15 Places to Paint Before Putting Your House on the Market

Paint can go a long way toward making a house more sellable. Here are the key spots both inside and outside your home that should get a fresh coat before it goes on the market. 

Boost Value for Less

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boost home value with paint

Putting your home up for sale is a huge decision that can come with a big price tag, especially after you factor in the costs of necessary repairs, cleaning, and staging. But painting is one important improvement that will boost your home’s resale value without breaking the bank. Fresh paint can make a huge difference for a relatively small cost, particularly when compared with the price of new flooring, a new roof, or landscaping. Even if you can’t afford a complete interior and exterior paint job, consider painting these key spots to get a big wow factor for a small investment.

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Front Door

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black front doors can boost home value

Did you know that a black front door can snag you up to $6,000 more in resale value? "For a seller, painting a front door is one of the least expensive home prep projects, but also one that can have a powerful impact on a home's sale price," says Kerrie Kelly, a Zillow home design expert. Choose the best paint for your front door based on durability, sheen, color, and suitability for your door material. Go for a darker color, which will hold up better and give guests (and potential buyers) a bold, beautiful welcome.

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House Numbers

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Painted house number

It can be frustrating when house numbers are impossible to see from the road. This is doubly true for potential buyers who are trying to find your address for a viewing. So, if your house numbers are painted on (as opposed to nailed or screwed on), be sure to give them a fresh coat of paint to make the best possible first impression and to help people find you easily. Choose a neutral, easy-to-see color in a shade that contrasts with your home’s exterior paint. Play around with positioning to display your house numbers in the best, freshest way.

Related: 10 New Ways to Display Your House Numbers

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Mailbox

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black mailboxes red flags

Another easy fix is cleaning and painting your mailbox. Stick with the classics: A shiny black mailbox is always desirable and signals a well-cared-for home. You can easily repaint a metal mailbox by sanding it, then priming with Rust-Oleum Professional Aluminum Primer. Wait several hours for the primer to dry, then apply Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Gloss Protective Enamel in Black to the entire mailbox; use the same formula in Sunrise Red for the flag.

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Garage Door

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painting garage door

A typical attached garage door occupies up to 40 percent of your home’s facade, so repainting it can have a major impact on curb appeal. Save money by learning how to paint a garage door yourself, and be sure to set aside two to three fair-weather days for the project. White is always a popular color choice, or you can go with any shade that complements the color of your home's exterior. If your home is natural brick, consider using bronze, beige, or wood tones for the garage door.

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Exterior Trim

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painting white house trim

Be sure to pay close attention to the condition of your exterior trim before putting your home on the market. Weather-beaten, peeling, and chipped trim is a telltale sign of neglect. When painting exterior trim, opt for a paint labeled “interior/exterior,” either latex or oil-based. Oil-based yields a harder, more durable finish, but latex can offer greater mildew resistance. White trim is classic, but depending on the effect you want to create, you can also experiment with neutrals like gray or black, or with a color that's similar to your house color, but a few shades lighter or darker. If you decide to paint your home’s entire exterior, be wary of certain shades, like yellow. According to research conducted by Zillow, houses painted yellow bring in $3,408 less than expected.

Related: These 8 Home Makeovers Prove the Power of Paint

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Electrical Box

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paint power meters

Nothing detracts from a home's curb appeal like unsightly electrical boxes and outdoor A/C units. Fortunately, their metal surfaces are quite easy to paint. Start by cleaning and removing rust, then coat the surfaces with rust-preventing primer. Paint the prepped surfaces with an exterior color that blends perfectly into your home’s facade, making sure not to spray any paint on glass covers or in ventilator slats, and taking care not to seal any doors, hinges, or control panels with paint. You’ll want to check local building codes (or inquire with your condo board) to make sure there are no restrictions on camouflaging these boxes.

Related: 7 Ways to Hide the Ugly Things Your House Can't Do Without

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Decking

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staining a deck

If you live in a temperate zone, outdoor features like decks and porches can be a major selling point. The National Association of Realtors estimates that a deck can earn back up to 105 percent of the money spent on building it. But shabby, dingy, and peeling decks are not so appealing. They may even drive away potential buyers reluctant to take on the cost of fixing up your worn-out deck. That's why it's important to take time before you put your house on the market to clean, seal, and stain your wooden decking. If you have composite decking, make sure to power-wash it and double-check for mold, which can grow if boards are not cleaned every three to four years.

