I am… pretty rough on my rental apartment. I’ve painted, nailed, drilled, peeled and stuck tiles, changed light fixtures, and shuffled furniture around more times than I can count. This has inevitably led to people asking, “is it worth it for a place you don’t own?” and to that I say: absolutely, 100 percent yes.
For some of the more permanent updates I’ve made (like painting wood doors), I did check with my landlord first, and this is one of the biggest hoops I think people are nervous to jump through. It’s awkward to say, “hey, can I fix this ugly blemish on the house you own?” but I’ve been met with a surprising amount of, “sure, do whatever you want.”
So, to that end, I like to think I’m a motivational speaker for renters afraid to make changes to their spaces. Swap out that boob lamp! Hammer in that drywall anchor! Live out your floating shelf dreams! Now, especially, when we’re spending a lot of time staring at our walls, hanging your favorite items is well worth the patch job on your way out.
Luckily, of all the home-improvement tasks, patching holes in walls is extremely straightforward. I’m even willing to bet if you didn’t read on and just went for it, you’d figure it out. But you don’t have to, because I’ve done it approximately 6,854 times, so I’ll walk you through it.
Flatten out the surface you’ll be spackling as best you can, so for example, if you yank out a drywall anchor and it pulls some dried paint up with it, just rid the area of any bubbling or excess material. It’s always best to start with the most structurally sound piece of wall as possible.
If your hole is ¼ of an inch wide or larger, you’ll want to reinforce the spackle with some drywall tape. It’s not so much “tape” as it is sticky woven fiberglass threads which give the spackle something to grip onto. Cut a piece a little larger than the hole, and stick it on.
Spackle time! This is the fun part: it’s like playdough on the wall. If you’re patching small nail holes, you won’t even need a putty knife, I usually just dip my finger in and add a tiny dollop to the hole. For larger holes, though, you’ll use the putty knife to scrape off excess and get as smooth a finish as possible. I’m not too precious with it, either, because it always needs to be sanded after anyway.
Let your spackle fully dry before moving onto the next step. Some of them start pink and dry white so you know exactly when it’s set, but in general, spackle is really quick to dry, and you’ll likely be able to add another layer or sand it down within an hour.
Once your spackle is fully dry, give it a sand first with 150 grit sandpaper to get the larger imperfections out, then follow it with 220 grit to buff the area totally smooth.
Wipe your newly patched wall clean with a damp cloth to clear away any dust, and you’re ready to paint! How easy was that?
What was the last thing you mounted on the wall that needed patching? Tell us below!
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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.