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Painting the Walls or Finishing the Floors: Which Comes Last?


There’s a little interior designer in each of us. Not everyone has a creative job and our homes are really a part of who we are. So when it’s time to decorate a new home, or redecorate an existing one, we jump at the opportunity to unleash the creative genius within and get the decor we’ve always wanted.

Few home improvement projects are planned to the same extent as an interior decorating project. It starts with your vision of the décor and ambience you want when the project’s over. Then you have to find the colours, furniture and accessories that come closest to that vision. And that’s not to mention budgeting and any calendar dates that might restrict the time you have to get the job done.

Never-the-less, off you go, surfing the web, leafing through magazines, talking to the people at the paint and wallpaper store, scoping out your neighbours’ and friends’ homes – whatever it takes – to make sure your homework’s done before you start the actual work.

Every Do-It-Yourselfer Has this Problem at Least Once

If you have at all decorated a home before, you’ll know that there will be problems, so you’ll be prepared for something to happen. But, even after getting all the paint, stain, brushes, drop cloths, etc., etc., all lined up, few people are prepared for one of the most difficult questions to answer:

What Do I Do First?: refinish the floor/lay the carpet, or paint the walls?

There are potential disasters looming in each scenario. If you do the floors first, there’s always the potential for paint to fall on it, regardless of how careful you are at covering it up. And if you do the walls first, you could easily scratch them with refinishing equipment, or while laying carpet.

And the Answer Is …

Always paint your walls last – after you finish your floors. Here’s why:

  1. It’s easier to cover your floors to protect them from paint drips than it is to cover your baseboards to protect them from your floor stain and/or finish.
  2. You have more time to wipe up a paint drip from a finished floor or carpet, before it leaves any lasting marks, than you do to wipe a floor stain from wall paint.
  3. Quarter-round needs to be added to baseboards along walls after you finish your floors. If the walls were painted first, there’s a good chance that adding the quarter-round will leave a few marks, and you’ll need to at least touch-up the paint.

In the end, there’s no big mistake in finishing either your walls or your floors last. In all cases, you need to take as much care as you can – and be ready to handle the inevitable spills and smudges as quickly as possible.

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