When you paint your rental houses..... how are you doing it?

14 Replies

Hi everyone...

For those who have painted, how do you do it? Do you go at it alone or with help? I've found it to be a long, boring task, but wanted to take on the job at my own house we picked up for the experience and to know what right would look like.

 I had never painted anything prior to this, at 25 years old, but now I laugh internally everytime I go in someone's house and see paint spots on the ceiling and on baseboards and improper cut-in lines. I feel like now I will know exactly what should be done when painting future rentals and will be better able to speak with the painters I hire or could more quickly prep a rental if I had to do so on my own for time or to save some cash and spend some time.

I had a rental that needed to be painted, about 1200 SQft got painted 2 coats, plus baseboards and paid $950 including paint. That was easy, but I didn't learn anything, so...

I bought a foreclosure house that my wife and I moved into and took on the task of painting it myself (regrettably). This entails having to paint all baseboards, doors, trim and walls. Fixing screw pops, patching holes, caulking here and there, color changes from pink and lime semigloss to a neutral color, and cleaning filthy walls down. It looks very good if I shall say so myself, straight lines, no paint on the floors, much better than what we got it in.

That said, it's exhausting and seems never ending. I think I probably would have paid about 2000 or more for a good paint job considering everything I needed painted, it's a 1650 sq ft home and all the prep work/cleaning involved. In hindsight, I would have hired a helper or got my wife involved to help. Got all the rooms painted, now just a couple closets left and some doors and trim and then I am done.

@Scott Stevens   you have my sympathy.  I usually paint my own rentals.  If it is a room or 2 I do it myself with usually a 2 inch cut in brush and a roller.  I remove doors and usually tape any trim.  If it is several rooms and they need washing I usually get a helper to wash and clean while I paint and to remove tape before paint dries, clean up paper or plastic etc.  I should hire the painting done, but there is only 1 professional painter in town here the rest would not do as good of a job as me.  I also have a poor rent/mortgage ratio so I try to cut costs.  The bigger the job the more likely I am to hire a swamper to help out.  They do not need to be skilled labor, your basic teenager can do most of it, the best is usually an experienced housewife, they can clean like no other and usually have a great work ethic.  I use the same paint color in every rental so that helps a lot, often I only have to touch up.

I used to paint all of my rentals as well. Got a sprayer and that sped things up a little but it wasnt a dedicated sprayer so it didn't really save me any time (Sears unit attached to compressor). Painting is painstaking work and often times never ending. Not a good use of my time so I will pay a pro to do the bulk work and then do the finish work myself. 

With practice you will get better or keep hiring pros. 

One big tip I learned when I used to work as a professional painter is brush care. Clean all dried paint with a wire brush and then once the brush is rinsing clean, dry and coat in a very very thick coat of the jelly-like hand cleaner that you can get at any auto or mass merchant store. Work into brush and wrap in a rag. When you go back two months later, the brush will be soft like new.

I've painted before and am pretty good at it. I spend a lot of time on prep work (cleaning the walls, spackling holes, sanding, taping, etc.), so the actual painting goes quick and smoothly. 

That said, I just bought my first buy and hold and was planning on painting it myself. I grossly underestimated the amount of prep work the walls and ceiling would need. I work a 9 to 5 and the house I purchased is 90 minutes away which means most of my work is done on weekends. It would take me way too long to properly prep and paint the house, so I'm hiring out. I'd rather pay the $ to have it professionally painted than to lose income from having it sit vacant while I do all the work.

It depends on how much your time is worth to you. For our first property we did literally everything, from painting to plumbing to laminate. We were trying to cut costs and learn some valuable lessons. What we ended up learning was that our time was better spend elsewhere. Finding deal, financing said deals, networking with other investors agents etc....

Originally posted by @Philip Williams:

It depends on how much your time is worth to you. For our first property we did literally everything, from painting to plumbing to laminate. We were trying to cut costs and learn some valuable lessons. What we ended up learning was that our time was better spend elsewhere. Finding deal, financing said deals, networking with other investors agents etc....

That's what I'm thinking now. I am glad to have done this much work thus far among other work at the house to have the experience so I can properly hire out the work and follow up on it down the road, but for all the time I put into working on the house, I don't think the time value was worth it. Whereas, when I swap out a broken light switch at a rental house, I think I get a good return on my time going there and putting in a new $2 switch as opposed to having to hire an electrician or handyman and paying $75 and hoping they are honest about the repair they had to do.

I also think my wife and I should just stick to cheaper $700-800 a month apartments. It seems like everyday I am thinking of some maintenance or cleaning thing to do on the 1600 sq ft townhouse we live in. Apartment living was nice, but we moved into the house to get better loan terms.

Many landlords who do their own painting like to use a Paint Stick:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/HomeRight-PaintStick-5-Piece-Paint-Applicator-Kit-C800778/202760134

I tried it once and it did make the painting go faster but the clean up was a pain (to me) and I gave it away.

