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Landlord Insider
On the Landlord Insider blog, you’ll find some excellent resources for landlords of all sizes. From the latest landlord news, to professional advice, tips and guides for landlords, there’s something for everyone. Brought to you by the excellent team behind the Landlord Vision property management software.

A Landlord’s Guide to Redecorating

In a recent poll, the National Association of Residential Landlords (NRLA) surveyed 162 of its members to determine how many were unashamed DIY-ers. Of those that responded, a substantial 86 percent admitted to undertaking some form of decorating or repair work on their properties, with only 14 percent relying exclusively on professionals. 

It is understandable that savvy landlords choose to undertake their own repairs. It makes sense to save on the cost of labour and complete small works yourself, if you have the time and skill-set to do so. This is especially the case when redecorating. A fresh lick of paint in a property can help to give it a newer, cleaner feel. This can help to attract interest when it comes back onto the market or improve your relationship with tenants when done mid-tenancy. 

When it Comes to Repairs are you a DIY-er? 

diy landlord image

Choosing to redecorate a room or property yourself can add value at a relatively affordable cost. However, it is important to ensure that when redecorating you are doing so to a high standard. Poorly painted walls are a perpetual reminder to tenants of shoddy workmanship. For this reason, it is worth learning the tips and tricks of the trade so that you can successfully redecorate your rental properties in a time efficient and high-quality manner. 

Landlord Friendly Colour Schemes 

Choosing the right colour scheme is one of the most important decisions to make when redecorating a property. The right colour scheme will make or break your property, both in an aesthetic sense and in terms of practicality. As a consequence, it is vital that you put both time and thought into ensuring that you are using the right colour scheme for your property. 

The first question you should ask yourself when choosing a colour scheme is what type of tenants are you seeking to attract? The type of tenants will dictate the colour scheme and work required. If you are targeting more premium young professionals or retirees, it can be worth using lighter colours and more complex designs. Properties focused on the budget end of the market or aimed towards young families may be better suited to darker, simpler and more durable colour schemes as they may encounter significantly more wear and tear. 

Generally, unless interior design is your trade, it pays dividends to stick to neutral colour schemes. Doing so will allow you to appeal to the broadest possible selection of tenants. Neutral greys, blues, beiges and browns will strike the best balance between aesthetics and broad appeal. If you are targeting more premium clientele or your property consists of smaller rooms, it can be worth using lighter shades. However, for properties that will encounter more wear and tear, you should opt for darker shades which will do a better job of hiding marks. 

Neutral Colour Palettes for Rental Properties 

colour palette image

To maximise the effect of redecorating your properties you should try to ensure that your flooring and walls complement one another. Grey carpets work well with grey walls, beige walls can be matched with brown floors. As a rule, landlords are better placed opting for darker carpets and lighter walls than the other way around. Walls can be touched up and cleaned more easily than carpets can.  

When it comes to internal doors, skirting and woodwork, pure brilliant eggshell white should be your go to paint. Whilst gloss paints used to be the staple of landlords seeking optimal durability, many premium brand eggshell paints can match the durability of their gloss counterparts. The added benefit for landlords is that eggshell paints produce a more modern matte finish and can hide imperfections in the wood. Whilst whites should be avoided generally on walls, using pure brilliant white on the skirting and doors can help to provide a cleaner contrast against darker walls and carpets, opening a room up and modernising its look. 

For the most part, feature walls will be more effort than they are worth. They work best when they produce a contrast to the rest of the room, which usually entails opting for more vibrant colours or lighter shades, requiring that you deviate from the staple colour palette of darker neutral tones. Feature walls add complexity, cost and taste preferences into the equation and are better left alone by landlords. 

Rental Property Colour Palettes 

rental property palettes

The Redecorating Process 

The first step in redecorating any property is to take the time to plan what you are going to do. If redecorating a whole property, plan which rooms you will be painting first. It can be worthwhile leaving hallways and high traffic areas till the end. Choose your colour schemes and gather your tools and materials.  

