The Best Order to Paint a Room

Confession time – I’m lazy. If there’s a shortcut out there, I’m going to find it.

Also relevant: I’ve remodeled many rooms. The living room. The kitchen. The entryway. This one wall of this room that will be remodeled soon.

If there are paint shortcuts, I’ve found them.

And that’s why I’m here to tell you that yes, there is absolutely a correct order to use when painting a room.

The best order to paint a room is 1) Ceilings, 2) Walls, 3) Door and Window Frames, and 4) Remaining Trim.

But there are some noteworthy reasons why, so keep reading!

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1. Ceiling

You always want to paint the ceiling first, for a number of reasons.

The first is probably obvious – ceilings are high up, and drips happen. It’s best to drip all over a wall that you’re about to paint then one you just spent hours painstakingly painting.

Secondly, ceilings are above your head, and often times you’re on a ladder to paint at least the edges. You have less control here than during pretty much any other point in the room-painting process.

Because of this, it’s best that any mistakes you make get painted over later.

It’s also worth noting, though, that you might not need to paint the ceiling. It’s a bit of a hassle, and really only worth doing if you want to change the color, or if the paint job is in poor condition.

If you do decide to paint, don’t cheap out and go for “flat” paint instead of “ceiling” paint. Ceiling paint is formulated to be thicker and less drippy, so that it defies gravity a bit better and doesn’t drip all over you.

I have made this mistake so you don’t have to.

2. Walls

Now, this one I actually think depends on the circumstance. I usually paint walls before trim, because it’s really all about which one you’re allowed to be a little bit sloppy on.

If you paint the walls first, you don’t have to be careful around the trim, because you’re about to paint it. If you paint the trim first, vice versa.

Most of the time, I opt to paint walls first, because when you paint trim, you’re usually using a brush anyway, and being careful doesn’t actually seem that hard.

Whereas with walls, I’m using a roller for the bulk of the painting. If I paint the walls first, I don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting the trim with the roller, so I can get closer than I would have otherwise.

This means less cutting in with a brush, and a more even final coat.

Plus, any speckles that fly off the roller and land on the baseboards will get painted over anyway.

The Caveat:

There was one time I painted this trim first. This room:

Room with pink walls and many windows with white trim.

So much trim, friends. And you can’t even see two of the walls, both of which had (beautiful) giant French doors.

I didn’t have it in me to be careful with that much trim. It came first, so I could accidentally paint the walls as much as I wanted.

3. Door and Window Frames

Yes, I am separating the trim into multiple categories. Door and window frames are above baseboards, and therefore come first, because when I’m working with a brush, paint drips happen.

Luckily, they usually land on baseboards and not on my freshly painted walls, but they’re still a thing to worry about.

So door and window frames get painted before baseboards. Any crown molding or ceiling trim could be done here too.

Also worth noting, is that I don’t usually tape off the edges. I’ve found that it’s faster and better to just paint carefully then to depend on painter’s tape to actually do its job.

The problem with painters tape, is that it really only works well on perfectly flat walls, and most walls (in the US at least) are textured. Meaning that paint bleed happens underneath the textured portions.

It’s easier just to use a detail brush to make sure I get paint exactly where I want it. Plus, if I do get a little paint where it’s not suppose to go, a wet rag wipes it right off.

I usually keep one next to me as I paint!

Pro Tip: If you do opt for painter’s tape, putting a thin layer of clear Mod Podge over the tape before painting can help stop the paint bleed.

Admittedly, I’ve never tried it when painting walls, but I use this trick all the time when painting furniture, and it’s great.

4. Remaining Trim

Once everything else is done, I tackle any remaining trim, which should just be the baseboards, but I figured I call it “remaining trim” just in case there was anything I forgot.

I’ve found the baseboards are usually fairly straightforward, and honestly, after a long day of painting, being able to sit down and paint is actually kind of nice.

And then once the baseboards are done, I’m done. And looking at a freshly painted room is my favorite part!

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