Floor Or Walls First? How To Finish A Gutted Room!

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Home renovations are a mess. There are so many things you have to consider. Things like what should come first, the floor or the walls? To get more specific, which of those should be addressed first in a gutted room? If that is what you are wondering, we have the answers for you!

The general answer to almost any situation is to do the flooring first. Installing flooring requires work and tools, depending on what type of flooring material you are using. If you do the walls first, the process that goes into installing flooring can leave many moments where you can damage the work on the walls. At best, do most of the prep work required for the walls before you install the flooring.

There is more to know about the topic. You might be wondering, why does the flooring come first in most situations? What are the pros and cons of doing the flooring first? If you would like to know all that and more, keep reading ahead.

A modern interior design of big living-kitchen studio room, Floor Or Walls First? How To Finish A Gutted Room!

Why Flooring Comes First

Installing flooring should come first in the renovation process. The reason why is because the floor is simpler to cover than the walls. To get more specific, if you are done with the flooring and want to start painting the walls, there is not much to consider when covering the floor. You can use a painter’s cloth or sheeting to prevent paint from splattering and messing up the ground. Additionally, you would need to ensure the material you are using to cover the floor is smooth and contains no abrasives.

On the other hand, if you paint the walls first and then do the flooring, there is more to consider. You have to cover the walls, which can be harder to do than the floors. Depending on the type of flooring material you are using, the tools necessary for their installation can bump into the walls and cause damage during the process. Adhesives might also splash and get on the walls, leaving you with more work to fix. Lastly, if your flooring requires sanding or cutting, dirt and debris can build up on the walls.

Installing hardwood tile walls on floor

When Is It Appropriate To Do Walls First?

House attic insulation and renovation

As mentioned, the type of flooring you choose can influence which step goes first. In this case, if it is easy to install, you can choose to paint the walls first. Easy-to-install flooring does not require a lot of time to work with, leaving less room for dirt build-up.

Additionally, depending on the type of paint you use, it might take time to cure. So, to save some time, paint the walls first and then install the easy flooring.

Another instance where you might want to do the walls is if you do not care about messing with the floor. At this stage of the process, everything is barebones. You are less likely to be stressed if you can paint freely. However, the paint will stain your floor, so be cautious.

When Is It Appropriate To Do The Flooring First?

Home painter is painting walls with paint roller

Like the choice of flooring, your choice of wall paint also matters. There are five different types of wall paint that you might go with:

  • Flat
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi-gloss
  • High-gloss

They come at different prices and qualities. Homebuilders commonly use flat paint. It is a paint that is cheap, easy to reapply, and provides the least amount of shine. If you want to do the walls first, settle for flat paint. This way, once you are done installing the floor, you can hide any blemishes by reapplying a new coat of paint.

As you move up the list from satin to high-gloss paint, it gets harder to hide imperfections. That is in addition to them being more expensive. If you are using those types of paint, installing the floors first would be a better choice.

A worker installing hardwood floor in an American upscale home

Similarly, the flooring you choose is another factor to consider. For example, hardwood flooring can take up to seven to 10 days to install. There is an acclimation period before you can install the hardwood floors. In cases like these, getting the flooring done first is the best decision.

Laminate flooring also takes some time to install (four to five days). But, you can choose between installing the flooring or painting the walls first. Other types like vinyl plank flooring take one to two days to install. In this instance, you can paint the walls first. However, you will have to be extra careful not to cause imperfections on the walls.

Do You Install Drywall Or Subfloor First?

Installation of a subfloor from sheets of plywood and OSB

It might not seem obvious but, you need to install the subfloor first. Installing drywall should be one of the later steps to do. Drywall is a material used to create walls and ceilings. However, before you install drywall, there are other steps required to do.

Installing the subfloor is part of the framing stage. It lies on the floor joists to form a base. After this process, professionals like plumbers and electricians need to route the wiring and plumbing. To install the pipers and wiring, they will need open access.

Once installed, there is a little left to do. You will need to put the roof on, install the windows and doors, and install insulation. Once you have crossed all of these off of your checklist, you can begin to install drywall.

Do The Walls Go On Top Of The Subfloor?

Before working on the walls, you need to work on establishing a floor base. This process requires setting down floor joists, installing a subfloor, etc. Once you are over this process, then you can begin to work with the walls. Since you need to establish a floor first, walls go on top of the subfloor.

If you are in a situation where you need to replace the subfloor, it is possible. But, you will need patience as removing the subfloor while the wall rests on top of it is difficult. So, if you want to replace the entirety of the subfloor, you need to remove the walls first.

Should You Paint Or Put Flooring In First?

Bucket of paint and brush on wooden stairs

There are various situations where you can go either way. Your choice of paint can influence your decision to paint the walls first. On the other hand, the flooring you choose can make it so you have to install flooring first. However, the consensus is to do the flooring first.

By getting the flooring installed, you can avoid ruining the work you have done on the walls. Additionally, it is easier to cover the floor to avoid paint splatter.

What Comes First, Trim Or Flooring?

Light matte wall with tiles imitating hardwood flooring

As mentioned before, the flooring will have to come first in most cases. There are exceptions to this. Trimming is one of them. However, if you have to decide between flooring and trim, you should install the floor first. If you are hiring a contractor, they will have their preference and might install the trim first.

In either case, trim covers the gap between the bottom of the wall and the floor. The trim is there to prevent the drywall from receiving any damage. More specifically, it is there to prevent liquid/moisture from seeping through into the wall. A small spill that makes its way into the drywall can ruin the wall’s integrity.

If you are wondering whether carpet or baseboards should be installed first, read our post here.

Final Takeaway

There are so many factors to consider when you are remodeling your home. Not all situations are the same. So, it is essential to narrow down our choices to instances that apply to us. That way, we can avoid the pain of having to re-do the process. We can also avoid having to do unnecessary clean-up.

Before you go, we also cover other topics. If you are wondering how to convert an attic into a living space, read our post here. We hope you found the article informative and insightful. Until next time!

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