Decorating Checklist 

The following is a helpful checklist to refer to before any job: 

  • Paint 
  • Primer – White is a great option for most painting jobs 
  • Paintbrushes 
  • Paint rollers 
  • Paint pads – Great for getting into corners and awkward spaces 
  • Paint trays 
  • Brush cleaner 
  • Cloths/wipes – For spills (white spirit will be needed for oil-based paints) 
  • Steps/ladders – To reach high areas 
  • Protective clothing – To prevent staining. If using paint remover, it is also worth wearing gloves and goggles for safety 
  • Dust sheets 
  • Masking tape 
  • Soapy water 
  • Vacuum cleaner 
  • Filler 
  • Filling knife 
  • Sandpaper or sander 

Once you have devised a plan of action and gathered your tools, you should begin preparing the room and its walls. First, everything which can be removed from the room should be. You should then put down heavy duty dust sheets or builders’ paper to cover the floor and remaining furniture. If you are replacing the carpet, always do so after you have painted the room. 

In search of expediency, many landlords overlook the preparation of walls when painting. However, doing so is a false economy. Spending the time to properly prepare your walls can lead to a longer lasting and better-looking finish. First, you will want to use filler on any holes or cracks on the wall. As time is of the essence, it is worth opting for quick-setting filler. You will then want to lightly sand the surface, focusing especially on uneven areas and those which have had filler applied.  

When painting walls, it is vital to remove dirt and grease from the surface. Wipe down the walls with sugar syrup, which can be bought as either a spray or as powder which can be mixed with water. Scrub any areas with visible dirt before rinsing with hot water and allowing to dry. Finally, you will want to mask-off any windows, fixtures and fittings. If you are painting a room for the first time or intending to do a premium job, you may want to isolate the electrical sockets and unscrew them slightly before masking them off. 

Once you have filled, sanded and cleaned the walls, you will have the optimal surface to begin painting on. The next step is to choose whether to use primer or not. If redecorating to a high standard or painting on a surface with bare plaster, applying a primer coat first is a worthwhile step. This will allow the paint to bond better and result in a better and longer-lasting finish. 

When painting the walls, you will want to paint in the following order: 

  • Ceiling 
  • Walls 
  • Windows and doors 
  • Radiators 
  • Skirting boards 

Generally, if applying multiple coats, you will want to work around the room in the order above. By painting the ceiling first and working your way down the wall to the skirting boards, you will avoid paint dripping down onto freshly finished surfaces. 

When painting ceilings and walls, begin by cutting in along the edges and around any fixtures. ‘Cutting in’ refers to using a brush to paint a 50-70mm strip along any edges or delicate areas. Being able to cut in effectively is a skill in of itself. Once you have learnt how to properly cut in on a wall, you will never want to mask walls off again. The one exception to this is when painting the edge of a tile or wood surface. In this case, it can be worthwhile adding a safety layer of blue decorator’s tape. Below are two handy videos demonstrating how to cut in professionally: 

Watch this decorating video for a full painting masterclass – it demonstrates cutting in from 14 minutes onward 

Watch this for a quicker demonstration 

Once you have cut all of the edges and fixtures, it is time to use your roller. Pour out your paint into the tray until it is about an inch deep. Where possible you will want to fix your roller onto an extended pole to expediate the process. Coat the roller in the paint, ensuring an even and full coverage. You will then be able to apply the roller onto the wall in a ‘W’ shape. Take your time when using the roller as rushing can lead to the roller spraying off paint onto other surfaces. 

Work around your room, one wall at a time. Once you have coated an entire room in the first coat, refer to the manufacturers instructions on the tin to work out how long you need to leave for the paint to dry. Once the paint has dried, you can then start to apply a second topcoat to complete the finish. 

Top Decorating Tips & Tricks 

The right paint for your room: 

Make sure that you use the right paint in the right places. When possible, using mould resistant paint in kitchens and bathrooms. It is worth doing this, even if you are only able to apply this as an undercoat. 

