Should Painting or Flooring Come First?

There isn’t always a right or wrong way when it comes to home remodeling.

That’s what we learned when one Angie’s List member asked what should come first during a remodeling project: painting or refinishing hardwood flooring?

The issue divides many highly rated service providers, with some saying it all depends on the logistics of that particular project.

“Either or,” says Timothy Fudale, owner of Bellamax in Thornwood, New York, on picking the best method. “We’ve done it both ways in the past.”

The Case for Painting First

Greg Spivey, owner of Greg Spivey Remodeling in Indianapolis, says paint can wreak havoc on a recently refinished floor.

“There’s a risk of damaging the floors by spilling paint,” he says. “Sometimes, you’ll have to touch up the base trim if you do the painting first.”

Fudale adds there’s also the potential of spilling paint thinner or scuffing the floor with a ladder.

“It can be hard to get paint thinner off,” he says. “If you do the floor first, put something down to prevent the paint from dripping.”

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The Case for Flooring First

Fudale says dust caused by sanding hardwood floors can create a mess in a newly painted room.

Also, “When you paint first, workers may hit the baseboard or scuff the walls, and you’ll have to touch everything up. You may get polythermal splatters on the wall where you already painted.”

Bob Samson, owner of Handyman Matters of Greater Boston, based in Lexington, Mass, says he usually recommends renovating the flooring first. You can always touch up on any baseboards afterward if there are scuff marks, he says.

“That way, any final carpentry, such as baseboard moldings, can be completed at the same time,” he says. "Sometimes painting will be done first, but that means that the painters will have to come back for touch-up after the floors are done.”

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It Can Depend on the Job

Because every job varies, it’s important to contact a reputable home remodeling contractor, interior painter or flooring specialist to find out what works best for your particular project.

“We go by the job,” Spivey says. “Sometimes you have to go by the schedule and what type of flooring is involved and what else has to be done [cabinetry, countertops].”

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