Best way to fix hole on painted wall?
May 26, 2012 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Oh crapsticks! What is the best way to fix a slightly gouged hole on a painted wall?

Like a good renter, I used some of those 3M picture hanging adhesive tabs to hang my mini whiteboard; while removing it, a spot of paint came off on one of the tabs and some undercoating of some sort which crumbled away so now there's a bit of a divvet as well.

What's the best way to fill in the gap and paint over it so that it's fixed? Is there some nifty way to figure out how to match the paint colour (it's creamy beige)? Aw man!
posted by mooza to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can fill in the gap with spackle -- I like Fast & Final. For a small divot you can just smooth it on with a butter knife and let it dry. Then get a bunch of different creamy-beige paint "chip" samples from the store, hold them up to your wall, and buy a small can of the closest match.

Most hardware stores will custom-match the color if you bring in a quarter-sized piece of the painted wall, but in my experience this is usually overkill.
posted by vorfeed at 9:32 PM on May 26, 2012

You can get spackle in tubes as well. Something like a credit card will help you get it smooth and flush to the wall. If it's a deep divot, don't worry about filling the hole on the first pass. Let it dry and then do a second application. See how noticeable the patches are before going out to spend money on paint.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:37 PM on May 26, 2012

I've found that a syringe filled with spackle does a great job filling in holes, particularly nail/screw holes. Fill the hole using the syringe until spackle oozes out. After the spackle dries, run a razor blade over the hole and remove any excess.

If it is more of a divot like you said then fill with spackle and run something nice and flat over the top of it to smooth it out.

As far as paint, I would ask your landlord what paint it is as you'd like to do a little touching up. Most will know and some will even give you enough to fix little things like this. If you're afraid to do this for some reason you can try to remove a chip somewhere inconspicuous and take it to a bix box store. Most have machines that can match the paint for you. I've had varying degrees of success with this as paint does change color as it dries.
posted by Quack at 10:41 PM on May 26, 2012

Don't worry about getting the spackle perfectly flat when it's wet. Let it dry and then sand it down. I find it shrinks a bit when it dries, so if you get it totally flat, it is actually indented a little after it dries, which is not ideal. But it probably depends on the brand you use.

And if your paint is quite old, it may have faded a bit, so even if you get the actual colour the landlord used, it might be darker/brighter or otherwise not quite a good match. If you are unsure, you can get a slightly darker shade and some white paint and mix them (on a plate or something) until you get it just right. And if you are matching with paint chip cards, be aware that they will look different in different lights (and maybe will change in the lights in different ways from the way your wall does!)
posted by lollusc at 10:51 PM on May 26, 2012

Spackle, although if it's a small divot I think you can probably avoid sanding if you get a flexible putty knife and do a decent job of applying it. Use more than you think you need and feather it out a little. You might want to practice on some garbage drywall (ask at the place where you're buying the spackle) if you have never used a putty knife before.

As for the paint, the first thing I'd do -- if your relationship with the landlord is good -- is ask whether they have any paint left over from when the room was painted. If they have a can sitting around (and I assume you've already checked the closets, garage, basement, etc. for cans of paint??) then you're good to go. Also, you might get lucky and they might be planning on repainting after you leave anyway, so you might be good with just putty.

In some places (not many) landlords are obligated to repaint every time a tenant leaves anyway, so if you're lucky enough to be in that situation you might be good. Also, some management companies or landlords just do that as a matter of policy, and will let you return the unit with a paintable, neutral-colored surface.

If the relationship with the landlord isn't great, then I guess I'd go the color-matching route, but that's never 100% perfect in my experience.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:04 AM on May 27, 2012

Response by poster: Ah, so that's how you spell "divot" - how embarrassing :/

Thanks all, I'm a bit afraid of asking for leftover paint as we're in the process of begging them for a gas outlet for a heater, so I'll try to spackle and match as well as possible.
posted by mooza at 1:27 AM on May 27, 2012

If you can get a paint chip you can take it into a paint store and they analyze it by computer and match the color. I get pint jars of paint like this to spot paint walls. A lot of times the color doesn't match exactly though.
posted by Melsky at 4:37 AM on May 27, 2012

If you are in a huge hurry, use white toothpaste (a trick an ex-GI taught me--they move a lot).
posted by Carol Anne at 9:03 AM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

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