Be consistent in the paint you use: 

Once you have found your favoured colour palette, stick with it! If you apply the same paint across all of your properties, you will always have leftover tins to hand for touch ups. A white primer, eggshell for your skirting/doors, mould resistant paint and two different topcoats should be sufficient. 

Use trade paint: 

Where possible, try to use trade paint. Trade paints tend to be more highly pigmented, meaning that they have greater coverage and require fewer coats. When purchasing in large quantities, trade paint can save you both time and money. 

Don’t waste your time with wallpaper: 

Rental properties need to have durable walls which can be touched up quickly if necessary. Wallpaper can be snagged when moving furniture and, unless paying for premium rolls, is less easy to clean or touch up than paint. 

Think about high-wear areas: 

Make sure that your high-wear areas such as entrances and hallways have darker, more durable paints applied. It can be worth adding an extra coat to these areas to add to their durability. 

Invest in the right tools: 

When decorating your own properties, time is of the essence. Investing in the right tools and equipment will save you time and money in the long run. Purchase a couple of decent cutting/angled brushes which will stand the test of time. Ensure that you are using the right rollers for the surface you are painting and make sure to use an extended poll for larger areas. Painters’ multi-tools are worth their weight in gold. 

Paint your radiators: 

Walk into any house in the UK and odds are that the radiators are white. Painting your radiators contrasting colours such as dark greys can add a focal point to your rooms. Prospective tenants will instantly notice the radiators and assume they are viewing a premium property. 

Painting around radiators: 

Painting around radiators can be a time consuming and frustrating task. However, there are some tricks of the trade. Firstly, if your property has electric radiators, they can be more easily removed from your walls to allow you to paint behind them. Secondly, you can purchase long-reach angled brushes online or in DIY shops. Finally, you can slide a large piece of cardboard behind the radiator to shield it from paint. 

Save time cleaning up: 

Cleaning up after painting can be a time-consuming but necessary task. If you are planning on painting over a number of days, take a pack of cling-film. This can be used to wrap brushes and rollers so that they do not dry overnight. You can also purchase tray fill-ins or use your clingfilm on your trays so that you can quickly throw the paint away rather than spend time cleaning out your trays. 

Properly clean your tools: 

At the end of the job, you should properly clean your cutting brushes, trays and tools. If your paints are water based, then you can leave your brushes in a bucket of warm water for two hours. If your paint is solvent based, then you will need to use white spirit, again soaking your brushes in the solvent for at least 2 hours. Pour the water down an external drain, not down your sink. If you have used a solvent, cover the bucket and leave it to settle for 24 hours. The paint will sink to the bottom and you can pour the remaining solvent back into the jar before disposing of the waste in the bin.  

Purchase a work light: 

If you are working on evenings or in rooms with poor lighting, it is worth investing into a work light. You can purchase one for as little as £10 online. However, if you are a serial DIY-er, it may be worth investing in a tripod with a light temperature of 6,000K or more, as this will provide daylight like illumination from a higher perspective.


Disclaimer:
 This ‘Landlord Vision’ blog post is produced for general guidance only, and professional advice should be sought before any decision is made. Nothing in this post should be construed as the giving of advice. Individual circumstances can vary and therefore no responsibility can be accepted by the contributors or the publisher, Landlord Vision Ltd, for any action taken, or any decision made to refrain from action, by any readers of this post. All rights reserved. No part of this post may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means. To the fullest extent permitted by law, the contributors and Landlord Vision do not accept liability for any direct, indirect, special, consequential or other losses or damages of whatsoever kind arising from using this post.   

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George Dibb

George has built up a portfolio of rental properties over a number of years, focusing on traditional buy-to-let properties and refurbishment strategies in the North of England. George leverages his background in investment to focus on active and research led investment across both property and financial markets. George is a regular contributor to the Landlord Vision blog, focusing on property investment, the profession of being a landlord and writing market research material.