I also used to paint using "oopsie paint" (the stuff you buy cheap at the local Habitat for Humanity stores) or mix my own by tossing a bunch of paint into a five gallon container.  Only problem is doing touch up after someone moves out and you've used up all your "oopsie".  Now every house gets painted Navaho White which makes touch ups after the tenants move out easier.


Gail

Its all about how much is your time worth and do you like to do it. I usually paint mine myself because I'm quick and hate paying others but when I'm too busy I will farm it out. I find  using a sprayer only good for the primer or white ceilings as it takes too long to clean the sprayer. I also use a 18" wide roller to speed things up for large rooms. If you like it then do it yourself. If it's a pain then farm it out. Lots of cheap painters out there.

On the topic of paint, I really liked the point that Brandon made on one of the podcasts about always using the same readily available color in every one of his houses and in every room.  He would put this color, some manner of off-white or something innocuous, into the lease agreement as well so the tenant could go buy it at the nearby hardware store if they needed to touch up.  And any time he had to do the touch up himself, he only needed to stock the one color.  Simple but fantastic advice.

1. for rentals, we use a good quality sprayer and can do a whole house in about 2 hours, one guy moving the sprayer and paint and one spraying. prep takes longer, tape off outlets, windows, lights etc.

2. for rehabs, we use a sprayer for the white ceiling, then spray the trim and doors in gloss white. we will roller the walls. on rehabs well leave the doors on and spray over the hinges, since we always install new knobs and hinges in satin or oil rubbed bronze.

We bought a $400 sprayer and it was worth it's wait in gold. We could spray a 1800 sqft house in 2 days . For a small shop who is still counting every penny and does a lot of the work themself. This has been a life saver. We personally are starting to invest more and more ion "tools" as it let's us stretch are hour investment.

I'm not bragging, but I'm a pretty good painter. Neat, no drips, very good at cutting in. (That skill saves having to tape everything.) I don't care - I like walls a different color from the woodwork. That means extra work, I know - I think it's worth it in eye appeal. I've also never painted a house less than 80 years old, so I run into HOURS of prep work before the first paint can ever gets opened. All that said in favor of handwork, I do like a sprayer for larger ceilings. Small rooms I'll do with a roller - I can do it faster by hand than by covering everything & cleaning the sprayer.

Never cheap out on brushes & keep 'em clean. They will be your BFFs.

I've not been impressed with "pro" painters - they don't do a better job than I can & I really can't afford to spend the money.

Yes, it's boring - plug yourself in to the ol' iPod, get a cooler full of drinks, some snacks & put your mind in Zen mode. But it's pretty exciting when you're done!

You'll have to decide if spending the cash frees you up for something more lucrative, or if doing it yourself is worth your time.

Originally posted by @Kathleen Leary:

I'm not bragging, but I'm a pretty good painter. Neat, no drips, very good at cutting in. (That skill saves having to tape everything.) I don't care - I like walls a different color from the woodwork. That means extra work, I know - I think it's worth it in eye appeal. I've also never painted a house less than 80 years old, so I run into HOURS of prep work before the first paint can ever gets opened. All that said in favor of handwork, I do like a sprayer for larger ceilings. Small rooms I'll do with a roller - I can do it faster by hand than by covering everything & cleaning the sprayer.

Never cheap out on brushes & keep 'em clean. They will be your BFFs.

I've not been impressed with "pro" painters - they don't do a better job than I can & I really can't afford to spend the money.

Yes, it's boring - plug yourself in to the ol' iPod, get a cooler full of drinks, some snacks & put your mind in Zen mode. But it's pretty exciting when you're done!

You'll have to decide if spending the cash frees you up for something more lucrative, or if doing it yourself is worth your time.

Haha, I like to think my work looks really good and yep, no taping either. I never looked before, but now whenever I'm in other homes/friends places, I glance at the baseboards and trim and see paint splatters and roller marks on the ceilings.

Painting rates seemed expensive here. About $1 plus a sq foot, but I can see why with all the work involved, and I'm sure the rates would have been higher once they realized all the cleaning and prep work invovled fixing the previous occupant's mess.  

I'm a decent painter but don't really like painting. Don't use tape - just careful cutting in. 

If it's just a room or wall I do it - otherwise I hire a painter I regularly use. She charges about $750-850 for a 1,000 - 1,200 square foot place which includes paint and 2 coats. Takes her 2-3 days and it always looks good.

Originally posted by @Bill Wallace:

I'm a decent painter but don't really like painting. Don't use tape - just careful cutting in. 

If it's just a room or wall I do it - otherwise I hire a painter I regularly use. She charges about $750-850 for a 1,000 - 1,200 square foot place which includes paint and 2 coats. Takes her 2-3 days and it always looks good.

Bill, seems like a good rate for that amount of space and I'd have to agree with doing the wall or room otherwise would hire out at that.

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