Painting the Closets of your Home

So much is written about interior painting but very little is discussed online about painting the closets. For some of us, a closet is just a storage space and a convenient place to keep our clothes. Nobody ever sees them, right? Emptying the closets just for painting them seems to be a big hustle. What is someone to do with the contents when the painters are here?

The closet question always comes up during the site visit, by the estimator. The answer varies from “yes please”, to “no way I’m emptying that”.

If your home is a smaller condo, space is more limited and there is nowhere to store the contents. The painters don’t have much room to begin with, what are they to do with the closet contents? It would be nice to paint them but is it really worth the trouble?

What about the cost? Closets are relatively small spaces and don’t take much time to paint. Despite the relatively low expense, this is where customers can save money on the cost of interior painting . If nobody sees them, why spend money painting them? This reasoning makes sense from the return on investment point of view. The money saved here can be better spent painting doors, trim, maybe a bathroom or two.  

The process of painting the closets

If cost is an issue, the painters might suggest using the same colour as the rest of the room. Even if cost is not an issue, using the same colour will offer visual continuity everytime you open the doors. If the wall colour is very dark the closet will look dark and not very inviting to you. One solution is to paint it a lighter shade (monochromatic) version of the wall. The paint store can add a smaller percentage of the tint formula, 50% or 25% is best.

Another solution is to paint all the closets white. There is nothing brighter and it will definitely make the closets look bigger. White or light coloured closets will also help you find what you are looking for and eliminate the need for a light fixture. This is especially true in laundry rooms and kitchen pantries. Keep in mind that white has a tendency to mark easier, especially from shoes, belts and people in a hurry in the morning. Consider using better quality washable paint in eggshell or satin sheen.

If the closets are packed and you don’t see any of the walls, the colour makes no difference. This is the case for linen closets or the ones in a growing teen’s room.

What colour to paint the closet?

You decided to paint the closets, what is next? First of all, relax there is no need to panic. Residential painters do this for a living and paint hundreds of them every year. So here is what you do, it’s really easy. Take everything out of the closet and lay it on the bed. Not comfortable with that, then on the couch it goes! All of your belongings will be covered with thin utility plastic for protection.

The very same day you have everything cleared out, your closet gets painted, and on the same day, you can put it back together. How is that possible? The painter will start with the closets first thing in the morning. Paints today dry fast enough to allow two coats within an hour or two. After the walls and ceilings dry the closet baseboards are next. By the time you are back from work everything is dry and you can put your clothes back soon after. The outer side of the door (sometimes a bifold) can be painted at any time, even after the clothes go back.

That was easy! A lot of people find this to be a great opportunity to declutter and get rid of those items they no longer need. Think about it, your closets will now look clean and they will feel fresh, especially if this is a new home for you. Would you want to put your belongings into someone else’s closet? You already know the answer to that!

What is the best paint?

Very few of us wash the walls these days and more so inside the closet. Flat inexpensive paint works well for most of our customers needs. The shelving part is where most of the wear and tear happens and the painters might suggest that you paint it with an enamel acrylic. If you are painting doors, trim and cabinets somewhere else in the house, use the same paint for the shelving. Always keep in mind the the drying time of the coating if you are planning on using it the same day. You can find more information about the different paint sheens in this blog.

Preparing for the installation of closet organizers

Before moving in, the new homeowner may decide to install closet organizers. If the time allows it’s better to install them before moving in. To prepare for the new organizers the old shelving, hardware and sometimes the baseboards must be removed. Ask the painters if they can remove the hardware and repair the walls to prepare for the installers. After the installers do their job, have the painters come back and touch up any damage the installers created on the walls.

Whether you decide to paint your closets or not, call us at (416)733-7767 and discuss it with your estimator. If you don’t paint them it’s a good way to save some money. If you paint them, take the time to consider the colour and the type of paint.

We painted the linen closet

5 thoughts on “Painting Closets”

  1. Hi I was just wondering if it is reasonable to be charged$900 for painting two bedrooms, not ceilings or baseboards and the paint on the closet frame was only done to the outside of the door not the full piece that you see when the door is open. All the supplies were bought separately by my parents. The rooms needed no Wall repairs and are 14′ x 8’6″ and the other one is 17’x 9′. They are seniors and are now being quoted another$100 each for the closet interiors. They didn’t know the closets weren’t included as it was not discussed as a separate job and not mentioned in the quote.

    • Hi Deb, what is reasonable for one contractor is not for another. Some have high overhead expenses, some do not.
      Some have high labour costs, some do not. Geography plays a role too. Was there maybe a lot of furniture to move, drapes to move? How many coats of paint?
      Empty closets? Shelving? Walk in?
      For that reason, I can’t really say what is reasonable for another contractor and that specific situation.
      What I think are reasonable expectations?
      Did the contract state what they are painting with that price and what they are not?
      Did it specify the exact price for what gets painted and did your parents agree to it?
      There can always be misunderstandings in that process,
      that’s why a written scope of work with clear pricing is a must.
      I hope this turns out well.

  2. Hi,

    What georgezaro wrote is correct. One could also make adjustments for furniture needing to be moved vs. an empty room. Also, it matters what the paint needs are. If the rooms are different colors, more paint will be needed by the painter vs. using the same color in both rooms. Plus, the closet interiors will normally be painted white which would require another paint purchase.

    Going forward, it is critical to have a quote with a detailed listing of what services will be provided. Plus, one should ask for a certificate of insurance that is mailed directly from the insurance broker. Finally, some states require a contractors license. One should have all these covered before allowing any contractor to enter your home to do work.

  3. Just had my closet (and home) painted. I just discovered, as I was unpacking, that the painter
    did not remove the removable shelves (which I may want to change around a bit) to paint the closet. Therefore, I am left with old wall color next to the shelves if they are changed around and/or want to I leave one off for a larger space. Also he did not paint the whole shelf. He simply spray painted the closet as one unit.
    I asked him to come by and just touch up those parts. He said that what he did was “industry standard”. He said that I will have to pay more money to get the touch up done.
    Just need another opinion regarding this. Thank you.

    • I am not sure what your mutual understanding was before painting the closet, but it’s never good to be an unhappy customer. I don’t think there are industry standards that refer in this much detail about spray painting a closet. We don’t spray them ourselves but some contracrtors do. I hope you have it resolved but it’s not very difficult to touch up some paint in a closet, maybe you can find an alternative. Good luck.


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