Patching paint
August 28, 2012 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Emergency repair advice needed [Asking for a friend] Difficulty level: illegal sublet and probably not legal security deposit

I'm about to move out of a summer sublet, and in putting up pictures when I moved in, I used Sticky Tack to mount them. A poor choice, but moving past that...

Result: The wall itself is intact, but there are 6 silver dollar sized (and shaped) patches where the paint is completely gone. I'm moving out at the end of the week and I'd like to try to repair it myself as best I can. The wall is a grey/white color.

Other factors: I'm subletting from a woman in a building that doesn't allow subletting. I also put down a security deposit of $500, which I realize probably isn't legal in this jurisdiction, but neither of those things are the issue. Also, I don't particularly like my landlady and would prefer not to involve her if I don't have to.

Right now, it seems like my options are:
1) Ask my landlady if she has any extra paint of the color that was used on the wall that I can use to patch it (I've already checked the apartment for paint, but found nothing)
2) Eat the security deposit so the landlady can repaint

Are there any DIY options that wouldn't require involving my landlady? And don't worry, I've already learned a few lessons here, so we don't need to dwell on those.
posted by dry white toast to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Home Depot and the like have a machine that does a pretty good job of paint color matching if you bring in a big enough paint chip. Size of a quarter, maybe? You could probably get by sanding and painting and sanding and painting the holes. And, for that matter, how big is the wall? If it is a smallish you could just match the color as best as you can and paint that whole wall. Either way it won't take much paint, and would certainly be cheaper than $500.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:01 AM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can buy paint by the pint at the store, but the patches are probably going to be noticeable even if you color match it. But maybe not so noticeable that you don't get your security deposit back first.

Alternatively, you could paint the whole room. For a single apartment room that doesn't have much furniture, already has white paint and is being painted white a gain, that would take you maybe 3-5 hours, including setup/cleanup and would cost a LOT less than $500.
posted by DU at 8:02 AM on August 28, 2012

Just ask her for the paint. If you don't eyeball the color exactly -- how much do you know about color and paint? -- it won't match, and she'll be repainting and taking it out of your security deposit anyway.
posted by griphus at 8:02 AM on August 28, 2012

Can you chip out a small paint chip from the wall to bring to the paint store with you? If there's a color-matching option, you can do that, then patch the holes with spackle and paint over.
posted by xingcat at 8:02 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

A gallon of paint costs around $30. Add a few items like tape, brush, roller, one time use plastic tarp and you may add another $30. Figure $75 total tops. Add in conservatively 4 hours of your time and viola, you come out the other side with $500.

Alternatively, as griphus points out, buy $10 worth of paint hoping to match, cover the spots and hope landlord gives $500 back before she notices and if not, all you are out is an additional $10.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:22 AM on August 28, 2012

Get the paint matched at the hardware store (the machine does a fine job.) Also, note what kind of finish it is. Eggshell, flat, satin, etc. Might be easier to just paint the whole room.

You may want to get some spackle to even out the surface prior to painting. Also, there's paint with primer built in. That should make this a one-coat job.

If it's obvious what kind of finish the paint is (if your landlord is cheap, it's going to be flat) then just get a quart.

This is not a big deal. You can exhale now.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:41 AM on August 28, 2012

Best answer: Take a fleck of paint at least the size of a fingernail to a paint store.

Get them to colour-match the paint; buy the smallest size they have. This is usually a quart/litre. You likely want eggshell gloss interior latex. This will be the most expensive item, between $10 or $20. You can but the primer+paint combos, but for small spots, this won't make much difference. I wouldn't spend the extra money.

In addition, buy a tube/small tub of ready-mixed spackle compound, the smallest size you can get. Buy a cheap putty knife. Plastic is fine. Finally, buy a cheap paint brush. Normally, I'd avoid the foam ones, but for just a few holes, a $1 brush will probably work just fine. You might also want to buy a sanding foam block (medium grit), but if you're confident with your putty-knife skills, you won't need one for small holes.

Back home, spread a little spackle on the edge of the widest knife you have. Run the spackle blade over the hole, spreading it like icing. The tear in the paint will still be visible, but the area should be flat. Try not to leave any lines. Do all of them, then wait for the spackle to dry. You can check by the surface temperature. If the spackle is cool to touch, it still needs more time. Dry spackle is the same as the surrounding wall.

If you need to, sand, and spackle again. If you were careful above, this may not be necessary.

Paint. One coat should be enough. Use long strokes to feather the new paint into the wall. Don't worry if it doesn't look right when you first apply, paint dries to a different colour than it is wet.

Total cost $20-$25, total time, a half-day, mostly waiting for the spackle to dry.
posted by bonehead at 8:46 AM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

A couple more things: with latex, clean-up is a good wash in the sink. Stainless is best, but any will work.

You need something to open the paint can. The paint store will have those for free at the cash. If you forget an opener, use a flat screwdriver, or even the end of a table knife.

You probably won't need tape for spots in the middle of the wall. A full-size plastic garbage bag makes a fine dropcloth.
posted by bonehead at 8:53 AM on August 28, 2012

I would plan on painting the entire wall where you have the damage. In my experience, even the best color match isn't accurate enough that patches aren't noticeable but you might get lucky. I would plan on doing this yourself. Even painting the whole room will save you money. That is IF you think you will see this $500 back at all. Call me cynical, but it is rare that I ever got a deposit back despite being an excellent cleaner. Lame excuses like "You warped the floor with wet sweaters so I am keeping your deposit" was the norm.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:16 AM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't ask her for the paint! I had to repaint an apartment wall once and we left the remaining paint cans behind for future tenants. The landlord found them and tried to pull some kind of insane monet-grab, clsiming that we'd done irreparable damage and he would take us to court if we didn't pay him x dollars etc. Obviously he was full of shit, but it was still obnoxious.

Please don't allow the landlord to keep your deposit over this. It's a lot closer to 'normal wear and tear' than it is to '$500 worth of damage'.
posted by windykites at 1:14 PM on August 28, 2012

Excuse me... money-grab.
posted by windykites at 1:15 PM on August 28, 2012

I can't give recommendations for hardware stores near you, obviously, but I've found that smaller stores like True Value and Ace are much better bets for getting advice on what products to buy, whereas at the big box stores you're lucky if you can find someone to even "help" you find something on the shelves.

Take your paint sample to a smaller store, and take pictures after all your repairs and cleaning are done.
posted by yohko at 1:53 PM on August 28, 2012

What state are you in? Who did you pay the security deposit to? And what sort of receipt (if any) do you have for the security deposit? Lastly, are you going to be in the same town after you move out, and potentially able to go to two or three meetings during weekday business hours?

When are you moving out; if I may ask, what is your monthly rent; and have you paid your last month's rent yet?
posted by eviemath at 4:34 PM on August 29, 2012

« Older Can I/should I get a "prescription cat?"   |   Portrait of the artist as... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.