Condo Painting Tips (Great For Houses Too!)

Painting a condo is different from painting a house in a few significant ways. You have to deal with building rules and regulations, as well as working in a tighter space. But it will be a fun and easy home improvement if you follow these condo painting tips. (PS: Many of these apply to painting a house too!)

Condo Painting Tips

  1. Make sure the condo board approves your plans before you shell out for new paint. If you’re renting, get your landlord’s okay, too – and clarify who pays for painting.

  2. Notify neighbors in advance, so they won’t be surprised by inconveniences like odors (which will spread to common areas, even if you use safer, healthier low-VOC paints) or a crew of painters tying up the elevator.

  3. Deal with your stuff. Unlike a homeowner, you won’t be able to stash belongings in the garage, basement, or yard while the work is in progress. Squeeze as much as possible into your storage locker, then move large furnishings to the center of the rooms, and cover well.

  4. Will the painting be a DIY project? Arrange to borrow or rent some of the tools you’ll need (see below), rather than purchasing them.

  5. Carefully calculate how much paint to buy. While a little leftover is great for touchups, remember you have limited storage space. Very. Limited. Storage. Space. Figure 1 gallon of paint per 400 square feet of surface – more if you’re covering a dark color.

  6. Whether you’re going to do it yourself or hire a painting contractor, double-check the days and hours that work is permitted in your building, and schedule painting accordingly.

  7. Check, too, for any special rules about painting limited common property, such as railings of outdoor areas (your balcony or terrace) or your condo’s front door.

  8. If you decide to use professional painters, find out where the crew members can park while they’re working in your unit.

  9. Clarify your building’s rules for disposal of paint cans once the job is done.

Painting Tips for Everyone

Take time to prepare for painting the right way. Move furniture, remove electric socket and switch covers, get rid of peeling paint or mold, and clean and repair walls. Prime if you’ve made a lot of repairs or are going for a much lighter color. Prep is time-consuming, but worth the trouble; it makes the paint job go easier and last longer.

Invest in high quality paint. Once again, top quality paint and primer will cover your walls much more smoothly and evenly, and prove more durable over the long term. It will also look fantastic, so don’t cheap out.

Dry paint quickly. Choose a dry, breezy day for painting, mild enough to leave the windows and balcony door open. If you’re in a rush, speed up drying with a fan, space heater, and/or dehumidifier.

Design Folly/flickr

Basic Painting Tools

  • Cleaning supplies for walls

  • Spackling and putty knife

  • Sandpaper

  • Paint, primer, and stirrer

  • Brush(es), roller, and tray

  • Drop cloth(s)

These Extras Make Painting a Lot Easier

  • Ladder or stepstool. I own a folding aluminum ladder -- simple to move and to store (even in my 800 sq. ft. condo). It features a ledge with tool holes and hooks, plus a shelf perfect for holding a paint tray.

  • Tray liner for simplified cleanup

  • Roller extender

  • Cutting brush or edge-painting tool to avoid covering everything with hard-to-remove painters tape

  • Razor blade, for removing paint spatters from window glass

Best Paint Colors for Condos and Other Small Spaces

New neutrals. Avoid white, the old standby for compact spaces, which can actually make your rooms look smaller, and the other standby, beige, which is just so … well … beige. Try subdued-but-not-boring shades of lavender, gray, or turquoise.

Your favorite color. After all, you’ll be living with the paint color up close and personal in a small condo, so go for something you love (in moderation if it’s really bold).

A lighter or darker version of your main color for the ceiling. Rule of thumb: If your ceiling is 8 feet high or less, paint it two shades lighter than the walls. If it’s higher than 8’ (lucky you!), go two shades darker.

condos CCSCA/flickr

Laura Firszt writes for 

Get Free Quotes

Looking for a Pro? Call us at (866) 441-6648

Get Free Quotes
  • Service Needed
  • Zip Code
Get quotes from qualified local contractors