I'm repainting a room. I'm removing wallpaper from the walls, and stripping paint from trim around doors, windows and baseboards. There's no crown moulding. I might repaint the ceiling, not sure yet.

What is a good order for stripping and repainting the parts? For example, should I do ceiling, walls, then trim? Or should I do trim first? Should I strip the trim, then repaint everything? Or should I wait until after painting the walls before I try stripping the trim (will likely use chemical stripper-- I guess a risk is accidentally getting some stripper on the newly painted walls.)

I've read conflicting advice.

I'm not in a big hurry so can, for example, paint the trim and let it dry for a few days, then come back to do the walls.

  • 1
    From the replies below, it seems like it's just personal preference. It will take me a long time to get all the trim stripped (though I'm now thinking of renting or buying one of those IR heaters to strip rather than use chemical) so I might try doing the walls first then trim and see how that goes in one room, and maybe try doing it differently if it doesn't work for me. I'll try to get good brushes too! :) Oct 25, 2010 at 10:29
  • ...Since all three answers are "correct" I can't just pick one, but upvotes for all three. Oct 25, 2010 at 10:32
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    Seeing as your question was answered I wanted to share a quick tip with you. If you decide to paint the ceiling ensure to start at the opposite side of a window. This will ensure you see the wet edge of the paint on the ceiling as you roll and help to ensure full coverage without misses.
    – user4965
    Jan 19, 2012 at 3:56
  • @CapeBretonPainters that is a great tip, thanks! Jun 1, 2012 at 17:43

6 Answers 6

  1. Ceiling first, if you're going to do it.
  2. Strip the trim: it's a messy job and you will get stripper in places you don't want it. Actually, if you could remove the trim without damaging it, I would do that.
  3. Paint the walls.
  4. Paint the trim: you'll likely be using a small paintbrush on the trim, so it'll be easier to get sharp lines where it meets the walls.
  • 4
    If you can remove the trim, do it, and paint it separately. You'll need some touch-up after you re-install it, but it's a lot easier. Nov 11, 2011 at 20:04
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    If the trim is original/old/custom, definitely keep it, but if it's nothing out of the ordinary (stock profile from the past 20 years or so) probably easiest/safest/cheapest to just get new trim. Also, if you are just going to repaint it...you probably don't need to strip it.
    – DA01
    Jan 19, 2012 at 5:11

I find it easier to paint the trim first, then the walls. When you're cutting the wall in to meet the trim edge, you're brushing onto a nice flat surface so all you have to worry about is your line. If you paint the wall first, then when you paint the trim edges you're often contending with trying to paint a narrow edge (say on base or crown) and cutting a clean line at the same time.


You'll probably get a variety of answers but when I paint I do the walls first and then the trim. I did the trim first once and then when I did the walls I got roller splatter flecks on the trim and it looked splotchy. That may be just my painting style but I had to go over the trim again.


If the trim is in gloss and the walls are in water based paint, then it is often easy to wipe “errors” of the trim. Therefore I tend to do the trim first.

My painting skills are not good enough to allow me to “cut in” without having one or two errors to correct. I rather have to wipe the “roller splatter” from the trim than try to wipe gloss from the walls.

This depends on letting the trim dry very well before doing the walls.

I do all prep in a room before any painting so to control dust etc.

  • This is an excellent point. Feb 8, 2012 at 16:15

Generally, if you want the cleanest lines (or to create the illusion of a straight edge), you can use tape (frog or 3M blue) to mask. Plan to 'dominate' onto the surface not painted by about 1/16"; this will allow you to choose the order in which you do everything, because you will create a straight line on the edge of the color, no matter what.

However, the best tape for masking is expensive, and the tape can add time to your budget. If you can remove the trim, fine. If not, the process can and will usually be:

1) Ceiling first, if you actually do it, to avoid splattering

2) After trim is stripped, it can be primed and painted anytime, if you remove it. In addition to the order flexibility, you will not have to mask any of it (although most pros will caulk the trim once on, cut over the bead onto the wall before it gets its turn, and use the tape to create the line.

3) The temptation for some people in cutting walls along ceilings is to create wide cut lines, 4 inches or more. Depending on how proficient you are at smoothing out brush marks, and how high your ceiling is, this can either help you avoid hitting your ceiling or create ugly banding around the top of your wall. You can wear gloves and use the ceiling as a stabilizer for your cutting hand, keeping your cuts about two inches wide; three at absolute most.

4) Roll each wall as you cut inside the corners and along the ceiling. Some people will actually roll a wall one coat before any cutting, as tight along the ceiling and walls as possible, helping greatly with step (3), as it minimizes the cutting necessary (some painters will get within 1/2" of the ceiling, but don't try to be a hero, especially if textured or freshly painted).

5) The important thing to remember is that the final step on the second coat should be a finishing roll (after spreading paint as evenly as possible, gently and lightly run your roller sleeve top to bottom in a straight line with even pressure, overlapping each about 4-6 inches).

There are many ways to do it obviously (especially if you tape everything), but the way I described appears to be most common in my area. You can caulk and freehand cut the baseboard on the wall and get away with up to a 1/4" of baseboard color on the wall without anyone really noticing, but if you want hairline crack-free lines on the window/door trim, plan to caulk and mask the wall with delicate surface frog tape using the 1/16" domination rule I described above.

Just out of curiosity, why do you want to strip the trim? If you do remove the trim, consider a de-gloss/buff step, and use a can of KILZ or Bullseye/BIN 123 to base-coat; you'll solve 99% of all adhesion problems. If you choose to leave the trim on, just get the non-spray versions (unless you want to do lots of masking beyond just tape).


Texture over the wall paper then paint. It will take a long time to get the paper off. You will put dings in the wall. Ive tried every method.I do this for a living. Trust me, Ive seperated my shoulder doing this. Pull any piece off that may be peelng. Rent a hooper. Texture over it and use paint with primer.

  • 2
    Do this only if you want to really piss of the next owners. :) Paper will peel eventually and now the next owners have to deal with paper + texture.
    – DA01
    Apr 28, 2015 at 7:23
  • 3
    As an owner who inherited a house with not one but two layers of painted-over wallpaper, I think painting over wallpaper should be a criminal offense. Jun 4, 2015 at 0:20

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