What if your rental apartment walls are a cool white instead of the warm cozy tones that make you feel most at home? Or what if you want to paint the beige walls of your rental a rich tone to set off a special art collection? Can you paint the walls in your rental apartment?

Can You Paint Walls in a Rental Apartment?

There isn’t a definitive yes or no answer to the question because whether or not you can paint will depend on your lease, your budget, and your time. Here are the specifics you’ll need to know before you open that can of sunflower yellow and start rolling it on your apartment walls.

What Does Your Lease Say About Painting?

Anything you do that is in conflict with the wording in your lease puts you at risk of losing your security deposit, or in some cases, puts you in danger of being evicted. The law is the law, and your signature on a lease document is confirmation that you will abide by the laws of the contract. Even though you may have a friendly relationship with your landlord, this doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and do something your lease specifically says you can’t. 

Be aware of some various stipulations that leases have about painting:

  • Prohibited: Some leases totally prohibit painting, no matter what. Landlords face all kinds of problems with tenant-painted walls that end up costing a lot of money to fix. For example, if a can of paint spills on a hardwood floor, it’s likely the floor will need to be sanded and refinished. Some tenants are inexperienced painters and the end product looks sloppy. Other tenants paint in a rush and slosh paint over switch plates, light fixtures, and cabinet hardware. In other words, many landlords don’t want a tenant to paint because it’s so costly to fix all the mistakes.
  • Paint it Back: In some cases, a lease will allow a tenant to paint the apartment IF you paint it back to the original color before you move out. If your lease allows you to paint, make sure you ask your landlord for the brand and name of the original paint color to make the repainting job a bit easier. 
  • Hire a Professional: Other leases allow the tenant to paint IF a professional is hired to do the job.
  • Get the Landlord’s Approval: Some leases may be more lenient, especially if you’re renting in a small building. And lenient leases may allow for painting IF the landlord approves of the paint color. 

Here’s the bottom line: Read your lease carefully and follow the specifics regarding making any type of change to the apartment, otherwise you may lose your security deposit. In some cases, it can be grounds for eviction if you go ahead and paint the walls in your apartment against the guidelines of your lease. 

When Your Lease Allows You to Paint IF You Restore the Original Color When You Move

You’ve read the fine print in your lease and feel confident that you can paint your apartment walls if you restore the walls to the original color when your lease ends. Great . . . but there are some things you should know that will help prevent frustration in the process.

Avoid painting any color in dark shades or bright shades. Also avoid painting your walls orange, red, yellow, or bright green. All of those shades and colors are extremely difficult to paint over. 

If you just paint an accent wall, you’ll keep the restoration paint job simple.

Can You Afford to Paint the Walls?

Before you make the final decision to paint, based on your lease, of course, you need to realize what the cost of painting will be. 

  • Once you calculate how many gallons of paint you’ll need, don’t forget to add in the cost of brushes, rollers, tape, tarps, and more. 
  • Also factor in the expense of the restoration paint job that you’ll need to do before you move out.
  • If you think you’ll be in your apartment for only a year, consider the cost and time involved in having to paint it twice.
  • If painting isn’t allowed, or you realize it’s going to be too expensive, consider other options that will make your apartment feel like home. Try colorful fabrics like throws, pillows, and curtains – items that you can take with you when you move.

Will Painting the Walls be Worth the Time and Effort?

If you’re considering painting the entire unit, painting takes a lot of prep work. Remember that you’ll probably need to move furniture, tape off the trim around doors and windows, protect the floors, remove switch plates and outlet covers, paint on at least two coats, and clean up. Will you have the time and skill to do the job right?

Tips for Restoring the Walls to Their Original Color

When it’s time to restore the walls to their original color, follow these tips to make the job efficient, fast, and professional looking:

  • Clean first. Wipe down the walls with a sponge and warm water to remove any dust. The primer and paint will adhere better to the walls when they’re clean.
  • Use a good quality primer. The higher the quality of the primer, the better the original paint color will cover your custom color. 
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Moving is stressful enough, so you don’t want to worry about having to paint while you’re packing and the movers are on their way. Also allow time to patch nail holes and deal with other repairs before you paint.

If you feel comfortable enough to go ahead and paint your rental apartment walls but would like a pro to do the job for you, Great Guys Painting will hook you up with the best. All of the apartment painting experts in our network are insured, licensed, and reputable. You’ll save time and be assured the job will be done right when you let an expert paint your apartment walls.


Get a free quote from Great Guys Painting today and find out how affordable it can be to paint your apartment!