Without question, interior paint selection is a big deal in a rental property. If you only have one property, have fun, watch hours of HGTV and select colors that feel “warm and inviting.” Express your personality by giving off desired vibes while creating that perfect space. If you have more than one property, get real, turn off the TV and strike a balance between function and self-expression. Before you spend your money repainting what you don’t like, you have a few decisions to make. First, pick a main color. Second, pick a trim color. Third, decide on sheen or finish.

Pick a neutral color that will accommodate the furniture the tenants will be moving in. Oh, right, you have no idea what the tenant’s furniture will look like. You also don’t know what the tenant’s furniture three years from now will look like either. Your job is to pick a color that is not repulsive, not out of style, and maintains color while sitting in a can for years waiting to be used. Ladies and gentlemen, that color is gray. Use the same color in each room. In a rental property, remain neutral; don’t paint multiple rooms different colors just because you happen to like how it looks. You don’t want 5 cans of different paint on hand to do touch-ups. Stick with a single color throughout.

I know about tan. I also know about yellow. I have tried each of these and have found gray to accomplish more objectives from multiple stakeholders than any other color. I have moved away from tan because it doesn’t hold its color well over time. The tan wall darkens as the paint ages and then the paint you have been saving will appear too light when you are trying to do a quick touch-up. Yellow does not appeal to the masses. I have found as many people to despise yellow as people who love it. Then you get to hear applicants walking through the property whisper, “I don’t like this color.” Stick with gray. For my money, Repose Gray has never let me down.

For the love of the 1980’s already, paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. Not only does it look cleaner, you avoid having to cut in against a white ceiling. Paint the vents on the ceiling the same color as the ceiling paint. Painting those vents white accomplishes nothing. 

Secondly, you need to decide on a trim paint color. Generally, trim should be white. There are exceptions, remember to appeal to the masses. I have painted all of my trim Ultra White, but I would choose Antique White if I had it to do over. The important thing is that trim needs to be clean and crisp. Spend time to get trim lines even. Sloppy trim lines will ruin a room. Use painter’s tape and caulk liberally on trim work.

Third, let’s reflect on sheen (see what I did there?). Sheen refers to the amount of light that is reflected. Basically, you need to be aware of high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, and flat. If you have any degree of OCD in your family tree, do not use different paint sheens on the same wall. It gets worse, if you use any type of finish other than flat, your touch-ups will not match the original paint. If you paint a satin wall with satin touch-up paint, that new paint will “flash” and reflect light differently than the original paint. It is exactly for this reason; I strongly recommend painting all walls and ceilings with a flat finish. I know your brother-in-law says that flat finishes are harder to clean than satin and semi-gloss. In this singular instance, he is correct. In a rental property, it’s often easier to just paint over a heavily soiled area than to clean it. It’s easier only if you are using a flat finish. Trim is the exception, you need to paint trim with a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. Repainting trim is too labor intensive to repaint just because it’s dirty. Paint those doors the same color as the trim. 

It has taken me years and thousands of dollars to arrive at the paint conclusions I have just offered. I wish you could have seen the one house I painted yellow. Better yet, I wish you could have seen the next door neighbor’s face when she first saw it.

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