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What Comes First: Wall Painting or Floor Refinishing?

Q: I'm planning to have the interior of my home painted and the existing hardwood floors refinished. Should we paint first and then finish the floors, or the other way around? Every contractor I've talked to has a different opinion.

—Joseph Bobitz, Hollywood, California

A: Tom Silva replies: You can do it either way. My painting contractor, Jim Clark, wants to be last so doesn't have to repaint baseboards that have been splotched with stain or ployurethane, or nicked by a sander. Besides, even the most careful flooring contractors inevitably leave a film of dust everywhere, he says.

My flooring contractor, Pat Hunt, sees things a little differently. He prefers to be last because floor finishes take a while to fully cure, so he doesn't want anyone walking on them even when they're covered with protective tarps. He also says it's pretty common for other contractors to damage or spill stuff on a finished floor. The way he figures it, it's much easier to touch up paint than a floor finish.

As the general contractor, I sometimes have the flooring finisher go first, and sometimes I let him go last. It all depends on what's best for the project schedule. I have that kind of flexibility because I know Clark and Hunt will put a lot of effort into protecting the other guy's work.

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