Do I Paint First or Put in Carpets?

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Paint a room before installing carpet to prevent damage to the carpet.
Paint a room before installing carpet to prevent damage to the carpet. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Home construction and remodeling projects often include installing carpet and painting a room. Carpet installers are concerned about wet paint damaging new carpet, while painters are concerned about scuffs and wall damage caused by the carpet installer’s tools. Professional workers use care not to cause damage, but a homeowner should consider several factors in deciding whether to paint or install the carpet first.

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Paint Spills

Despite the best intentions, paint spills and drips happen. Painting a ceiling poses the greatest risk of paint drips on the floor. Accidental paint spills on new carpet can be disappointing. Depending on the carpet’s fabric content and construction, the type and color of paint and the extent of the spill, it can be difficult to remove the paint from the carpet. Cleaning a carpet can be time-consuming and an expense the homeowner did not anticipate, as well. For these reasons, carpet installers often prefer that the walls be painted first.

Carefree Painting

It is easier to paint a room before the carpet is installed. If the walls are painted before the carpet and baseboards are installed, the painter can paint all the way to the bottom of the wall. If the carpet and baseboards are installed first, though, the painting process is slowed as the painter takes extra measures to avoid getting paint on the baseboards and the edges of the carpet where it meets the wall. While a professional painter puts down a drop cloth and still takes measures to protect a bare floor, paint spilled on an uncarpeted floor is easier to clean than a spill on carpet.

Wall Damage

Carpet installation requires tools that are placed against or near the walls to stretch the carpet. These tools can cause scuff marks on the wall and nick the paint. Tools in the carpet installer’s belt can also bump against the wall. If the walls are painted first, the painter might need to return after the carpet is installed to repair wall damage and touch up the paint. Because of this, some professional painters prefer to paint walls after the carpet is installed.

Experience

Because there are risks both to painting first and carpeting first, your decision rests with the experience of the professionals who will be doing these tasks. Ask the carpet installer and the painter what their preferences are. Ask others who have used services of these professionals whether there have been any problems with paint spills or wall damage. If you are painting a room and installing carpet yourself, painting first is most practical if you take extra care to protect the walls when you install carpet.

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