Should I Paint or Do Flooring First?

If you stretch your memory back to high school math (and for some of us, that’s a long stretch!), you might remember the order of operations. It tells us where to start when solving a complex equation: first solve the part in parentheses, then apply the exponents, and so on. If you do it in the wrong order, your numbers aren’t likely to turn out correctly. Well, home renovations also have an order of operations, which requires completing the flooring before painting.

Flooring Before Painting

When redecorating a room, people often wonder, “Should I paint the walls before or after I replace the flooring?” A.G. Williams, as a professional painting and remodeling contractor, recommends finishing the flooring first, be it carpet, laminate, tile or hardwood. This often surprises homeowners, who ask, “but won’t you spill or drip on the new floor if you paint afterwards?” With a few basic precautions, however, this objection is outweighed by the benefits.

Why Should I Do My Flooring Before I Paint My Walls?

One important reason to install new flooring first is that when you change flooring, the baseboards will often need to change position. For example, if you switch from a thick carpet to a modern laminate floor, your baseboards will need to be lowered by 1/2 or 3/4 of an inch. If you have already painted the wall, this change will ruin the finish, and you will have to re-repaint!

Another significant consideration is wall damage. While carpet installation is notorious for causing scrapes, nicks and gouges on walls, any type of flooring is a hazard as it goes in. Even laminate floors require a mallet, and tile involves cement and trowels. Avoid the frustration of seeing a big scratch in your new paint, and do your flooring before you paint.

So How Do I Protect My Flooring When I Paint?

After you have installed your new flooring and adjusted the height of the baseboards, protect the floor with painter’s plastic or a good tarp. Use tape to secure the edges along the walls, being careful to create a straight, tidy line. If your new floor is carpet, put a wide strip of painter’s tape on the carpet, around the perimeter of the room. Then use a putty knife to tuck the taped carpet fibers under the edge of the baseboard.

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