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Selling Your House? Paint the Bathroom for a Quicker Sale

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/15/2011

Are you getting your house ready to sell and looking for some bathroom paint ideas? Here's some tips on the best colors to use as well as how to make small bathrooms look larger.

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    When you are preparing your house for sale, anything you are going to do to it, be it repainting or refurbishing the kitchen or bath, it’s best not to get into deep spending unless you can get back two dollars for every dollar spent. Otherwise, you are losing money. Here's our advice on preparing bathrooms to look their best without spending a fortune.

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    Make Small Bathrooms Look Larger

    In areas of small square footage—like bathrooms—anything you can do to make it look lighter and brighter makes it more visually appealing to potential buyers. Breathe new life into bathrooms that may not have a window by painting them the same neutral color from floor to ceiling. If there is a window, match the curtains, blinds or shades as closely as possible to the wall color to create an illusion of spaciousness.

    If the bathroom adjoins a bedroom and the bedroom needs painting as well, consider using the same shade for both rooms and paint from top to bottom in that color. This creates a visual symmetry between the two rooms that makes each space look larger and more open. Conversely, avoid accent walls because they shrink the space visually.

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    Best Paint Choices

    Here’s some bathroom paint ideas from associate broker Chuck Cosmato, “For goodness sake, in today’s market do away with wallpaper. It’s just not in like it was in the past so take down the wallpaper and paint the bathroom."

    He recommends that sellers stick with neutral, warm tones of white or beige when painting bathrooms and kitchens. As to whether you should you paint the whole bathroom or try to touch it up, Cosmato recommends that you give the walls and ceilings a good wash down before you make your decision.

    Next, step back and look at it objectively. What will the prospect see when they swing open the door? If the room doesn’t look outstanding, you’re probably better off repainting the area rather that doing spot touch-ups that could make a problem area look worse.

    He advises buyers to paint walls with a good grade latex semi-gloss paint because this is a washable finish and sellers can quickly remove fingerprints or smudges before the next showing.

    Manufacturers are making paints now where you can buy the primer and the paint all in one. Buy a good quality paint because it is better to invest your money in quality paint and paint it one time than to buy a lesser quality paint and paint it maybe two or three times to get the coverage you need.

    Flat paint is the best choice for hiding rough spots and surface imperfections, which makes it perfect for ceilings and walls. While gloss paints give a nice sheen, they could inadvertently call attention to features that you would rather camouflage. If you really want a little gleam to set off the room, consider using satin finish paint for the trim.

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    Sweat the Small Stuff

    You can repaint the whole bathroom or pay a fortune to have it professionally staged, but if you have a drawer that sticks or creaky hinges on the door, your effort could go to waste. It’s important to take care of all the little things that can spoil a sale as well as making sure that the overall bathroom appearance is neat and tidy.

    Use this checklist to help you avoid any unpleasant surprises when you show your house:

    • Avoid tapestry or large pictures, which make small rooms look even smaller. In smaller bathrooms, the less clutter on display the better.
    • Look up and then look down. This is what prospects will do. Clean cobwebs and make sure light fixtures are clean and all light bulbs work. Use the highest wattage possible to create the brightest illumination for the bathroom.
    • Eliminate odors and make sure the toilet is as clean as possible. Flush it just before prospects arrive and replace the toilet lid if it is unattractive.
    • Replace cracked flooring or tiles and patch any holes in the walls.
    • Fix leaky faucets and make sure all the metal fixtures are shining brightly. Use a little glass cleaner and a soft, lint-free cloth to bring them to a high gloss finish because even the oldest fixtures and hardware take on a new life when they are polished.
    • Windows (if there are any) should be sparkling clean, and curtains and blinds should be freshly laundered or dust-free.
    • Recaulk tubs and sinks if necessary and use a weak bleach solution to bleach the grout between tiles.
    • Clean or replace shower curtains and liners especially if they smell moldy.

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    Instant Fixes

    In addition to taking care of the items on the checklist above, here are some final tips on quick, inexpensive ways to keep your bathroom looking showroom perfect whenever potential buyers will be viewing it.

    Swap out everyday bath towels for a brand new set that is reserved for when the house will be shown. Try to buy a set that is tied with a ribbon or otherwise attractively accented and put it away when the prospects leave.

    Clean light switches and light switch covers and consider replacing them if they are dingy and dull looking. However, before you spring for new ones, give the old ones a good soak in a weak bleach solution to see if you can revive them.

    Use neutral, warm colors that will accent the walls without being visually distracting. If the bathroom is large enough, consider setting out a decorative basket, candle or potpourri—but be careful not to go overboard.

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