One of the ways I am able to turn an apartment so fast, is the way I have my painting method set up. I know how to paint a rental property, and paint it efficiently and fast. When I first started with my rental properties, I hated painting. I hired a guy to paint for $20 an hour, and it would take him a week to paint. I now paint an entire apartment, in about 16 hours, including the trim. Often even less.
If you are afraid of painting, or just do not like it, fear not. It is not that hard. Here are some tips for landlords, and even home owners, to help make the job easier.
Here is how I am able to do it quickly and efficiently.
You do not have to Paint a Rental Property Between Tenants
There is no law that says you have to paint between tenants. That is an ‘old wives’ tale. If you had to paint a rental property at every turn, you should add another $100 per month to the rent for a year lease. I would gladly paint one of my rentals for $1,200, but not for much less.
Use a semi-gloss paint. For the most part, it will wipe clean. If you can wipe the dirt off the walls, it saves the cost and labor of paint. Never use a flat paint. You are almost guaranteed to need a full paint job if you do that. Especially if there are pets or kids living in the property.
Never Let a Renter Paint for You
Some renters my very well know how to paint. Most do not. You are better off painting yourself, or hiring a professional to paint, than having to re-do all the damage that may be done if you have to recover from a bad paint job.
Always Carry a Wet Rag with You
A damp rag is a painter’s best friend. When I am touching up, most of the spots can be wiped clean. When I am painting, and I have a drip (or two), I can wipe it up right away, while I am there looking at it. If I have to go back to the sink to get it, I waste time. And the paint dries. Or I forget where the paint dropped. If I step in the spot, I track the paint all over. Carry a wet wash cloth sized rag with you. Put in in the hammer loop of your painters pants so you have it with you at all times. Sure, it will get your pants just a bit wet, but you need to be efficient.
Forget about white walls. That is a product of the 60s and 70s. If you have to paint a rental property, any color other than white will hide the underlying dirt and other underlying colors much better.
My color is a color called “Interactive Cream”, which is a Sherwin Williams color. I picked it by accident, but it works great. I purchased a rental in 2010 that was using that color, so not it’s ‘mine’. It’s not too dark to make a room look small, and dark enough to cover any underlying blemishes in the base paint.
Any extra tint in the base paint will help you cover in one coat.
Use One Color for all Walls, in all your Rentals
If you are even thinking about using some sort of color strip in the center of a wall, forget about being a landlord. I would even go so far as to say if you are thinking about a “accent wall”, forget about it. You want fast apartment turns, and your accent color may not be the best color for the next tenant.
You want to be able to show up and be ready to paint. Going off to match a paint color at a paint store before you start takes time.
All my walls are the same color, in all my apartments. Stick to that and you will be better off. I know what color I need when I show up. I know it will match. I have plenty on hand, as I buy in 5-gallon pail. I know I can get plenty more of it when I need it. I never have to see a property to know what color I need.
Use Masking Tape to Protect Areas
I use Sherwin Williams masking tape. It’s fairly cheap, with my account pricing, and works great. It’s sticky enough so that it doesn’t start to loosen.
Stay Away from Blue (or Green) Tape
I know the blue tape has a 30 day “safe removal period” or some other number that makes people feel good. If it takes you longer than 30-days to paint, that’s too long. When you are a landlord, you need to be done in two days, tops. And you need to save money. Do not pay $5 and $6+ a roll for some special tape to paint a rental property.
Remove the masking tape as soon as the paint is starting to get a bit tacky. When you remove the tape, you should get some wet paint on your hands. That way, the tape does not pull the paint off the walls. If you have ever had a perfect paint job ruined by pulling the tape off, you will understand the importance of this step. So, about 30 minutes after you paint a wall, take the tape off the baseboard.
You should only need to mask off baseboards and other horizontal areas. There is no need to mask off a ceiling or door frame. You will be using a roller, and cutting in the ceiling line with a brush, just do not hit the ceiling with the roller. Learn how high you go to the ceiling with the roller and do not touch it. The same with window and door frames.
Skip any tape dispensers. Just use a roll of tape, and apply it while you pull the roll along where you need to tape. Cut it with a putty knife and use the same knife to make sure the tape is stuck to the area you are putting it on. You do not want the paint to run under the tape.
Cut in the side of doorways and windows with a quality brush. It will be easy to stay away from the windows if you are using the roller with vertical motions.
Use Quality Roller Covers and Brushes
You need a device that holds as much paint as you can get. Every time you go back to the paint bucket or can, you are wasting time. Dip a 3” thick brush in paint, rather than a 2” skinny one, and you have about two times as much paint on each dip. That makes for a faster paint job.
I use a Purdy paint brush. I have use the same brush on literally hundreds of jobs. Some large, some small. I will use the same brush with 2-3 different colors (walls, ceilings, trim) sometimes. Each time I clean it up and it is as good as new on the next job.
A sheepskin roller cover can be reused many times. They clean up like a dream, maybe because of the oil in the wool. I am not sure. The sheepskin holds more paint, and gives a better finish. Less trips to the paint bucket means more efficient and faster painting.
You do not want to be bending over to fill your roller cover with paint. Or you can eliminate standing on a step stool to reach the ceiling. If you use a 2’-3’ adjustable extension pole, it will save wear and tear on your back. Each movement costs effort, minimize it so that you can paint without too many breaks.
Time is money. Taking extra breaks leads to an extra day of painting and maybe a lost month of rent.
12” and 18” rollers
I have used them. Stay away from them. They do not fit in a 5-gallon paint bucket, and take more strength to use. There are not as many supplies available for them. There is a reason why most professional painters use a 9” roller.
Have you ever seen a professional painter use a roller pan? If you have, they were not a professional painter. Use a 5-gallon pail, and a painting screen. I use a 9” roller, which is the most common size. It fits in a 5-gallon pail. If it was better to use a 12” roller, that size would be the most common.
By using a 5-gallon pail to hold your paint, rather than a roller pan, you do not have to fill the “transport” paint container as much. Put 2-3 gallons in the bucket and paint for an hour. Save the time filling the roller pan, and you save a lot of time.
A bucket is also less prone for mishaps. A roller pan may hold ½ gallon tops. It can be dropped or tipped to easily, then you have a mess to clean up. The bucket has a handle, the pan does not.
Stick to what a professional painter uses. You will be better off.
If you are going to remove the flooring, by all means, spray the ceilings. Even if they do not exactly need it. There will be no easier time to paint the ceilings than when you can spray. And if the woodwork is the same color, spray that too.
Use a Quality Drop Cloth
Use a long, but narrow, quality drop cloth – made from cloth not plastic. Slide it along as you paint the wall. Often, you will be spending as much time moving the painting cloth as you do painting. My cloth is 5’ x 15’. It takes about 5 minutes to cover the 15’ and it’s time to move the cloth again. Do not use a plastic cloth, they always get twisted and torn. And they catch on your feet when you walk on them. And the paint doesn’t dry on them as fast, so an hour later you are still tracking paint on the bottom of your shoe.
Cleaning Painting Equipment
When I start to clean, here is what I do.
I fill up my empty paint cup with warm water to keep my brush from drying out, and to help with the cleaning process.
Fill up an empty 5-gallon pail with warm water, about half full. I drop my sheepskin roller cover in it.
I then clean the rollers (not the cover) and any other utensils that I used. Maybe the painting screen or other equipment. A roller and a brush is 95% of the equipment that I use, so there isn’t much.
I go back and clean the brush with warm water. I use a stainless steel wire brush, to clean the bristles like brand new. Any paint left on the brush will ruin it very fast. Even when you think it is clean, it is often not. Shake it a bit in a paint cup filled with water to make sure it is clean.
I find it takes up to 2-3 minutes to clean a brush good.
I take my roller cover and shake it in the bucket a bit. It has been soaking for at least 5 minutes.
Avoid Painting Gimmicks
Watching commercials on TV, you see all sort of painting gimmicks. Things like “cutter inner” for ceilings, some paint poles, cheap paint sprayers, etc. If they are that efficient, and a professional painter doesn’t use them, you have to wonder why. They are not worth it.
The painters tape dispensers, junk.
Painting pads hold very little paint. You need a roller pan to use them. Blue tape costs too much, and you do not need it. A roller pan is one more thing to clean, and tip.
I do like to use a paint spout, as it makes it easier to put paint than snapping off the lid on a bucket. And a paint brush cup, with a magnet makes it easier to paint than using a 1-gallon can.
Have you already used any of the painting tips above? What are your favorite painting techniques?