Cosmetic Surgery or Botox for Drywall
July 7, 2010 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I am vacating my room--one bedroom in a multi-bedroom apartment. So that potential future occupants like what they see and want to sublet said room, I would like to fill the tack holes I left in the drywall. Plus, there are several long, very thin cracks that have formed on the walls over the past eight years. How do I give the room a cheap but passable make-up job? What materials will I need to pick up?

There is also a deep-ish hole, approximately 5" x 5", near the baseboard in a corner, from a piece of furniture which I slid in its space too vigorously without checking for sticking-out parts. How can I easily patch that up?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For the small holes - I've heard from a college campus slumlord type, but not tried - toothpaste.
posted by ashtabula to opelika at 12:33 PM on July 7, 2010

Spackle for the tack-holes and cracks (with a piece of sandpaper to make sure it's smooth with the wall), and paint to match the paint that's on the walls. You can get a chip of paint off the wall and bring it into a Home Depot, and they'll match the color for you using the magic of computers. Depending on the depth of the big hole, you may be able to spackle that, too.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:38 PM on July 7, 2010

I've also heard of the toothpaste trick and google also has several positive hits for "toothpaste spackle". Benefits: It's very cheap, easy, not messy, and the landlord's contractor guys can easily undo it so they can do it their own way. Although I guess it only works if the walls are white.
posted by amethysts at 12:53 PM on July 7, 2010

You can fill the holes with caulk (haha yes) that is paintable. But a regular paint job on the room (which is lame I know) would refresh things better than any tiny patching job.
posted by Napierzaza at 1:00 PM on July 7, 2010

White out (liquid paper) for small holes.

But like Napierzaza said, it might be worth a paint job if it's been eight years.
posted by vincele at 1:17 PM on July 7, 2010

In woodwork class at school, our teacher recommended filling holes using sawdust mixed with wood glue. Apply, wait to dry, then woodstain. If it's only a small area, you can buy wood-varnish pens that you can use to draw over the offending areas, similar to car touch-up sticks.

If you've got marks on your walls but don't want to shell out on a full tin of paint, buy sample pots. They're only about a pound or two (about 3-4 dollars, I think) and they've generally got enough in them to cover stains, cracks etc. Just make sure that it matches the colour of your wall, or you'll just end up at square one again.
posted by Fen at 1:21 PM on July 7, 2010

Spackling sticks don't cost that much more than toothpaste, the stuff in the tube is probably easier to paint and will be less attractive to bugs. But you probably have toothpaste and aren't going to need the whole tube. I'd still go with the spackle. I've used it on non-white, but light colored, walls and it isn't even large nail holes weren't noticeable unless you were looking for them, but I wouldn't worry about thumbtack holes, little specks of non matching color may be worse than the tiny dots.

For the five inch hole, that's something carpenters have told me is no big deal to fix. Even off the edges, cut a piece of dry wall to match, tape it in and paint. Easy for them, not so much for me, and what would I do with the rest of the eight feet of dry wall I had to buy?

The wrong way to do something like that (and I don't suggest trying to trick the landlord with this), would be to build up the area as much as possible with plaster of paris or painter's putty, cover the rest with dry wall joint tape, and then paint over it very carefully so you don't put a hole in the tape, and then hope.

To make anything really look good, painting is going to be required though.
posted by Some1 at 1:28 PM on July 7, 2010

I'm pretty sure someone who really knew what s/he was doing would tell you to wash the walls, spackle the small holes and cracks, sand smooth, use a patch kit on the bigger hole, prime and paint the whole room. If you're going white-to-white (or similar) you should be able to get away with one coat of paint.

I don't think just taping in a piece of drywall would work very well. IIRC the preferred method is to cut a piece of wood longer than the width of the hole and also cut a piece of drywall as close to the shape of the hole as possible. Screw (with a drywall screw) the drywall to the middle of the wood but not all the way in, so you can use the screw as a handle. Maneuver this assembly into the hole so the ends of the wood are behind the drywall on either side of the hole. Holding onto the screw-handle, screw through the intact drywall into the wood piece on each side. Then sink the handle completely. Spackle, sand, prime and paint with rest of wall.
posted by lakeroon at 1:38 PM on July 7, 2010

Your local hardware store will (should) have a reinforcing, self-adhesive drywall patch that will cover the 5" hole (much easier to use than an actual piece of drywall). Stick the patch on, spread spackle thinly over the patch, then paint. I'm in the process of doing just that at home.
posted by anadem at 2:02 PM on July 7, 2010

nthing the toothpaste. Make sure you get PASTE though (more difficult than you might expect!) Or spring the extra $5 for some spackle.
posted by ista at 3:38 PM on July 7, 2010

A bar of soap rubbed over the (nail) holes will also fill them enough to be invisible.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:50 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

If there are structural reasons behind those cracks, please be honest and divulge them to the potential tenants. At minimum, this will help them to worry less when they (inevitably) reappear. Also, if you are not the owner of the space in question, make sure to be honest with the owner about those cracks so the sub-letters are not blamed for a condition that will likely return.

Other than that, the best suggestions above are:
Wash walls
Drywall patch (complete process as described)
Spot paint
posted by batmonkey at 9:06 AM on July 8, 2010

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