Interior painting - grey ceilings?!

9 Replies | Baltimore, Maryland

I've got a 3/2 "C" row home in the Middle River area, Section 8 (it's been well maintained by the same tenant for the last 7 years- she just moved out because Section 8 worked and she was able to save enough to buy a home of her own!).  

Typical wear and tear, now the place needs the interior repainted ASAP to get it back on the market.  I've been getting quotes for antique white throughout.  The quotes are running high because there are a few colored rooms that will need additional coats.  

Management co is saying their guy can do it cheaper, but they're recommending grey throughout, including the ceilings (?!)...  Their argument (just like mine with the antique white) is that bypassing corner work will save time and lessen the expense- sure, but a grey ceiling??  Also saying that grey will clean up easier and use less coats to cover the old paint in some of the rooms.  

Am I being too picky here?


I could see a very pale grey working, but wouldn't it give you the same problem as the white covering the previous colour?  If they use the right paint and clean and prep the walls properly, the previous colour shouldn't show through and should cover in one coat.  I had a dark red once and covered it in a single coat with a paint that was made to block the previous colour.

You aren't living in the house, but need it to appeal to people.  Can you ask them for photos of a place that they done this to?

Painting the entire place the same color makes it easier on the painter. They will come in and spray it all and be finished in an hour. It really shouldn't matter unless white increases rent over gray.

Depends on your standards. I have abandonned the "it's just a rental" mindset years ago and I see a clear difference in my portfolio - the "before" properties stand out, and not in the best way. Financially the difference is subtle at first, becasue you may not get higher rent, but you will get better tenants and it will generally rent faster. Better tenenat means less headaches and less cost at the next turn over.

If your mindset is "it's just a rental", don't be surprised if the tenant thinks the same way and treats it accordingly!

And after all, you are the owner of the asset (even though it's a C class) and anything you do will decide on the future value of your asset, tangables and intangebles. So I will say do it right, pick a nice color like SW Agreeable Grey, and paint the ceiling in a flat white like SW Snowbound White. It will make the rooms feel bigger and brighter for years to come.

Hi James,

What about desirability.

Sure the turn will be a little cheaper, but what if the unit sits un-rented for an extra month.

If it were mine I'd go white.

Good Luck!

Thanks for all the input.  I've also been butting heads with this guy for a while now.  He's not the one I originally hired (who left the area and sold his portfolio off).  The original manager has even told me he's repentant about handing everything over to the new guy- I'm not the only one complaining about him.

So what's really happening here is I'm delaying the inevitable hunt for a new manager.  I probably should be knocking down doors to find a new one I like while the property is vacant.  It's a huge headache though, and I really _really_ liked the original guy.  He hasn't been able to produce anyone else for me, though, and I've been trying to get soft leads for one for a while now.  I feel like I have to start from scratch again at this point.  

We use white trim and ceilings with neutral colored walls in all our rentals, even SEC 8. Having the white trim makes your photos pop.  Compare a photo of a room with white trim vs a photo of a room with the walls and trim the same color and you see there is a huge difference in the marketability.

Hi James, I have multiple rentals and always do white ceilings, rental or resale, that is my standard. I have seen other colors for ceilings in a custom painted house, though not that common.  In reality, yes, it may be a little cheaper, though the cost is likely nominal, and probably not worth your time to be quite honest going back and forth.  Time and focus is money.  If you like white, for a few more dollars, I would simply paint it white, and I agree, it will look better.  I am not sure that in the end it really matters at all, and you probably have bigger issues to deal with.  Sometimes we forget ROT and where our time is best spent. It is a fair question mind you, I just want you to think about it a little differently if that makes sense.