Many of my customers are redoing their floors and painting, and the smart customers ask whether it’s best to do the floors first or paint first.
Many are surprised by the answer…and they are glad they asked.
And, it’s one of the most common mistakes I see. It often causes rework and costs the customer money.
So, to preface this, it somewhat depends on what type of flooring you are doing (as well as demo), what condition your walls are in and who is doing the painting.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Assuming that you are getting the work done professionally, it is usually better to do most of the painting AFTER the flooring and most of the prep work BEFORE the flooring.
The ideal is to first do any prep work to the walls – e.g.ripping up wall paper, sanding and patching walls, etc. The reason for that is that this can damage the floors.
Also, it’s often better to paint the ceilings first, especially given that the ladders will rest on the floors.
From there, you should rip up the floors. Note: rip up can often result in minor damage to walls and base boards. If just carpet is being removed, this can scuff of the base boards. If tile, hardwood or laminate are being removed, this can often result in base boards needing to be removed. Removing base boards from the walls will usually result in paint chipping (so it would be a shame to do this after you freshly painted the walls).
Sometimes, the new height of the floor and base boards are different, and this can result in a gap on the walls where there is no paint…hence another reason to paint afterwards.
Next, you install the floors. If it’s prefinished hardwood, you just nail it in and then take care of the baseboards/quarter round around the perimeter of the room. If it’s unfinished hardwood, then you have to sand and stain the floors. This process will usually result in scuffing up the baseboards and some stain on the sides of the base boards. Hence, the base boards need to be painted afterwards. Occasionally, the sanding process will result in minor scuffing to the walls as the guys maneuver the machines.
Most of the painters I work with prefer to paint the walls AFTER we have completed the flooring. They are confident that their guys will cover the floors and do a neat job. They want the finished product to be perfect and they know this is a better way to achieve this result. It is also avoids having to come back for a separate trip to paint the base boards.
We have also worked with some painters who prefer to paint first, and then they will come back and touch up afterwards, but I believe the above outlined process is usually the ideal as the work product is the best and it takes less time.
I worked with many customers that did not realize this is the ideal sequence of events. Sometimes, they just painted. It’s too bad, because now they have to either pay the painters to come back again to touch up and repaint base boards, or else they need to do the work themselves. It’s too bad, since it would have been avoidable if they had asked the contractors.
Now, if the homeowner is the one painting, I will usually advise them to paint first (since they are less confident in their abilities and more likely to damage the floors) and then paint the base boards after we do the floors. Also, I have seen many variations on this theme (e.g. prime and do first coat of paint, then floors, then last coat of paint and base boards).
I wanted to share a VERY helpful video from Sherwin Williams, with some quick and super useful DIY painting tips. It’s just 2 minutes and covers types of brushes and painting techniques. Also, towards the end of this article, I share the painting tools and accessories that we use (with links to buy them on Amazon).
Sherwin Williams and Pottery Barn Painting tips for DIY homeowners
Do you need to paint your home in Westchester County?
If you live in Westchester County NY, I offer color consultations to advise customers on paint colors and stain choices. My designer discount at the paint stores usually more than offsets the cost for the hour consultation. Read more here. Due to popular demand, I’m now offering phone consultations as well.
Other helpful resources:
- Hardwood Flooring Trends
- Carpet, Runner and Area Rug Trends
- Recommended cleaning products and accessories to maintain floors and reduce scratches.
- How to prevent scratches in your hardwood floors.
For more info, check out my Ebook – Discover the 6 Secrets to Refinishing Hardwood floors.
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors