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What Is The Best Interior Paint for Landlords and House Flippers? (Hint… It’s Not What You Think)

I’ve finally found paint I love, and I use it over and over and over again – saving me time, money, and hassel. Do you have a favorite paint yet?

Whether you are a buy-and-hold landlord, a house flipper, a commercial investor, or just starting out – paint is one of the expenses that come up time and time again. Perhaps you have a paint you absolutely love, or perhaps (like I did) you switch constantly, never quite content with your choice.

I thought it would be a fun post to talk about the paint I use in my day to day real estate investing. Obviously, since I do both flips and rentals, the material can differ – so I’ve included information on both, including the general cost that I pay. Before I get into the actual items, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. This is not the only way to do things, this is just my way. If you disagree with me – that’s okay, but let me know in the comments below. Maybe my mind can change.
  2. Your Costs Might Be Different: Prices change and differ depending on location. So things might be a little (or a lot) different for you.
  3. I don’t live in a real “high end” area: The price range I deal in are between $80,000 and $150,000 for a single family house. If you are dealing with million-dollar mansions, perhaps your opinion of quality will be different.

Without further suspense, let’s get started!

A Scientific Experiment: Finding The Best Brand of Paint

Paint Experiment
Last year, I performed an experiment.

I wanted to know – is there a difference between all the different paint brands out there? Obviously, some paint runs $50 a gallon, while other runs under $20. Which should I be using? Many people are die-hard supporters of one brand over another, as you can often find by searching theBiggerPockets Forums.

I was painting the interior of my own house – so I bought paint from multiple different retailers – including multiple brands and qualities from Home Depot, Sherwin-Williams, and Wal-mart. All in all, I bought over a dozen different types of paint. All the colors were the same, as well as the sheen (see below for my discussion on color and sheen.) I then painted each room of the house with a different kind of paint and compared the difference. Each wall was the same color before – thus keeping as many factors the same before conducting my experiment. The results surprised me.

My Findings: I discovered, as you might expect, that the most expensive paint (Duration, from Sherwin Williams and the Behr Paint and Primer in One from Home Depot) covered much better than the cheap stuff (ColorPlace brand from Wal-Mart) BUT nothing covered 100% through. I’d say the expensive stuff covered at about 90% effectively (when you looked close, about 10% of any given area needed more coats), while the cheap stuff covered about 60%. So, either way – every single paint I used really needed two coats. (There is only one paint that did not meet this test: SpeedWall from Home Depot. That stuff is terrible. It took three coats to cover.)

So if the paint that cost $50 per gallon needs two coats – and the paint that cost under $20 needs two-coats: which will I buy? Yep – the cheap stuff. This is especially true for rentals. ColorPlace from Wal-Mart is it. At less than $18 per gallon – I’ll save hundreds on a paint job and get the same results.

Quality? I couldn’t tell a difference from room to room, and neither could anyone else who looked at it.

However – sometimes shopping at Wal-Mart sucks. Sometimes they are out of the paint I need. Sometimes it takes twenty minutes to track down a qualified person to shake the paint. Sometimes it takes twenty minutes of standing in line to check out. If I’m not in the mood for a hassel, I will take my favorite color (see below) from Wal-Mart and take it to Home Depot to color match – and get the “Kilz ProX” brand (my second favorite interior paint, due to the price) in the same color for about $10 more per five-gallon bucket.

What About Durability?

The one thing my test could not determine was long-term durability. What will this paint look like in ten years? Honestly – I don’t care. I’ll have repainted several times by then. This isn’t a guide to painting your own home – this is for rentals and flips!

What’s the Best Sheen for Paint?

ID-10038186
“Sheen” means shiny.

There are several different sheens to choose from:

  • Flat (no shine)
  • Eggshell (a little shine)
  • Satin (some shine)
  • Semi-Gloss (quite a bit of shine)
  • Gloss (shiny!)

Kids, with their dirty hands, love to touch all the walls. After a family moves out of one of my rentals, the walls, at about three feet high, are disgusting and generally need to be repainted. However, by using higher-sheen paint, often times those marks can simply be cleaned with soap and water. The

Thus, for every rental I have I use semi-gloss everywhere. Walls, ceiling, trim.

When it’s time to paint – there is little-to-no taping required and no tough lines where the ceiling meets the walls. As a landlord, time is money – so I don’t want to pay a painter extra for making the ceiling a different color or sheen than the rest.

Flips, however, are a different story. Semi-gloss looks okay, but it looks a little too much like a “rental.” Instead, I use eggshell on the walls, semi-gloss on the trim, and flat on the ceiling.

My Favorite Interior Color for Rentals and Flips

COlor

For every rental, I use “Country White,” which is a Wal-Mart color. The beauty of Country White is that it is pre-mixed, at the factory, and shipped to wal-mart pre-mixed. This means I don’t have to hope the mixing guy gets the color right. Also – next year, I don’t need to try and remember what paint (or sheen or brand) I used last time. It’s always the same – country white.

When I flip, I also use “Country White” on the walls – but I use pure white on the ceiling – and typically just get the Glidden “Ceiling Paint” from Home Depot – which they sell in 2-Gallon buckets for $30. I also use “bright white” on the trim, and usually will spring for the more expensive “Behr Ultra Premium Pure White,” ($26 per gallon) as it is much brighter and “pops” more.

Summary

There you have it. Those are my actual paint colors I use on ever property. Below is a photo of the way this paint turns out, specifically in a rental. This is Semi-Gloss Country White, from Wal-Mart, on the walls, trim (not much trim in this photo) and ceiling. This is inside of one of my apartment units.

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