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Our writer tried to be thrifty and ended up losing $1,000. Here's how to avoid the same fate.

I once had the brilliant idea that I could paint the interior of our rental condo myself. We were between tenants and the walls needed some freshening up before we could rent it again. The place was only 1500 square feet. How hard could it be?

Photo: Alamy


My husband assured me it would be better to hire a painting company to do the job. They have the proper tools and sprayers and ladders. They have experienced painters. They have insurance.

I would have no part of it. I was raised to be self-sufficient and frugal. Why should I pay someone to do something I could do myself?

My husband shook his head at me with a knowing look in his eyes and drove me to the paint store. We bought gallons of white paint, brushes, rollers, pans, tape, drop cloths, rags, spackle and paint remover. Fortunately we already had a ladder.

We started our painting project early one Saturday morning. A small bedroom would be our first room, just to get a feel for what we were doing. We removed all of the window blinds, light switches and outlet covers. We dusted the window sills and door frames. We vacuumed the rug. We took a sponge with soapy water and scrubbed the baseboards and window tracks. We filled in all the picture-hook holes with spackle and waited for them to dry. Finally we were ready to paint!

Well, not exactly. I forgot we still had to tape around the door handles, the door frames, the baseboards and the closet doors. Oops, we needed to remove that closet system too. Taping takes a long time. Just when you think you are making progress, you realize the tape is slightly crooked and you have to start over from scratch.

When we finally started to roll the paint onto the walls, we moved quite quickly. The result looked great and I was proud we had done it ourselves. And it only took four hours. Then, my husband reminded me that we still had to do a second coat. And, we had only painted one small room. And the ceilings in the living room were 25 feet tall. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea?

As we had full-time jobs, we were only able to paint on weekends. It took us three weekends to complete the project. We gave up on the living room ceilings and decided to leave them alone. They were simply too high to reach.

The overall result was pretty good. The condo looked fresh and clean; it rented quickly. Then my wonderful husband gave me that knowing look and told me we had just lost about $1,000 by doing the job ourselves. How could that be?

Apparently a professional painter with sprayers and a couple of helpers could have completed the job in two days at a cost of $1,450. Since it took us three weeks to complete the paint job, those were three weeks we could not collect rent on an empty condo. At $3,200 per month in rent, we lost $2,400 during those three vacant weeks. Add in the $50 we spent on supplies that a professional already has and we were out $1000. $2,400 (lost rent) + $100 (supplies) - $1,500 (hire painters) = $1,000. And this equation assumes our time is worth nothing.

Live and learn. Now we only hire professional painters.

Still have painting on the brain? Check out...
How to Dispose of Leftover Paint

Painting Tips: From Choosing a Color to Tackling the Ceiling



  • Brett

    Diane,
    Great article! I want to know if you mind If I repost this on my blog on my companies site?

    Reply
  • 1 Comments / 1 Pages

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