No doubt – painting is one of the fastest and easiest ways to give an apartment a fresh new look that can make the space feel uniquely yours – but is it worth it? 

Painting can take care of dirty walls and woodwork, or provide a splash of a new trendy color, but most lease agreements don’t allow a tenant to paint their apartment. Plus paint isn’t exactly cheap and painting can be labor intensive. Great Guys Painting covers the pros and cons of painting your apartment so you can decide if it’s worth it.

Do You Own or Rent Your Apartment?        

You Own Your Apartment

If you own your apartment, you can probably paint it a different color every month if you want to. Just keep in mind that: 

  • Simple projects like painting an accent wall or some trim don’t typically require building approval. 
  • Bigger projects that involve hiring a crew definitely require approval from your superintendent or building manager. 
  • To avoid fines, you’ll need to comply with building regulations that involve commercial crews entering and working in the building. 
  • Before you start collecting paint swatches, check your building’s rules and restrictions regarding painting. 

You Rent Your Apartment

Most lease agreements clearly specify what renters can and cannot do, especially when it comes to making any types of changes in the unit. Some leases may allow a tenant to paint while others specifically prevent any painting by the tenant. To avoid the risk of eviction, be aware that: 

Before you paint, read your lease contract. 

  • Larger buildings that have many units are usually stricter about what tenants can and cannot do in their apartment. 
  • Your contract probably outlines any rules or restrictions about painting so be sure to pull out your paperwork and read the fine print. 
  • Even if your lease permits you to paint, it’s safest to get permission in writing. 
  • If you rent in a small complex, you may have the opportunity to get to know your landlord. Once your landlord knows you’re a responsible tenant, you may have more leeway in being able to paint.

Painting can be expensive. 

Even if you can find paint on sale at your local hardware or big box store, the expense quickly adds up.

  • You’ll need to consider the amount of paint you’ll need plus all the supplies you’ll have to buy: brushes, rollers, extension rods, paint trays, sandpaper, filler, putty knife, tape, tarps, and maybe even primer. Oh, and a ladder! 
  • If your apartment building contracts out painting, you may have to buy the paint through the in-house contractor at a higher cost.
  • If you’re not planning to stay long-term, the expense of painting might not be worthwhile.

Painting requires effort.

Painting is a lot of work and requires some experience to get it right. If you’re a beginner painter, you could be at risk of losing your security deposit if the final product looks sloppy and unprofessional.

Be prepared to repaint.

In most cases, you’ll need to return the apartment to its original color before you move out. This is a cost you’ll need to factor in. So it really gets pricey when you consider the cost of two paint jobs. 

  • Usually, apartment owners are okay with neutral colors but you should be prepared to have to repaint and bring the apartment back to the colors it came with when you signed your lease. Also, you’ll need to paint again before you move out if you choose bright, dark, or super-trendy colors. 
  • Some of the safest colors to paint a rental apartment include various hues of tan, cream, gray, or warm whites. Beware that when you use intense colors like reds, pinks, or fluorescents, several coats of primer may be necessary because those colors are difficult to cover.
  • Be sure to talk with your landlord before painting, even if your lease allows you to paint. The courtesy will be appreciated, and it’s an ideal time to discuss the colors the landlord may accept. 

Consider your moving timeline.

Slows your move-in and move-out process. Moving in or out of an apartment is stressful on its own. 

  • In addition to packing and cleaning, if you have to paint before you move out, you’ll need to add more days to your moving schedule. This in itself can be costly especially if you’re in a situation where the overlap of moving causes you to have to pay two rents – one for your old place and another for your new. 
  • If you don’t paint your apartment, the moving process can be faster, more efficient, and far less stressful.

What Type of Paint is Best for an Apartment?

  • Eggshell: For the walls of just about any home, whether it’s a condo, single-family home, or apartment, flat or eggshell finishes usually look best. Eggshell finishes can be easier to wipe down and clean because they have a more durable finish
  • Flat: Flat paint can conceal defects and scuff marks, but accumulates more dirt than glossier paint and is more difficult to wash. Flat paint is also best for ceilings. 
  • Semi-Gloss: Use a semi-gloss for cabinets and woodwork around doors and windows. 

How to Keep the Painting Cost to a Minimum

Maybe you’re ready for a change of color or need to hide some blemishes on the walls. In those cases, you don’t necessarily need to paint the entire apartment. 

  • For a change of scene or to brighten up a room, you can paint an accent wall. A colorful or dramatic wall can add lots of oomph to a room and is easy to repaint when it’s time to move out. 
  • If there’s just one area that needs paint to cover scuffs or blemishes, again, there’s no need to paint the entire apartment. Just buy enough paint to cover the walls in a hall, entry, or any room that gets a lot of traffic.

Instead of Painting, Try:

  • Peel and stick wall decals. These come in a wide range of motifs, compositions, and sizes. They’re easily removable without damaging your walls and are a great way to accent a wall or section of a room without painting.
  • Removable wallpaper. Add a truly custom look to your walls with wallpapers that don’t leave a residue and are completely removable. 
  • Hanging colorful curtains. Curtains and drapes are available in every color under the sun and can add a wonderful pop to the walls in your apartment. Lightweight curtains are very affordable – plus you can take them with you when you move!
  • Hanging canvas prints. Canvas paintings and prints come without frames so they are light enough to hang on walls with 3M Command strips. They’re an inexpensive alternative to painting and with the choice of designs, you can truly customize your walls.
  • Selecting colorful upholstery. Neutral walls can be a terrific backdrop to bright upholstery or pieces with dramatic designs and patterns.


Save time searching for a reliable painting expert. Great Guys Painting provides free quotes so you can find out how much it will cost to have your apartment painted by a professional! Request your quote now!