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My wife and I own several rental houses in Texas DFW areas for retirement income. Between the leases we do make-ready works to make the house ready for the next moving-in tenants.

One of the classic problems in make-ready works is to touchup or paint-over the small spots of damage on drywalls. (The walls are all textured.) We ended up having to repaint over the whole section of wall because it is almost impossible buy paint of the same color and tone, even if we buy the same brand-name with the same color number, that blends smoothly with the existing color. In most cases, extra paint left-over by the builder was no longer available; using spectrophotometer machines in paint stores may not always help.

Now that we are planning to repaint over a entire house in near future...

  1. Do think we should choose simple, pure white color to minimize color drifting down the road? We plan to use semi-gloss finish to make it more stain resistant.

  2. Do you think higher-end products have proven to be more color consistent?

Thank you for your time.

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  • 8
    Due to paint aging and other factors, painting the whole wall (or indeed the whole apartment) is normal. Even cans of the original paint (if saved and stored and not full of rust from the can) don't perfectly match what is on the walls and some years old.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 9 at 14:43
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    Even using the exact same paint, you have the the problem matching new/bright/clean paint compared to old/faded/not as clean paint.
    – crip659
    Apr 9 at 14:43
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    In fact paint from different cans in a single batch may vary in color; professional painters may mix paint from several cans to even that out rather than using one can at a time.
    – keshlam
    Apr 9 at 23:14
  • @Ecnerwal I see mostly plastic paint buckets and lids nowadays—I think the only metal part is the handle! (But your paint aging point still stands.)
    – Huesmann
    Apr 10 at 13:14
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    Are you doing anything to match the texture? Even if you get the color exactly right, if you have a smooth spot in the middle of an orange-peel wall, it will be obvious, especially when light (e.g., from a window) is at a glancing angle. It will appear almost like a different color. People are often dubious about this but consider how you can see wall texture in pictures on a computer screen.
    – JimmyJames
    Apr 10 at 20:18

4 Answers 4

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I also have a few rental properties. I paint them all the same color, ( we use Valspar Beach House White) in eggshell finish in the medium grade.

You can choose any color, but I would not use semi-gloss. I save that for trim and doors.

The paint touch up I do is not noticeable at all. I can use paint purchased for a new project on a home I had for 3 years and it matches perfect.

I do repaint the whole house after about 3 to 4 years depending on the total look.

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  • Thank you for your pointers. One question: Valspar is the flagship brand of Lowe's, whereas Behr is Home Depot's. Have you the same consistency with Behr? Home Depot is much closer to my properties, and besides I would like to have more options. Thank you again.
    – A.Magnus
    Apr 9 at 15:02
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    Yes I have had the same consistency with Behr. I have Lowes closer to my home. I find if I stick with colors chosen from their color chips I get perfect to very good matches. If I bring in something to match it gets less likely to be a great match. Thus the Beach House white choice.
    – RMDman
    Apr 9 at 15:06
  • I have tried and tried but can't find much to like about Behr paint. It seems cheap and doesn't cover very well regardless of the color... at least for me. Doesn't HD still sell Glidden? That's a decent brand.
    – gnicko
    Apr 10 at 16:43
  • Paint can often be like food, what one person likes another doesn't. Case in point, I have used Glidden and Behr...I will never buy Glidden again. It had poor coverage for me, where the Behr worked well . Different strokes , I guess.
    – RMDman
    Apr 10 at 16:47
  • This, for your rentals. White eggshell, straight off the shelf on untextured drywall. Patches are close to invisible, they certainly won't annoy your tenants. Tiny nail holes filled with white filler don't even need painting. If you want to provide a more luxurious rental with darker colors, painting whole wall sections with paint from the matching machine should be part of your budget and reflected in the rent.
    – jay613
    Apr 11 at 13:55
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We ended up having to repaint over the whole section of wall because it is almost impossible buy paint of the same color and tone, even if we buy the same brand-name with the same color number, that blends smoothly with the existing color.

