Rental House Renovation – Make More Money

Decorating a Rental House 

Why fix up a house for rent? 

The simple answer to this is that:

  •  A tenant will be more likely to rent from you. 
  • You may achieve a higher rental figure than you would if you didn't do up the rental house. 
  • If you decide to sell the rental home, you may reach a higher sales figure. 

When should I renovate my rental house?

My husband and I usually renovate our rental properties between tenants before we decide to sell a rental house. 

Below is an example of our process of rental house redecorating. We achieved great returns when renovating rental homes.

How to get the most rent for your rental house – our process

Audit your rental house

This involves walking from room to room and writing a list of what needs doing. 

It is beneficial to invite an agent to help with this. 

First, we invited the agent we have built a good relationship with over the years to appraise the property.

We walked through and discussed what needed doing/changing/renovating for every room. I firmly believe in always asking experts for their advice. It is crucial as it allows you to avoid any significant overspending.

Our agent gave us different rental estimations based on different scenarios, e.g., a price for a higher-level finish, a new bathroom, and a kitchen sink.

Also, a price for a quick paint-up throughout, leaving existing cat-scratched wallpaper on and living fittings.

Draft up a rental house renovation budget

Our rental needed a new bathroom and tiling.

We decided to get a tradesperson in to carry out the work.

The kitchen needed renovation, too, which we didn't have the time to do.

 Overall the cheapest tradesman quote was £2000 for all the work necessary. 

Ask for 3 Quotes from 3 different tradespeople.

We asked for three quotes to assess how fair they were. Then you know you aren't being overcharged, or worse still, paying for a poor-quality renovation. 

Our budget for the renovation was no more than £3500 inc carpets, tradesman work, tools, materials, etc.

Save 10% extra on top of your budget as a contingency fund

Since we werenâ€┠¢t familiar with the house, for example, the boiler could need replacing, or other things such as dampness could have been present. Many of these things you tend to discover mid-renovation!

Other things that could be unforeseen renovations: 

  • roof renovations or repairs
  • new windows or doors 
  • gas repairs 
  • drainage under the house and around. 

Set a timescale for the renovation

Remember that every day you prepare your house for rental, it is not on the market or making any money. 

Draw up a schedule of work targets, when you will achieve what, and stick to them. Decide how much time you can devote to DIY and cleaning yourself. 

Research a couple of weeks in advance with three agents to appraise the property once it is done.

Fix up as much of your rental house yourself as you can

Renovation costs for rental properties can vary massively, but a lot of the work is possible to do yourself. When you are setting your final overall budget, you need to have the following questions in mind: 

  • How much money have you got to spend? 
  • How much time can you commit? 
  • How are your DIY skills? 
  • How willing are you to learn renovation skills?

Time for a tradesman can be approx £20 an hour. If you do the work, you can yourself; this is in your pocket, not theirs.

Some things, such as painting, filling, cleaning, and garden renovation, were quickly done by balancing work commitments with a couple of hours after work/weekends. 

 If we hired a tradesman for this, it would have added an extra £2000 to our costs. Shocking, I know, but this is the bonus of writing everything down and also asking local tradesmen for quotes.

This allowed us to weigh up all the options.

Always analyze your process.

The rental business is about minimizing void periods, so be decisive when decorating a rental house.

If there is a method of renovation that you can do quicker, then do this and stop the less efficient method.

Scenario 1 I filled plasterboard walls with filler, then painted over minimal damage with an undercoat. The medium-sized room took me one day to do this job.

Scenario 2 I used ready mixed plaster to cover all bigger and minimal damage. I put two layers on and sanded between coats. This took me four days.

To save time, I used the filler approach and only used the ready-mixed plaster for damaged areas.

As a result, in week 3, I saved myself three days. I was also achieving an excellent finish for the rental.

Use Youtube tutorials to help you master new skills 

We decided to go for the higher-level finish.

This meant that I had to learn how to fill a wall to a high finish and not be afraid to try skimming a wall, as in the case of the wreck of a front bedroom.

I have no affiliation with anyone on youtube. Still, Paul Peck and the Ultimate Handyman have excellent tutorials for any DIY skills you will need to use when preparing a house for rental.

Rental house renovation toolkit

Read below if you need ideas for basic things to invest in for rental house renovations. 

Preparation Toolkit 

Wallpaper steamer

Metal filler knives – good for precision and removing wallpaper

Industrial Vacuum to deal with high levels of dust and plaster dust. 

Claw hammer to remove any annoying old nails. 

Creating smooth walls on a budget

Wall Repair Toolkit 

Filler for smoothing plastered walls and plasterboarded walls.

Plastic filler knives – good for holding filler on when working 

Metal filler knives – good for precision and removing wallpaper.


The easiest and quickest way to smooth off filler on walls is to use an electric sander. Use a lower-grit sanding sheet to start the sanding, then do a fine finish with a 120-grit sheet.

Tip – you need to make sure it has a dust extractor because filler dust is not great inhaled. Wear gloves like these to protect your hands, have a good grip, and wear a dust mask

Always check the dust mask for the purpose you need it for – there are different grades of masks for other projects. If in doubt, stay safe! 


When I finished off the walls, I also sealed the architraves and skirting boards. This looks way more professional and doesn't add much more time to your schedule once you get the hang of it. The filler gun must be a metal one so that you can control the flow of the sealer. 

Sealing Toolkit 

 Sealant (Decorator's caulk)

 Metal sealant gun

 Caulk toolkit 

Paint and undercoat

From experience, I bs best to keep things simple.

That way, you have to buy less equipment.

Buy good equipment and wash it thoroughly. 

When renovating to rent, white paint is much cheaper than fancy colors. I go for matt for walls and wood. 

Gloss paint for wood goes an off-yellow color within about three years. I found matt wood paint to still be white after this time. Again, this saves money and time when you are renovating between tenants. You can wipe down the wood, and you are good to go. 

So to focus again – you are at the final finish stage. Paint for walls and wood.

At this point, it is tempting to go crazy with your decorating budget, but this is the time to keep focused. 

Painting Toolkit 

Pro Tips

  • Going for lunch, and you don't want to wash your brushes or roller?
  • Seal them and your paint tray inside a plastic bag – this should last for around an hour.
  • Want to save time washing your trays out? Check out these paint tray liners