Moving out of your apartment is bittersweet. You pack up all of your things, begin moving furniture, start taking down wall art — and find yourself face-to-face with several small holes and one the size of a golf ball you accidentally made one night and then covered with art.
After living in an apartment for at least a year, there's bound to be some minimal damage to the walls. While some wear-and-tear is normal and built into your lease, fixing minor damage before moving out will ensure you get back your full security deposit. Plus, you'll stay on good terms with your landlord, who you may need for references down the road.
You might panic and find yourself searching "how to fix wall damage." Fear not, we've got you covered there. To make sure you leave your apartment in good condition before moving out, take a look at these normal damage issues and their fixes.
To start, you should go room by room and check all the existing walls for damage. There are different types of wall damage that can occur in your apartment, ranging from drywall damage to tiny holes. And, each repair requires the right tools. Knowing how to fix them is key to success.
While you can use your family handyman to do the job, there are also a lot of ways to do DIY repairs. Here's how to tackle each type of damage you may come across.
After taking down the photos from your gallery wall, you probably noticed the many small holes left by the nail head used to hang the frames. Patching a small hole left by nails, tacks or screws is simple and will leave the damaged walls looking great again. Here's what you'll need.
To start, squeeze a small amount of the spackle or joint compound onto each small hole and then use your putty knife or utility knife to spread a thin layer and blend it over the hole and wall. Once the spackle or joint compound is completely dry, use the sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the wall. Make sure to really focus on the area around the edges so that you leave the wall smooth and flat around the repaired area. If this doesn't do the trick, you may use a little touch-up paint to repair the damaged walls.
In a real pinch, you can use some materials around the apartment to fill the hole. Plain white toothpaste or baking soda mixed with white glue can also work to fill nail holes but aren't recommended unless you absolutely have no time to get the right materials. Lastly, it's always a good idea to vacuum and clean up all your joint compound dust after repairing the wall.
Now it's time to tackle that large hole you hid under your favorite painting. Holes larger than those made by a small nail need serious drywall repair.
Luckily, you don't have to fix the entire wall and it will most likely cost you less than if you were to hire the family handyman or let your landlord handle it and then deduct it from your deposit. Here's what you'll need to repair the drywall and it can all be found at your local hardware store.
First, you're going to want to use your framing square and pencil to create an even square around the large hole. Next, cut your plywood with your drywall knife so that it's a couple of inches bigger than the hole itself. Then, place the plywood into the hole with the extra inches behind the large holes.
Screw the plywood into place using your drywall screws. Then, cut out a piece from the drywall patch and using a drywall screw, drill it into the wood covering the hole. Take the drywall joint tape and cover each side of the square with the tape.
Using your drywall knife, apply thin coats of joint compound and let it dry. Or, if you're using a piece of drywall compound, attach the paper edges to the joint compound leaving the paper backing intact.
Once the first coat has dried, take the knife and scrape off any bumps created by the joint compound. When the area is completely dry apply a second layer of joint compound to the drywall surface making sure everything is smooth and even and then let dry.
Once it has dried, sand lightly on the area to match the existing wall making sure not to sand too hard. If you have asthma or sneeze easily, then you could consider wearing a dust mask while sanding. Finally, it's time to prime and paint! Grab your primer and paint roller and paint the wall making sure it matches the surrounding paint. Make sure to use the proper brushes as to not accidentally get paint on the adjacent walls. You'll want to have enough for two coats of paint. Finally, take a step back and look at your gorgeous repaired area. Bye-bye damaged walls!
Though scuff marks likely aren't going to cost you any of your security deposit, they make the apartment appear dirtier than it is and make more work for whoever has to clean it. Scuff marks are one of the easier fixes when it comes to touching up your apartment walls as they don't usually affect the whole wall or leave damaged drywall leading to drywall repair.
You also don't have to tackle all the scuff marks in your apartment. Generally, it's best to pick the worst ones and start there. A magic eraser works wonders to get rid of them, so pick up a couple and your walls will be white again in no time. If that doesn't work, you can sand lightly to clean the surface.
