What do I paint first?

Which surface do I paint first? Wall, ceiling, or trim?

I'll share with you my preferred method for the speediest, cheapest, and most professional results.

Do you have an interior painting project but you’re unsure whether to paint the walls, trim, or ceiling first? Here are a few things to consider before you jump right in.

Let’s assume that you want to paint all surfaces: ceiling, walls, and trim. Also let’s assume that you don’t have all week and you want to finish this project in 1-2 days max. Also, I’ll assume that you need to coat each surface 2 times. And finally, I’ll assume that you chose different paint products for each surface.

In this scenario I like to paint in the following order:

  1. Trim - 1st coat

  2. Ceiling - 1st coat

  3. Walls - 1st coat

  4. Drying time …

  5. Ceiling - 2nd coat

  6. Walls - 2nd coat

  7. Drying time …

  8. Trim - 2nd coat

I like to start and finish with painting the trim for 3 reasons. First, trim paint is typically a higher gloss so it takes longer to dry. But by starting with trim it’s usually dry enough by the time I get to the walls that the paints do not bleed together where the wall paint meets the trim paint. Second, by painting baseboards last I can cover any little specs of paint that may have fallen from the ceiling or walls with the final trim coating. Third, it saves time and materials by not having to shield the baseboards with tape when painting the walls or ceiling. Why the ceiling then the walls? It’s harder to cut in with the brush on the ceiling than it is on the walls. You can work more quickly and be less precise when you’re using the brush on the ceiling and then simply clean up that paint line at the joint of the wall and ceiling when you apply the final coating to the walls. Also, working from ceiling to walls will allow you to cover up any other mistakes that may have transferred to your walls while painting the ceiling. These mistakes may include specs of paint that are flung from your brush or roller, or, accidentally hitting your roller against the walls when rolling the ceiling. Hope this helps. Happy painting!

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