All About Paint (And Processes)

This article is about paint. It’s also about the need to create systems to streamline your business. Yes, both of those are boring subjects, but they are important topics to address while trying to systematize your investing business to the point where you can manage several rehabs at one time, or even just manage a single rehab while trying to work a full-time job.

Let me tell you a story about my first two rehab projects…

During those rehabs, I spent about three straight days driving between my two rehab projects and a couple different paint stores (Home Depot, Duron, Sherwin Williams). Originally, my thought was that I would pick a single paint color, use it for every house, and I’d never have to think about paint again. As usual, I was naive. The problem is, when I got down to the details, I realized that one SKU of paint doesn’t go very far.

While a flat paint in a neutral color will get you about 75% through a house, a lot goes into that other 25%. For example, if you’ll be changing wall colors or need to cover stains or odors, you’ll want a primer. For really bad odors/stains, you may want an oil-based primer like Killz. Plus, that flat neutral (i.e., non-white) paint won’t be good for ceilings, trim, or cabinets, each of which require a separate color and/or type of paint. And that flat paint won’t be good for kitchens and bathrooms, where you generally want a semi-gloss. It won’t be good for the exterior, where you will want an exterior paint in multiple colors to cover the siding, the trim and the shutters. And don’t forget about the basements — concrete and cinder block will generally require something a little different than sheet-rock, both in color and paint type. Oh, and don’t forget about the stain needed for any wood surfaces, such as decks.

So, as you can see, what started out as, “Pick a color and go with it,” ended up as, “Let’s put together a list of 12 different paint SKUs, of which at least 8 are probably needed on any given house.”

A lot of flippers will got through this process over-and-over on each flip — driving to different paint stores, deciding on colors, finishes, etc, and trying to keep all the info straight in their head. But a smart flipper will do this only once. They will use this opportunity to systematize their business so that all the effort they spend picking out paint they’ll never have to repeat.

Here is what I did after those three days of running around picking paint:

First, I decided that I needed to consolidate all my paint purchasing at a single brand; in my case, I chose Duron, because I was able to get a discount on all their Prokote labeled paint. Next, I created a list of every type of paint I might ever need to use in/on one of my houses. This includes all the interior needs, exterior needs, basement needs, wood stains, concrete stains, etc. For each need, I’ve picked one SKU and one color, and where it makes sense, the colors are the same (for example, the primer colors always match the finish colors). The next step was to create a new account at Duron so that when my contractors need paint, they could drive to the paint store, give the account number and the quantities to the guy behind the desk, and the store can do the rest.

While it was a pain in the butt to do this the first time around (it literally took three days), I never had to be involved in the process of picking paint again; these days, my contractors have my paint list, and they take care of purchasing and picking up the paint for each rehab we do. That three days on the first project has saved me hundreds of hours on my subsequent projects, and will save me hundreds of hours in the future as well.

If you can have to have this exact same mindset for each of the thousands of details that are required to flip a house, you are well on your well to some serious flipping profits!

15 thoughts on “All About Paint (And Processes)”

    1. REDYMED –

      Sorry I didnt respond sooner! My wife and I have been sick for much of the past week…

      For the interior walls, we always use Sherwin Williams “Realist Beige” (SW 6078).

      For the exterior, we use different colors on every house — if you want to know the colors on a specific house, let me know and Im happy to give them to you…

  1. Hi mr scott, can you please tell me whats a great way to get start up capital for my flipping businessa. I was thinking of getting a 20,000 dollar loan from the sba maybe you you have a better idea, thanks mr. Scott

  2. J,

    Newbie here as well. I love House 37. Would you mind sharing the SKUs and color for the cabinets, trims, ceilings, exterior, etc?

    Also, for kitchen and bathroom, do you just use the semi-gloss version of the same color for interior wall?

    Thanks so much.

    1. Hey Brian,

      All of our interiors are the same colors: Sherwin Williams Realist Beige (SW6078) flat for walls, semi-gloss white for trim and ceiling white for ceilings. Using the same color for every house (and every room) makes things cheaper/easier for our contractors, but if you fully paint, most buyers wont complain that its all one color. We generally replace cabinets, but when we paint/stain, well generally use an Espresso color.

  3. Thanks J. So same color for walls in kitchen and bathroom? Just want to confirm, since you mentioned semi-gloss in the article for kitchen and bathroom…

    1. Hey Brian,

      Yup, these days we use flat throughout the house, including kitchens and bathrooms. All the same color. Semi-gloss on trim. And white on ceiling.

    1. Hey Brian,

      We do different color schemes on each exterior. While its more cumbersome and time consuming, this is the one design element my wife gets to do on each house, and she doesnt want to give it up. We try to do a different color scheme on each house, but also try to stick with popular and neutral tones.

  4. The wealth of information here is incredibly valuable— thank you so much.

    By setting up the account at Duron you have all the details your painting contractor needs, thats great. You say youve already negotiated a discount for the paint itself but then you say the contractor takes care of purchasing and picking up the paint. Do you negotiate with your painting contractor for labor only and then pay the bill you have on the account?

    Also— is there a complete list of all the different paint scenarios youve made choices for?

    1. Hey Robb,

      Things have changed a bit since I posted this. Back then, I had the account at the paint store and my contractor would purchase under my account and I would pay the bill. These days, my painters get better discounts than I do, so they just give me bids for combined labor/materials and they buy the paint. This actually makes it even easier for me, as now I dont have to deal with the paint costs/account separately.

      For interior we use the same paint colors for every house. We vary the exteriors (my wife enjoys the process), but I dont think weve documented the color schemes. Thats a good idea, though!

  5. i am ready at least 2 of your articles for 4 days now, it like an addiction. I cant seem to stop. I am very eager to pull the trigger – cant wait to invest in my first flipping project 🙂
    thanks you for sharing you knowledge.

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