Joint tape can become loose tape if there has been previous water damage and can become very noticeable and leave a hole in the wall. Luckily, it's pretty easy to repair. Here's what you'll need.
Using the taping knife, cut out the loose tape from the wall.
Spread a thin layer of joint compound over the area, add fresh joint tape and let the first coat dry overnight.
Sand the area smooth and, if needed, add a second coat of joint compound.
The corner bead is the spot on the wall where you'll see the drywall meet. And maybe you accidentally dented the corner bead of your wall while moving furniture around. Don't worry, we've all been there. Fixing the corner bead is relatively easy and here are the supplies you'll need.
Start by using your saw and cut a half-inch below and above the damaged area. Then, very carefully, remove the damaged corner bead.
Place the new corner bead in place and secure it with drywall screws.
Apply joint compound and let dry. Then, sand smooth and paint the first layer. If you need a second coat of paint, go ahead and paint again.
You wanted to make your apartment your own so you added a little wallpaper or tile to the walls. Now it's time to remove them but the paper also removes the top layer of paint. It may seem like a huge deal at the moment but like the other damaged walls with large holes, it's easy to fix. You'll need some of the same materials as listed above.
Remove the wallpaper or tile following the manufacturer's instructions, if needed.
Using the joint compound, patch drywall using skim coats to the area and let dry. Again you'll possibly need to add a second coat depending on the wall. Once dry, sand and smooth the area.
Using paper tape, tape off the area you're going to paint. Paint the wall with one or two coats and let dry.
Nail pops are sneaky, even sneakier than large holes or a pesky corner bead. A popped nail occurs when the nail head inside the wall or structure starts to protrude out of the walls. This typically isn't the renter's fault and while you can fix the popped nail, it's probably best to call a handyman for this one.
Drywall surface damage isn't the only damage to look out for when leaving an apartment. If you have several rooms, it's important to go room by room and assess what damage and drywall repair you need to complete. Here are other areas to look at.
If you're a red wine drinker living in a carpeted apartment, you probably know a thing or two about removing carpet stains. Tackling stains before they get a chance to set will help your carpet look better overall, but before moving out, peruse the carpet for any stains you might have missed.
Try using baking soda or carpet cleaner first. If that's not strong enough to remove the stains, consider renting a carpet cleaner from your hardware or grocery store. They're easy to use and your carpets will be unrecognizably clean when you're done.
Now that you've fixed the stains on the carpet, is it still intact? If there's damage or if it's started to come loose around the edges or any other damage, you'll want to get it fixed.
Even if you have to hire someone, it's likely cheaper than having your landlord take it out of your deposit.
Renters love apartments with hardwood floors because they're much easier to clean than carpet, but they do have one common problem: Hardwood is easy to scratch.
There are a couple of quick fixes for the shallower scrapes, though. Many people swear by the walnut method, which involves rubbing a raw walnut along the scrape until the scratch blends into the rest of the floor. This method works well, just not on deep scratches and darker woods.
For deeper scratches, look for a wood-colored marker or pencil at the hardware store. These products are specifically made for filling in and disguising the scrapes.
If any light bulbs burned out in places that you can easily access, now is the time to take care of them. If there are some that are difficult to reach, such as in high up or complicated fixtures, you might need help or for your landlord to handle them.
Even so, replacing any easily accessible ones that burned out will give your landlord less to repair and take out of your deposit.
Deep clean your apartment to ensure you get your full deposit back and to give your landlord less of a headache when he or she is trying to ready the unit for the next renter.
Give everything a good wipe down, sweeping and dusting, but spend extra time in the kitchen and bathroom. The refrigerator, microwave, oven and stove should all be thoroughly cleaned, along with the toilet, shower, tub and sink.
This isn't a repair but is crucial to getting more of your deposit back. Take photos of the current state of everything in the apartment that you couldn't fix yourself.
Having this documentation helps as a later defense, in case your landlord takes too much out of the security deposit. Having photos will work much better than your word against theirs in case things end up in front of small claims court.
Taking the time to do apartment repairs is annoying. But, if you want your deposit back and stay on good terms with your landlord, it's a good idea. As they say, "you should leave a place nicer than you found it," and your apartment is no exception.