Tricks of the trade: Painting advice from a property manager

This week, as I’ve been painting two houses that are turning over, it’s occurred to me that I’ve picked up a few good pointers (many specific to being a landlord) that I’m happy to share:

  • Use the same paint color (including trim) on all your properties.  This will save time and many a headache!  Of course, when you first get a property and only need to touch up with the preexisting paint, this would not apply.  But when it’s time to repaint your property, why not simplify?
  • Keep some spare paint at your house, in case the movers “pack” the paint at the rental.
  • Label each can with the property address.  You’ll think that you’ll remember which paint goes where.  You won’t.
  • Photograph the paint formulas and colors.
  • Store the paint upside-down.  Seriously.
  • Invest in a canvas drop cloth.  They are so much easier to use than plastic or newspapers, and do a better job protecting surfaces.
  • Invest in high-quality paint, paintbrushes, and rollers.  These don’t have to be the most expensive (get recommendations).  The right tools make the job so much easier!
  • But also have a few throw-away brushes on hand.
  • Try the new angled brushes with short handles.  These are so much easier on your wrist!
  • Use painters’ tape.  I know that you’ll be careful.  And that you got straight A’s in art class, and your hands are so steady that you always won “Operation” as a kid.  USE THE TAPE.  The job will look professional, and the time it takes to apply will pay off when painting and in saved headaches.
  • While you’re at it, buy the wider painters tape.  It will catch more drips.
  • Use oil-based primer to cover up stains.
  • Clean the walls before you paint.  This can save time touching-up (some areas won’t even need to be painted), and the paint will adhere better when you still need to paint.
  • Your goal, for touch-up painting, is to do as little as possible.  The paint isn’t likely to match exactly (mainly due to fading on walls), so anything that can be cleaned away is a bonus.  If you do have to paint, use a light hand.
  • Instead of cleaning brushes and rollers each evening, wrap them up well in plastic and store in the refrigerator.   This really works!


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