Managing the painting of your rental property can save hundreds of dollars over the life of the unit. Anything that can prevent having to repaint after a tenant vacates is money in your pocket. Maintaining the wall and trim paint will keep a rental unit rented and produce more rent.
Selecting the right paint is the first and most important step. Off- white walls in a satin or flat finish are the best choice. There are hundreds of whites and selecting one with a little pigment will make it easier to touch up and maintain. Darker colors are harder to match and fade over time. Using off-white paint will keep your rental neutral and not cause a conflict if a prospective tenant has wild or brightly colored furnishings. It’s a good idea to select a popular brand of paint in a stock off-white color which makes it easier for a tenant to find and makes it readily available. Always document the brand, color and location to buy the paint you choose. It is a very good idea to leave a gallon of paint in your rental at all times to allow a tenant to touch up as needed.
Paint all of the walls the same color. Mixing different paints in bedrooms, halls and living areas gets very confusing when trying to touch up. It is OK to paint high moisture areas such as bathrooms and kitchens with a semi-gloss paint which is more resistant to moisture and easier to wipe down. Again, keep to the off-white colors. Trim and woodwork should also be painted in semi-gloss and using a pure white paint will be easily matched and complements the off-white walls well.
Tenants should be expected to fill nail holes and touch up the paint when vacating their rental. Documenting the condition of the walls and trim when a tenant moves in makes it easy to see what damage has been done while the tenant rented the unit. Nail holes can easily be filled with a tube of spackle, found at any home improvement or paint store. Magic Eraser works wonders on hand prints and wall smudges.
Having the correct paint available for the tenant to touch up is so important to insure the walls are maintained and will not have to be repainted between tenants. Be sure to thoroughly stir the paint before painting. Apply the paint to only a few spots or areas at first and allow them to dry before proceeding through the entire house. After the paint dries, check to make sure the color matches and the patch or touch up has blended with the paint on the wall. A huge mistake is to assume the paint matches and continue to touch up the entire house only to find out it dried a different color resulting in an expensive total repaint.
If there is no record of the paint used, a small sample can be cut out of the wall with a utility knife and taken to a home improvement store or paint store and have a computer match made of the paint. This is not foolproof and again the match should be tested on a small area and allowed to dry before proceeding.
When painting over a darker paint or a heavily soiled wall, prime the wall with a good high hiding primer before painting the finishing coat. This will insure the paint will cover without the old paint bleeding through. Also use a primer if you are painting over higher sheen paint (flat over semi-gloss). The lower sheen paint will usually not adhere to the slicker finish.
-J. Matthew Scheel | Owner of Sundance Rental Management, Inc.