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Do You Paint Walls or Trim First? A Comprehensive Guide

Do you paint the walls or trim first? This post shares a few tips and tricks on which paint order might work for you.

It’s no secret that I like to paint furniture. After all, the bread and butter of this blog is painting furniture. As much as I hate to admit this, I really don’t love painting walls. I have, however, learned a few things along the way like “is there really an order to how to paint a wall and trim?” Maybe… I’ll try to explain more in this post.

to paint walls or trim first

Some people prefer to paint the walls first, while others prefer to paint the trim first. Those who paint the walls first believe that it is easier to cut in the trim after the walls have been painted. They also feel that it is easier to cover any mistakes on the trim when painting the walls. On the other hand, those who paint the trim first believe that it is easier to tape off the trim and protect it from paint splatters when painting the walls. They also feel that it is easier to achieve a clean, professional look when the trim is painted first.

All this to say; painting walls or trim first is ultimately a personal choice.

painting pre primed paneling

Let’s first discuss a few things about how to paint a wall or trim.


Before you start painting, it is important to prepare the room properly. Proper preparation ensures that you have a smooth and hassle-free painting experience. Here are some steps you can follow:

  • Clear the room: Remove all furniture, decorations, and other items from the room. If you cannot remove them, cover them with plastic sheets or drop cloths to protect them from paint splatters and drips.
  • Clean the walls and trim: Use a mild detergent and warm water to clean the walls and trim. This will remove any dirt, grime, or dust that may interfere with the paint’s adhesion. Rinse the walls and trim with clean water and let them dry completely.
  • Repair any damages: Inspect the walls and trim for any damages such as cracks, holes, or dents. Use spackling paste or wood filler to fill in these damages. Sand the repaired areas until they are smooth and level with the surrounding surface.
  • Protect the floors: Cover the floors with drop cloths or rosin paper to protect them from paint drips and spills. Secure the drop cloths or rosin paper with painter’s tape.
  • Mask off areas: Use painter’s tape to mask off areas that you do not want to paint such as baseboards, window frames, and door frames.

Preparation is an essential step in the painting process that should not be overlooked. By following these steps, you can ensure that your painting project is easier.

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Walls or Trim First?

One of the most common questions when it comes to painting a room is whether to paint the walls or the trim first. The answer is not straightforward, as it depends on several factors, including personal preference, the type of paint used, and the condition of the walls and trim.

If you are using the same color for both the walls and the trim, it is generally recommended to paint the trim first. This is because it is easier to cut in the edges of the trim against the wall than the other way around. Additionally, painting the trim first allows you to fix any mistakes or drips on the wall without having to worry about getting paint on the trim.

If you are using different colors for the walls and the trim, it may be better to paint the walls first. This is because it is easier to paint the edges of the walls against the trim than the other way around. Also, painting the walls first allows you to see how the color looks in the room and make any necessary adjustments before painting the trim.

Advantages of Painting Walls First

One of the main advantages of painting walls first is that it allows you to cover up any imperfections in the wall before painting the trim. This can help ensure that your finished product looks neat and professional. Also, if you make any mistakes while painting the walls, they are much easier to fix than mistakes made while painting trim.

Advantages of Painting Trim First

Painting trim first has its own set of advantages as well. For one thing, it allows you to get a better idea of how much paint you will need for each area before starting work on them. Also, if there are any gaps between the wall and trim after they are both painted, they are much easier to fill when painting trim first.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to paint the walls or the trim first comes down to personal preference and the specific circumstances of your painting project.

Tips for Painting Walls and Trim

Here are some tips to help you paint walls and trim:

  • Use painter’s tape to protect the wall and create a clean line between the trim and the wall.
  • Choose the right paint: For walls, choose a paint that’s specifically designed for interior walls. For trim, choose a paint that’s designed for trim and doors. These paints are formulated to provide a smooth, durable finish that resists chipping and wear.
  • Use the right tools: For walls, use a roller with a medium nap to apply the paint. For trim, use a brush that’s designed for trim work. A 2-inch brush is a good size for most trim work.
  • Paint in natural light: Painting in natural light will help you see any imperfections in the paint job and ensure that you’re getting a smooth, even finish.
  • Take your time: Painting walls and trim requires patience and attention to detail. Take your time and make sure you’re applying the paint evenly and smoothly. Don’t rush the job, as this can lead to mistakes and a less-than-perfect finish.

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If you are serious about painting your walls and trim, check out these paint color posts too!

Best Sherwin Williams White Paint products

Best Paint colors for Low Light Rooms

How to Choose the Right Type of Paint

2023 Best Greige Paint Colors for Transitioning Away from Gray Trends

Best White Ceiling Paint for a Clean and Bright Finish

Best White Paint for Kitchen Cabinets: Top Products Tested for a Brighter Space

Best Paint Color for Garage Walls


One of the most common questions that arise when painting a room is whether to paint the walls or trim first. After considering the various factors, I honestly think it depends on your personal preference, experience, and the type of project you are working on.

If you are a beginner, it may be easier to paint the trim first before moving on to the walls. This approach will help you avoid mistakes and ensure that the edges are clean and sharp. On the other hand, if you are an experienced painter or working on a large project, you may find it more efficient to paint the walls first and then move on to the trim.

I hope I helped you choose which one to paint first- walls or trim. As always, drop me a comment if you have any questions.


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