The Great Debate Solved: Paint Cabinets or Walls First?

The question of whether to paint cabinets or walls first has been a long-standing debate among homeowners and DIYers. It can be difficult to decide which to tackle first, as each option has its own pros and cons.

The order in which you paint your cabinets and walls can greatly impact the final result. It is essential to choose the right sequence to achieve a clean and seamless finish.

The purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth analysis of the debate and to help readers determine the best approach for their specific situation. By understanding the factors to consider and the pros and cons of each option, readers will be able to make an informed decision and achieve a beautiful and lasting result.

Factors to Consider When Thinking Paint Cabinets or Walls First?

When deciding whether to paint your cabinets or walls first, there are a few important factors to consider. These include:

Type of Paint

The type of paint you plan to use can greatly impact the order in which you paint your cabinets and walls. For example, if you are using a water-based paint, it dries quickly and can be re-coated within a few hours. However, if you are using an oil-based paint, it takes much longer to dry and you may need to wait several hours or even overnight before applying a second coat.

Size of the Room

The size of your room is also a factor to consider. If you have a large room, it may be more efficient to paint the walls first and then move on to the cabinets. This way, you can move furniture and other items out of the way to make painting the walls easier, and then use the same space to paint the cabinets. On the other hand, if you have a small room, it may be more convenient to paint the cabinets first and then move on to the walls.

Furniture and Decor

Finally, the type and placement of furniture and decor in your room can also impact the order of painting. For example, if you have large pieces of furniture or heavy decor items, it may be easier to paint the walls first, before moving these items around. On the other hand, if you have smaller, lighter items that can be easily moved, it may be more convenient to paint the cabinets first.

Regardless of which order you choose, it is important to carefully consider all of these factors in order to ensure a smooth and successful paint job.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Painting Cabinets First


  • Easier to access the walls for touch-ups or second coats
  • Cabinets serve as a protective barrier for the walls during the painting process
  • No need to remove cabinets or move them around to paint the walls
  • Cabinets provide a stable surface for placing paint cans, brushes, and other tools


  • More time and effort required to thoroughly clean and prepare the cabinets for painting
  • Increased risk of drips and spills on the walls, which can lead to touch-ups or additional coats
  • Difficulty in painting behind the cabinets, especially in tight spaces
  • Possibility of smudging or damaging the walls while moving the cabinets back into place.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Painting Walls First


  1. Less Risk of Damaging the Cabinets: By painting the walls first, you can avoid the risk of accidentally splattering paint on the cabinets.
  2. Better Access to the Trim: Painting the walls first gives you better access to the trim, making it easier to touch up any missed spots.
  3. Easier to Cover Imperfections: If your walls have any imperfections, such as dents or scratches, painting them first allows you to cover them up before starting on the cabinets.


  1. Longer Drying Time: Painting the walls first means that you will have to wait for them to dry completely before moving on to the cabinets.
  2. Need for Touch-Ups: If you are not careful, the walls may get smudged or marked while working on the cabinets. This could require touch-ups later on.
  3. Increased Risk of Drips: When painting the walls first, there is a higher risk of drips forming and running down the walls, which can be difficult to clean up.

Tips for a Successful Paint Job

Preparing the Room: Before you start painting, it’s important to prepare the room. This includes covering all surfaces with drop cloths or plastic sheeting, removing any hardware from the cabinets or walls, and thoroughly cleaning the surfaces to be painted. This step is crucial for ensuring a smooth, flawless finish.

Protecting the Floors and Furniture: Protecting your floors and furniture is crucial in preventing damage from paint splatters and drips. Cover the floor with drop cloths and remove any furniture that cannot be covered. If you’re painting cabinets, it’s best to remove them from the wall and paint them on a flat surface, such as a table or workbench.

Cleaning Up After the Paint Job: Once the paint has dried, it’s important to clean up the room. Remove the drop cloths, replace any hardware you removed, and clean up any excess paint. This final step is important for ensuring the longevity of your paint job and maintaining a clean, attractive space.


In conclusion, the debate of whether to paint cabinets or walls first has been solved by considering factors such as the type of paint, the size of the room, and the furniture and decor in the room. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

Based on the analysis, it can be recommended to paint the walls first in most cases. However, the final decision should be made based on the specific needs and requirements of the project.

We encourage our readers to share their experiences and insights on the subject. Your input and feedback can help others make informed decisions when tackling their next painting project.