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Fences and Gates

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Paint wooden fences

A wooden fence adds privacy and charm to your home and garden, but a fence with flaking paint is a surefire sign that upkeep is not a priority. Renew your wooden fence and gate by removing old paint, repairing any damage, priming, and repainting. Set aside one sunny weekend for the task, and invest in Hyde’s 5-in-1 tool, which will simplify your job. To ensure that your hard work has long-lasting results, look for a mildew-resistant alkyd or acrylic paint that contains UV protectants. 

Related: The Most Affordable Ways to Fence in a Yard

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Touch-Ups

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painting baseboard

For nostalgic reasons, you may have left your kids’ “artwork” on their bedroom walls, but potential buyers won’t be enthused by crayon marks and fingerprints. Take an inventory of your home’s interior and make note of any zones that require touch-ups, but not a full paint job. Pay special attention to areas behind furniture where paint has rubbed off, kids’ playrooms, your foyer or entryway, and scuffed baseboards. If you don’t have cans of touch-up paint on hand, learn how to match paint using a variety of techniques that will save you time and ensure a flawless finish.

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Interior Window Trim

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make window trim pop

Windows are the eyes of your home, and fresh, grime-free trim makes those eyes pop. Window trim can be made from wood, vinyl, aluminum, or steel, so your choice of paint will depend on the material. You’ll want to choose a glossy finish, which repels dirt and is easier to clean than flat or eggshell. Once you select the right paint, follow these steps for prepping and painting interior trim. Fortunately, if the trim was painted previously, you won’t need to prime.

Related: The Best Trim Colors for the Home, Inside and Out

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Kitchen Walls and Cabinets

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painting kitchen cabinets

Choosing the wrong hue for a kitchen can spell disaster for home sellers. According to a Zillow analysis, “Homes with…brick or raspberry red kitchens sell for $2,310 less than expected.” Don't try to inject too much personality into this crucial space. Instead, to choose the best color for your kitchen, stick to a contemporary palette of neutrals with cooler undertones, like off-whites, grays, and slate blue. For cabinets, Zillow research points to a tuxedo design (dark bottom cabinets with white uppers) as a good bet. This two-tone look helps smaller kitchens look larger.

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Bathroom Walls and Cabinets

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Blue bathrooms sell well

Potential buyers like to project their own tastes onto a home’s canvas. This is why cool neutrals are best for most interior spaces. For bathroom paint, Zillow found that blues and light taupe offer the best bang for your buck, to the tune of up to $2,786 more in resale value. Remember that bathroom paint should offer mold and mildew resistance. Go with a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish to prevent peeling, or prep walls with a moisture-resistant primer. Don’t neglect the bathroom cabinets either. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a dull or outdated bathroom vanity. When choosing a cabinet color, remember that darker shades hide dirt better, but light colors add spaciousness and offer more decorating options.

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Behind the Toilet

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paint behind toilet

It's easy to neglect the area behind the toilet. It's hard to reach and it's not a particularly pleasant spot to clean or repaint. But when you're showing your home, details like a dirty, drab wall behind the toilet can attract notice (and not the good kind). There are two easy techniques for painting behind the toilet: Either cover the toilet and repaint the wall using a narrow roller and brushes, or buy Jimmy Sponge Stix to speed the job along. Whichever method you choose, be sure to clean and prep the area thoroughly beforehand, and match the paint color and finish to the surrounding wall.

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That Accent Wall

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repaint accent walls

Perhaps a purple accent wall captures your artistic nature, or maybe you wanted to experiment with a bold hue behind your bed. Whatever your personal tastes and inclinations, now is the time to make your home more marketable by painting those accent walls the same color as the surrounding room. Unusual wall colors and patterns can stand out like the proverbial sore thumb and make it harder for potential buyers to picture their own decor and furnishings in a space. Especially dark accent colors may require several coats of primer and several more coats of top paint to ensure there's no bleed through.

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Main Living Space

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taupe living room

Similar to the kitchen, your main living space is one of the most important factors in a home’s resale value. This is also the space you use the most, so it may require some extra TLC in the form of a fresh coat of paint. Go for a neutral gray or taupe, which Zillow found to be the most popular shade among prospective buyers. A light taupe living room may boost your home sale several thousand dollars and will instantly make your home seem brighter and larger, both in photos and in person.

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