That's correct and normal. The human eye can see millions of colors when laid next to each other. Try any of the "discern the odd color" games on the web, which only supports 16 million colors. Here, here's one I just made in Photoshop, in HSB the chroma differs by 8 of 360 degrees with same saturation and brightness. Or, in RGB, a difference of 3/256 on red hue only. Find the circle.

enter image description here

See how good human eyes are?

That is beyond the tolerance of the XRite machines that scan your color, combined with the colorant mixers available. They just can't make a match that precise.

They sternly warn you to mix all your cans of paint together (when you're buying from a lumberyard or hardware store that mixes cans one at a time). Commercial paint suppliers do that for me.

(2) Do you think higher-end products have proven to be more color consistent?

That won't make a hill of beans difference. I deal with a manufacturer of very high-end 2-part LPU paint, $400 a can type stuff. They're the best there is, and they can't do it.

In most cases, extra paint left-over by the builder was no longer available...

Unfortunately, that's your only option, and it only works indoors, because UV will shift the color of your exterior paint.

And even worse, modern ultra-low-VOC "latex"/emulsion paints are vulnerable to blooms of mold, so that half-can of paint from 2 years ago may have gone rancid! If painted on a wall, it will create an insufferable odor that won't go away. We've seen people try everything, and ultimately have to strip all the paint off their walls to get rid of it. (and no, overcoating doesn't work either). You really don't want to get into a Pepsi Challenge with a tenant on that. Really.

Your least bad defense against this is to pour yourself entirely full quarts, pints or half pints; with next to no airspace in the can, the mold doesn't bloom.

(1) Do think we should choose simple, pure white color to minimize color drifting down the road?

Yeah, or a color that is only sold pre-mixed at the factory, because at factory volumes they can hold colors pretty tight. For one particularly annoying project, I just declared Rustoleum 7770 Almond to be the official color, no shop mixing needed.

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  • I wonder if there's a market for small cans of dry nitrogen to blow the air out of a paint can.
    – fectin
    Apr 10 at 21:48
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A few issues:

  1. It's not just matching the color, but as paint ages and is exposed to UV, it will change. As others have said in the comments, even if you saved the paint cans, it will not be a perfect match.
  2. Yes, semi-gloss paint resists scuffs more than a flatter sheen, but it will make your properties less attractive. Also, a flatter sheen is easier to patch up. My favorite is eggshell. Flat paint gets dirty rather quickly.
  3. Painting everything white is an alternative, but it does show the dirt more, requiring repainting with every turnover.

A few alternatives:

  1. Use a paint that is especially made for rentals, like Scuff-X. I've had good luck with it, but it's not the only one in the market, and I'm sure other brands are just as good.
  2. If you are doing the work yourselves, learn how to use an airless sprayer. It really speeds up the work, especially on textured walls.
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  • Thank you for your pointers. Yes, I heard about eggshell from others too. Looks like Benjamin Moore sells Scuff-X. I will look closely at it next time. Thank you again.
    – A.Magnus
    Apr 9 at 15:08
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We ended up having to repaint over the whole section of wall because it is almost impossible buy paint of the same color and tone.

Did you let it cure for 2-4 weeks before judging the color?

Do think we should choose simple, pure white color to minimize color drifting down the road?

I always figured the reasoning behind lighter colors is to make rooms look bigger. Albeit they stain easier so it's easier to see if a tenant took care of the property. Maybe choose a super light tan?

We plan to use semi-gloss finish to make it more stain resistant.

Usually that's a bad idea because semi-gloss reveals EVERY imperfection on a wall.

Do you think higher-end products have proven to be more color consistent?

You are likely in a battle against paint age and wall cleanliness, not product consistency.

How much time elapses between the average re-paint? Are you thoroughly washing the entire wall before make-ready patch tasks?

If you're not spending the time in prep-work then you spend the time painting the entire wall. Pick your battle.

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