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Decorating for a Landlord, by an Actual Decorator

Updated Oct 10, 2022 | Posted Nov 24, 2020 | Business, Professional insight | 0 comments

I’ve been a painter and decorator for almost 21 years and in that time, I have done an eclectic mix of jobs. I mostly do domestic (working in people’s houses), but I’ve also worked on newbuilds, hung specialist wallcoverings and even some commercial. Decorating for a landlord in a rented property is a different animal to any of those, and it is different again from working for a letting agency.

A house or flat to a landlord isn’t a home, it’s a business and it needs to be as profitable as it can be. A tenants’ rent needs to cover the cost of the mortgage, all maintenance and then make a little bit on top. Now a tenant may only sign a 6-month contract and then leave, meaning there will be at least some maintenance to do in preparation for the next one. If I was going to decorate the average 2 bed house, I’d normally be looking at £2,600 plus materials or more. That could be 5-month’s rent from a tenant, just to pay for me to decorate. It’s just not feasible.

The budget for decorating the average 2-bed house for a landlord needs to be around the £600 – £700, or the landlord will lose money and his or her investment is for nothing. It is possible for a decorator to get in, tidy everything up and get out for that kind of money and still make a good wage. It isn’t exactly glamourous, and I would hate to live in it afterwards, but it is still doable.


You’ve just got to live by one rule, which is “one coat on everything and do minimal prep” (I feel dirty admitting to that. Get in, sheet up every room, block out your stains (there are always stains in a rental), caulk up, spot prime your stain block using vinyl matt (which is less likely to flash). Then get a good thick coat of contract matt on your ceilings, good thick coat of contract matt on the walls (same colour as was on beforehand), then one big coat of either neat satinwood, or Dulux Once Gloss on your woodwork.

The only filling you do is on cracks in the plaster, but you fill them flush, so they don’t need sanding. Don’t bother filling other imperfections or even sanding the woodwork. Listen, the landlord isn’t ar*ed. It gets the next tenant in quicker and the money starts to roll in again


Final Thoughts


Decorating for a landlord is never going to be pretty, but if you understand what the landlord’s business is, and how you can decorate to their standard and still make money, you can’t go wrong. I love this type of work. You go into a property, make everything look clean, then leave.

Decorating for a Landlord – by Mike Gregory


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Updated Oct 10, 2022 | Posted Nov 24, 2020 | 0 comments

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