Rental Property Painting Tips

Keeping costs at a minimum, and other assorted remedial advice

picture of painter

Hey there Mr/Ms. rental property owner!

Save yourself some money and paint your rental unit yourself. If you don't mind rolling up your sleeves and getting a little dirty, you'll be rewarded with the satisfaction of a job well done, and, on top of that, saving some money in the process. An added benefit is that you stay on top of your properties because you see them so often, and basically know whats going on with them at all times.

Even if you've been doing rental unit "turns" yourself, you'll still might might come across some great tips and tricks that could work for you on your next job.

It never hurts to keep abreast of some good information that might actually save you time, and money.

Allrighty then. Speaking of good tips..........

Paint Preparation

(note - read my page on paint preparation for more in-depth information.

When someone actually moves out of the rental property, you can bet, they will leave it a little (or a lot) dirtier than when the moved in. The trick for you is to be efficient. Do only the necessary work in the least amount of time, spend the least amount of money, while retaining high quality standards.

When beginning to clean out the unit, assess what you need to do in the order of importance, and efficiency. If you have major repair work (structural, electrical, plumbing), do that first. Painting rental property comes last. If there are no major repair/renovation type of activities, you're ready to (rough) clean and prep, paint, and final clean.

  • If furniture is left behind that is in reasonably good condition, clean it up and give it to charity (and gain a tax write-off). Don't just throw it away. If the furniture is in bad shape, by all means, have it hauled off ASAP.

  • Pick up all the garbage and all the other non-usable stuff, into a black plastic (at least 3 mil thick) "contractor" garbage bag. You can pick up some heavy loads with these bags. Unfortunately, rental property can be full of "stuff" from time to time.

    (working and painting in a cluttered area is very irritating to most people, as well as being unsafe.)

  • Clean the walls (and trimwork) of grease and grime first. See what you're dealing with before rolling some paint on the walls.

    Painting over surfaces with a lot of crud on them will only result in headaches for you down the road. Get it off the first time.

    Get in the habit of cleaning the surfaces as best you can. Don't spend too much time on this. Just clean and move on.

    (remember, your job is to get in, prep the rental property, paint, final clean, and get out as fast as you can. For every day you spend working, your losing money in the form of rent.)

  • ake all wall and switch plates off and clean.

  • Repair all the little holes and scratches in the walls that are always present after a tenant leaves.

    (doesn't it seem, the more holes you fill, the faster they appear)

  • Apply an oil-base primer/stainblocker on deep, black scruff marks (and other dirty, hard-to-clean areas) before painting.

    (this one tip could save you a lot of extra work.)

    Read my page on stainblocker for more detailed information when dealing with scruff marks, smoke, water, grease stains, pencil and crayon marks, and other generally yucky stuff.

    What Paint to Use In Rental Property, and When to Use It

  • There are several good contractor-type paints to choose from that are inexpensive, and can hold up to harsh treatment.

    Always use latex on all surfaces, because, in comparison to oil, it's cheap, easier to use, and much less mess to clean up.

    The main thing for you is, the low cost. It looks fine on the walls and trim, and you can touch-up much easier.

    I suggest using the five-gallon buckets of contractor grade latex paint (better than lugging around five 1-gallon buckets of paint!) for the sake of efficiency. Perfect for multiple rental property units.

  • Use one-color theme for all your rental property. For instance, I use the color "Antique White", with an eggshell sheen on the walls and ceilings in the bedrooms and living room. In the kitchen and bathroom walls (and ceilings), I use the same color, with the difference being semi-gloss sheen. The same semi-gloss is used on all doors, shelves, and trimwork as well.

    (using durable eggshell, and semi-gloss sheens allow for easy wash up, as opposed to trying to wash off something on a wall painted with a flat sheen. Hard to do!)

  • In using the one color scheme, you can use the same paint in any unit, at any time, over and over again. This makes repairs and touch-ups very simple to accomplish. Again, no headaches.

    And, just a thought......

    You might want to check out my page on painting with primer as your main finish coat for surfaces that suffer constant abuse. High-abuse areas such as closets can be easily touched-up with this method.

    Links to Additional Information and Articles

    Try this page for more great painting tips

    Not sure of how to paint something with a specific application? Try my painting procedures page for more detailed information.

    Try this page to quickly touch-up woodwork and base without all the hassle of brush, paint can, and paint roller pan clean-up.

    Click here for issues dealing with lead paint containment and abatement.

    Try this page for instructions on eradicating heavy, stale cigarette smoke odor and stains from walls, ceilings, and flooring.

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