How often should you paint your rental property?
Updated: Jan 11
Interior paint is a cost-effective way to give your rental some added visual appeal. Landlords will need to deal with painting rental properties at some point, but there lots of opinions on how often they need to be painted. For landlords who are trying to decide whether to hire a painter or to do it themselves, this article should help you think about paint.
How does paint affect prospective tenants?
I've owned rental properties for over ten years and I am learning how to find great tenants. Paint may provide the answer. Not just the look but also the smell of fresh paint on walls is highly attractive to higher-quality tenants. In fact, I would be wary of tenants that seem to be ok with walls that are in rough shape. Fresh paint provides a psychological boost for those coveted tenants as it is much more appealing than walls and trim that haven't had love in years.
How long does paint last?
The experts say that a professional wall paint job should last 7-10 years. This number is dependent on the quality of paint used. Mill Creek Painters typically uses high-quality Sherwin Williams paint. Remember that tenants are often rougher on walls than homeowners are, and enforcing that tenants don't put holes in the walls is much harder than it looks. In my experience, a good rule of thumb is to paint walls every three to five years, and to paint baseboards every five to ten years or as needed.
When and what to paint
Because painting is such a hassle for occupants and for the landlord, it is recommended to paint during a vacancy so long that it is at least three years from the last paint job. Painters require all furniture to be moved the the middle of the room, and our company requires at least 18" between all walls and the nearest object to be able to paint a room. Walls should receive two coats if they are being painted the same colour as before, or three coats if the colour is changing. We typically recommend an eggshell finish on walls as it hides most imperfections. For the trim and baseboards, three coats of high gloss will help keep them protected from sticky fingers and oils, as well as bumps and scuffs.
Other benefits of painting
Among others, it is much easier to complete the move-in inspection when the walls are fresh with few or no holes or marks on the walls. Of course, scuffs and chips are part of normal wear and tear and it might be a difficult case to try and withhold damages for these minor issues.
Deciding when to paint
All landlords have a lot of responsibilities, trust me I know! It's up to you to decide when to paint, but there is a balance between keeping the apartment looking fresh to attract great tenants, and not spending a ton of money every time a unit turns over. Here are some tips that can help you to decide if your unit needs to be painted:
Take note of the last time the unit was painted. If it has been more than five years, chances are it needs a paint job.
Assess the unit after the tenant has moved out. You'll get a good idea of any damage to the walls and which rooms need to be painted, if any. If the bedrooms appear fine but the hallway or the family room have some damage or worn paint, you can just paint those rooms.
Clean the walls. Often scuffs and marks will wipe right off, and magic erasers are a life saver here. Keep your focus on doorframes, window trim, and around light switches as these are both high-traffic areas and show prominently in any room.
Check the market for the area your property is located in. If it is a hard-to-rent area and competition is high, a fresh coat of paint may just be what you need.
If you have a renewal coming up, use it as an incentive to keep the tenant. Renewing walls is often all you need to keep tenants happy and proud of their home.
Should you hire a professional or paint yourself
The answer to this question comes down to time. In my experience, most laymen (no offense to landlords!) take three to five times longer to paint the same space as a professional painting company. The first reason is that most landlords are not professional painters and lack all the necessary tools and skills to speed up the job. The second reason is that laymen usually go room by room, a sure way to double your workload. If you have a lot of time on your hands, paint your property. Paint is relatively cheap, and to paint your place it will cost about $300 to paint a 1,000 sqft apartment excluding ceilings, and about 40 hours of your time. If you don't have that kind of time, hire a professional. It will cost about $2000 to paint the same place, but it will be done in two work days and you will be able to move tenants in and start collecting rent much more quickly!