Do I Paint Exterior Trim Or Walls First?

Which Do I Paint First Exterior Trim Or Walls


Do you first paint exterior walls or trim? Well, you're almost there, having prepared everything up to this point. Knowing which area to paint first, walls or trim, will be extremely beneficial to overall work flow you have in front of you.

Choosing which area of the exterior to paint first, will also lessen hours you spend, also adding to the professional painting results when you finish.

Giving you a few trade secrets, painting exteriors, depending on a few topics, you too will know which area you must tackle first and foremost. These paint trade tips will help you know which areas to paint first, then second.

painting tools and equipment you will need for each exterior area, making this job go as smoothly and uniform, as the paint you are about to apply.

Painting Walls Or Trim First?

If You Are Painting Exterior, Tools & Equipment You Will Want

Painting tools and equipment are many, each having it's own purpose, serving a certain type of painting. If you are painting an exterior, basically you will need both hand tools, and power equipment.

This reminds me of two instances several years ago. Having an home improvement business in Texas, relocating up here to Denver in January 1990. Soon afterwards, buying a home in a subdivision which all homes were mostly Cedar Siding. A local homeowner was the association's painter, slash fix-it man, who contracted most of the work. We will call him Larry.

Extra Amount Of Time Spraying Walls First

I observed Larry on several occasions, painting homes in the area, taking an untold extra amount of time, and yes he was spraying. Larry was spraying walls first, then masking the wall surfaces, spraying the trim, using an air powered cup gun.

Having to laugh under my breath, I kindly went over to talk to him during one of the next exterior painting jobs he was taking on. Mentioning using an airless paint sprayer, only having to refill it every 5 gallons, instead of a pint, is certainly the way to go.

Which Spray Method To Use, Obtaining Right Equipment

Be careful which paint spray method and equipment you use. Well, Larry had never heard of an airless sprayer, but thought that would certainly improve his performance completing the general portion, but went back, reaching for his Bink's cup-gun, turning his air compressor back on.

He slaved another six or seven days, spraying out only fifteen gallons of BEHR Solid Body Stain. Taking more time to mask what he had just sprayed, spraying the trim a different color.

Well, even though Larry had the will, being compensated for his efforts, he was doing it all wrong. This is when I knew there was an upward learning curve in my area, so when Larry and his family relocated to Florida the next year, I picked up, where Larry left off.

From then on, using a Gracco and/or Titan airless paint sprayers, spraying out walls first. Starting from lets say left to right, once finished, work back the other way, applying the second coat. Essentially one person can spray out an entire normal size home's exterior in one day.

Having a helper, keeping paint bucket full, moving ladders, assisting the painter, this can be done in half the time! Thank goodness for Airless Paint Sprayers, being the right equipment of choice, painting walls first.

Don't worry about getting a little over spray on your trim, while spraying the walls. This only adds to the amount of paint coating for trim. No need to mask with brown paper or painters plastic if you are painting the soffit the same color as the body, field, or walls.

Painting Trim Using Brush & Roll Method

Right after spraying walls, coming back using 4'' rollers for most flat areas of trim, brushing fine lines, this technique and method, decreases the time needed to paint an entire exterior. As long as soffit areas are the same color as walls, or siding, brush and roll method is certainly the way to go.

If not, and you decide to spray a different color, you must extensively mask, or cover what you just got through painting walls first. Use a 4'' roller, having a 1/2'' roller cover on gutters, fascia, window & door trim. Cutting trim paint in with a 3 1/2'' angle sash brush.

This makes me recalling an incident several years ago too, seeing the sense of humor afterwards. We contracted painting a homeowner's exterior here in Colorado, finishing up on time, on schedule. Walking up to the door, asking homeowner for a final walk-through, after painters had finished the day before.

Mrs. Smith came out on front porch, telling me she was so glad she chose Eco Paint, Inc. painting their exterior. Going on to say, glad choosing us instead of the painter who painted the home across the street. That person took 3 months painting, using only a brush of the smallest size.

Not sure why that painter needed to spend all summer long painting one exterior, but maybe there was an ulterior motive we both did not know. However, I do not know many reasons why any person would want to spend that long, knowing all the necessary paint preparations are needed, no matter how it's actually painted.

  • Spray walls two coats
  • Brush and roll trim, soffit, fascia, gutters, downspouts two coats

Which Area Trim or Walls Take the Least Time to Paint

Knowing there is much more square footage of area to paint walls than trim, typically 85-90% more than trim. One would initially think walls take longer, but that is not so. Timing is actually the flip-side opposed to the square footage.

Main reason for this is most trim is painted by hand, being a brush & roller method. As you might be aware, time is money, and the cost of painting only trim is much greater than painting the walls itself, in most cases, normally costing around 60% of entire house painting job. Yes, using less paint, painting trim only, but doing it correctly will require much more time on your part. Could go into this further, knowing there are at least 10 important tips of the actual cost, painting trim, but will refer you to cost painting exterior trim.


Here, we have sprayed the walls first, removing all the masking materials, cutting in all the trim. As you can see, painting walls first, then painting the trim is best served, even in this case, where the soffit is the trim color. Taking time, not getting in a hurry is your best advice. Knowing painting the trim, brings the exterior painting all together, completing the total cost of painting this exterior.

Painting Walls, Siding, Field, or Body Wins First!

There you have it, coming from a person having over 40 years painting homes, an authority in this field, having painted 10's of 1000's of homes over the course, voting on painting walls before trim in most cases.

You may say, "Well, mine has a lot of trim, like a Nordic look above". Really, the more the trim, the more the reason to paint the main portion, being the walls first. But, others may say, "Mine has very little trim". Same answer, paint your walls first, coming back later, another day, brushing / rolling out your trim.

You are embarking on a very multiple step process, painting your exterior. Knowing there are many steps before picking up the spray gun or paint brush, requiring several hours getting to actually painting, you also may find helpful reading important steps painting exterior home. I would pay close attention to the caulking section, where most attention is directed, when painting exteriors.

  • Power washing exterior, allowing to properly dry
  • Cover all areas not to receive outside paint
  • Scrape all loose paint
  • Sanding mil thickness differences
  • Fill gaps with caulk, exterior Spackle
  • Prime all bare wood, Spackle areas

Hope you've enjoyed the article, saving you time and money on your next exterior painting job, knowing which to paint first and second. Welcoming any comments from homeowners, or painters alike in section below.

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[…] Steps or preparations for wood siding painting are similar to those when painting a Masonite™, James Hardie™, or Vinyl exterior sheathing, as dry time may be the only exception. With any exterior, before picking up a paint brush, any exterior surface is best severed, power washing first. […]


[…] field color opposite, as well as trim. Even homes with more than normal trim, this technique, painting exterior wood siding walls first, then trim, works […]

Paint slayer
Paint slayer
1 year ago

Thanks cal you seem to know your craft quite well . Thank you for sharing