What Rental Property Owners Should Know About Paint Sheen and Quality

What Rental Property Owners Should Know About Paint Sheen and Quality

When it comes to painting your investment property, choosing the right paint sheen or paint finish is important, perhaps even more important than selecting just the right color.

The cost of repainting can be charged to the tenant’s security deposit *if* it results from the tenant’s damage (large holes in wall) or excessive wear and tear (heavy marks or scuffing). But if your walls were painted with cheap paint or has a flat paint sheen or flat paint finish, then even normal wear and tear will leave enough unsightly scuffs and smudges to require a repainting, at your cost, to attract a new quality tenant.


High quality paint costs less over the long run.



At Valley ONE Property Management, our goal is to maximize your property’s net income over the long term. Using a higher quality paint will save you money in the long run by lasting longer. For example, a cheaper $30/gallon paint may only last 2-5 years, compared to a $50/gallon paint that lasts for 10-20 years. And the less often you have to pay labor rates and experience vacancy delays due to re-painting, the better off you’ll be. That’s why we recommend using a quality brand paint recommended by industry professionals, such as Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, or Kelly Moore.


While a flat paint sheen (or a flat finish) is the cheapest paint available, and is often used on ceilings and in closets, it fails on durability, maintenance, appearance, and return on investment.

Flat paint falls “flat” and shouldn’t be used anywhere in your rental property.

Here are the five drawbacks of flat paint and why a satin or eggshell sheen is the better choice.

1.  Vulnerability to Stains and Scuffs
One of the primary drawbacks of flat paint is its susceptibility to stains and scuffs. Due to its matte, non-reflective finish, flat paint lacks the protective barrier of higher-sheen options, making it more prone to absorbing stains from spills, fingerprints, and general wear and tear. Cleaning flat-painted walls can become a frustrating and challenging task, as attempts to remove stains may lead to further discoloration or damage.

2.  Limited Washability and Durability
Flat paint’s lack of sheen translates to reduced washability and durability. Regular cleaning or scrubbing can cause the paint to wear off or create shiny spots, making it unsuitable for tenant use. Eggshell and satin finishes, on the other hand, offer a smoother, more washable surface that can withstand normal wear and tear while maintaining its appearance for a much longer period.

3.  Difficulty in Touching Up
Flat paint can pose challenges when it comes to touch-ups. Due to its porous nature, even slight color variations in touch-up applications can become glaringly noticeable, resulting in uneven patches across the wall. When this happens, it becomes an eyesore and is a turn-off for future potential tenants. Eggshell and satin finishes are more forgiving in this aspect, allowing for seamless touch-ups that blend in with the existing paint, maintaining a consistent appearance.

4.  Lack of Reflectivity and Light
Flat paint’s matte surface tends to absorb light rather than reflect it, giving rooms a dull, darker appearance. In spaces where natural or artificial light is limited, this can make the room feel smaller and less inviting. Choosing eggshell or satin sheen enhances any room’s brightness, as they reflect light more effectively, creating a sense of openness and brightness.

5.  Lack of Scrubbing and Stain Resistance
High-traffic areas or spots prone to frequent contact, such as hallway walls or areas around doorknobs, demand a paint finish that can withstand scrubbing and resist stains. Flat paint’s delicate nature renders it ill-equipped for such scenarios, as scrubbing can remove the paint or create permanent marks. Eggshell and satin finishes offer improved resistance to scrubbing, making them a more practical option.


Rooms such as the kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms have higher moisture requiring an even more durable paint finish. For these rooms we recommend a semi-gloss finish or sheen, which is better at resisting moisture that can lead to growth of mildew and mold. It is especially important these rooms have a tougher and longer-lasting barrier with a washable (and dryable!) surface. Semigloss paint helps guard against the dangers of these more humid areas of the home.


Valley ONE Property Management uses a high-quality paint that will last longer, and we will be sure the walls of your property or unit are painted with an eggshell or satin paint finish. For doors, baseboards, and other areas of wood trim we use a semi-gloss paint sheen, and we also use a semi-gloss paint finish in bathrooms, the kitchen and the laundry room.

With these standards, we’re able to help you reduce costs and expenses in the long run, shorten turn times between tenancies, and provide long-lasting and attractive walls that quality residents will appreciate and enjoy for everyday living.