra wide tape helps to act as a paint shield stopping any paint spray from the roller sleeve.

paint walls or trim first

6) To achieve a professional finish on walls requires a few essential painter tools 1) Hamilton Microfibre Sleeve 12 Inch 2) Purdy Fibreglass Extension Pole  3) Adjustable Roller Frame 4) Purdy 2.5 inch Angular Trim Brush 5) Mini Roller & Frame.

The tools above are what I use on daily basis, hamilton roller sleeves are cheap, leave a beautiful smooth finish and are easy to clean. When cutting in around trim using your purdy angular brush, it is good practice to back roll using your 4 inch mini roller.

Back rolling is the term used in the paint industry to describe the process of dry rolling the freshly painted surface with a short to medium nap, immediately following the application of paint onto walls or ceilings. Back rolling freshly cut in paint removes brush marks, this helps to give an even texture over the entire wall. 

Painter Tip: Cut in one wall at a time, then roll the wall, this helps to keep a wet edge and avoid lapping.

Once your finished painting the walls simply remove the masking tape from the trim, touch up if necessary and your finished.

Paint Walls or Trim First

Painting the trim first is definitely much faster than trying to paint the trim at the end. One key benefit to painting trim first, is the ability to tape off baseboards before painting the walls.

Generally the only area I tape of is baseboards as I find it difficult to see unless your down on your knees with your eyes level with the Baseboards when cutting in.

As for the remaining trim, I paint freehand, if you’re inexperienced at cutting in. I would recommend the Purdy 2.5 inch Angular Trim Brush, makes cutting in a breeze.

paint walls or trim first

When I’m in the US on holiday, I always make a point of calling into a Sherwin Williams paint store and purchasing half a dozen brushes.

Top 16 Essential Painter Tools 

Should I Paint The Walls Before Installing Baseboards

If your having a new wood, laminate or tiled floor installed, it is common practice to remove the baseboards. A common question I get asked is should I paint the walls before installing the baseboards.

The answer is NO, always install the baseboards (skirting) before painting. This allows you or a professional painter to fill and caulk the baseboards. As I explain above, there are many professional painters who follow the same method as myself and paint trim first before walls.

It’s my opinion that method above delivers superior results when painting a room professionally.

How To Paint A Room Like A Professional

Painters Tips: 

  • Leave decorators caulk for 1 hour before painting
  • Allow trim to cure for a minimum of 24 hours before applying painters masking tape
  • For cutting in walls use an angular professional nylon paint brush
  • Use scotchblue painter tape, cheap masking tape will tear (remove) fresh paint

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Hire a Professional Painter

If you happen to reside in the North Down area (Bangor, Newtownards, Holywood) and are looking to hire the services of a professional painter. Please don’t hesitate to contact me, Email: Andrew


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