Should I Paint Before Moving Into My New Place?

Should I Paint Before Moving In

There are several compelling reasons why you should not paint before moving into a new home. One is if the previous owners painted it recently and you love the look. Perhaps you won’t need to paint anything at all if the previous owner just did a stunning job painting every room in the house.

But, really, when does this ever happen? Hardly ever!

Whether you’re moving from across town or another part of the country, you should consider doing everything possible to paint the walls inside your new place. Yes, you might face some logistical headaches, but when will you again have the chance to paint free of furniture, knick-knacks, and general clutter?

Of course, you may choose to wait until you’ve settled in before doing any painting. That makes sense too. You might be more comfortable with the space, the lighting, etc., and have all your furniture and enhancements placed where you want.

Painting a home’s entire interior all at once takes some thought and planning, especially if you’re working at a distance from the new location. So we’re here to help you strategize for moving into a new home and figuring out the best time(s) and ways to get it painted properly.

Table of Contents

Why Paint Before Moving In?

Painting a Room Before Moving In
Painting a room without any furniture (or pictures on the wall, or counters full of things) in it can be 10x easier than with.

Some will argue that waiting to paint until you’re settled is conducive to a more cohesive space. You will be more confident of what will match the room furnishings and how light throughout the day is a factor.

All true.

But what if you lack the time, energy, or space to move things around? Again!

If you’ve hired someone else to paint for you, you’ll have unfamiliar people working in your home, even when you can’t be there to monitor their progress. What if it’s just more convenient to paint before moving in when only the floors need covering (not all the furniture and tchotchkes) and the trim masked?

As time passes, we all get tired of our home’s interior wall colors and room designs, so if we stay in our homes long enough, there will be plenty of chances to repaint to reflect current trends.

If you’re nervous about taking risks with paint colors at the start, why not choose warm neutrals for the first round of painting? Then you can ease into bolder hues in the future.

A white, off-white, or pale gray shade can double as a primer and still look great by itself.

Planning a Painting Project Before Moving In

Planning a Painting Project
Painting yourself will save you some money, but be prepared to put in some time and effort!

You have two distinct choices when it comes to painting the inside of a home before moving in. One is hiring a contractor, which eases your workload considerably but costs more. Or you can do the painting yourself, which is economical but potentially exhausting if there’s a whole home to paint.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Option 1: Hiring a Contractor

Know the basics of hiring a painting contractor. But also look for those who go above and beyond to accommodate you.

The last thing you want in your new home is sloppy paintwork, such as forgetting to “cut” the ceiling edges (i.e., not covering errant strokes of color on an otherwise white ceiling). It’s something amateurs often do, but the pros should know better.

Do you want painters who fulfill even your unspoken wishes?

Many painting contractors work with interior designers (sometimes having one on staff). So for a long-distance move, you would do well to send photos of your furnishings and planned room design months ahead of the move to get recommendations and paint swatches.

The more specific you can be about what you want, the better the job will turn out.

Option 2: Doing the Painting Yourself (DIY)

This option is for those who plan meticulously or those who wait until the last minute for everything. If you’re in the first group, you choose and purchase your paint and accessories well in advance (or at least know what you will buy upon arrival).

Those in the second group will start planning after all the painters are already booked. They think, “Well, it’s now or never,” and dive into the process, hoping for the best.

Either way, you will save at least some money, maybe a lot. Plus, you will get to test paint samples onsite to make sure they’re the right color(s) before you go ahead with the whole project. It would be even better if you could round up some help from family and friends if your move is a local one.

If you’ve moved to a different place, why not hire some day workers?

A couple of drawbacks to the DIY approach include being in a house with paint fumes. And if you decide to stay in the house (vs. going to a hotel or staying with friends), you will still need to spend a lot of time in a place with wet paint. No rest for the weary!

The always-present “DIY vs. hiring professionals” dilemma comes up in most moving situations: It’s not just house painters, but also house cleaners, landscapers, and the movers themselves. We would guess that the tiring and drawn-out moving experience makes hiring pros more appealing than it might in more everyday circumstances.

And we’re talking about situations where absolutely everything has gone as planned.

What If I Can’t Paint the Whole House?

Painting Edges
You don’t have to paint the entire house at once. Pick the room(s) that are a priority to you and get those painted. It will still save you a ton of time later on.

Perhaps you can’t afford the time or money to paint your whole house? After all, you’ve just gone through the costly and wearying process of moving your entire home! We’ve said that painting your house before moving in is time-saving and practical.

Still, you really needn’t do it all at once—especially if you have other pressing demands (like starting a new job).

Why not start with the more “public-facing” rooms: living room, dining room, kitchen, and bath? The bedrooms, family room, and other more private spaces can wait. Even if you aren’t ready to tackle the main rooms, hang some pictures and place plants or other knick-knacks on the tabletops.

Besides, what visitor wouldn’t understand that you just moved in recently?

Speaking of moving in recently…  Have your new neighbors stopped by yet? If so, you might use the occasion to solicit the names of reliable local painting companies, cleaning services, lawn maintenance, and other businesses you will surely need before long.

Plus, any guests will be pleased to have offered their recommendations. And they’ll be delighted if you follow up by hiring one of their referrals.

To Paint Now or Later? That Is the Question

Painting before moving into your new home is faster, cheaper, more convenient, and makes for easier cleanup. Plus, you can let the paint dry for a day or two, so it won’t be tacky and rub off on your furniture (and need touching up). But it offers these conveniences only if the homeowner has the time, money, and wherewithal to pull it off.

If you arrive at your new home before your belongings do, you might have a day or so to clean and paint. And since your beds probably won’t have arrived yet, you can enjoy staying in a hotel at the end of a long day of painting.

You’ll wake up refreshed and ready for another day. And maybe your stuff will arrive too.


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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