Why You Should Not Paint Your Apartment

by on Oct 29 2012 - 24 Comments

Sometimes when you get into an apartment you want to make it nice and your “own” place. This may lead to ideas of painting a couple rooms or even just a few walls in given rooms. This happened to my wife and I when we got our first apartment together. Since this was our first home together, we really wanted to make it a nice place, and we definitely did!

When we first moved into the apartment we did end up painting it and it looked great. Adding our new furniture and various pictures/decorations (all my wife’s doing…she has an eye for it) and a new 46″ tv (my doing!) and we had quite the place.

Fast forward a year and we are in our new house with 1,000 ideas of things we want to do to it. Unfortunately we had to spend the last week (yes, various weeknights and 9-10 hours on Saturday) getting the place painted back to it’s original color and making sure everything is clean. Looking back, we really wish we hadn’t painted. Here’s why:

  • The Costs Involved

    Simpy put, painting an apartment and painting it back costs a lot. The fun part and the expense you don’t mind is when you are moving in and get to pick the colors of each room. Painting isn’t as much a pain when you get to reap the rewards. What you have to remember is the costs involved in painting it back. Because the apartment likely has a contract with a paint company, you have no control over how much you spend on the paint. I nearly fainted when I heard a gallon was $30 – even after a 1/2 off discount through the apartment! Because of that high cost, you likely will want to prime to avoid having to use too much paint for touch up. Don’t forget materials! Before you know it you’ve spent hundreds just to have your walls the color you want while living in the apartment

  • You Will Want To Move On

    If you are moving out of an apartment or house, you will quickly lose motivation to put time and effort into the apartment that you were living in. After moving everything, you will want to clean and get the hell out. But if you painted, you will have to first paint everything back and then clean. I am fairly certain you will want to be at your NEW place getting set up, not at your old place spending hours on painting it back to how it was before. For us, it was hard to spend hours working on the apartment when we know there is so much work to be done at our new house. We still have a room full of boxes and laundry list of projects we want to tackle, but instead we were busy painting and cleaning at our old apartment.

  • Life Changes – You Could Move Sooner than Expected

    When we first moved into our apartment, we had no idea that we would only be there for a year. Had we known this, we would not have been so inclined to spend the time and money on painting (and painting it back…). The thing is, apartment management changes, rents change, jobs change, and plans change – you could find yourself at a new apartment or house sooner than you would have imagined. I know we did.

I realize that some people do not even have the option of painting and some have the option of having one wall painted a color of their choice. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are able to paint as long as you paint it back or pay someone to paint it back, take a while to think about whether it really is worth the cost.

For ways to improve an apartment without painting, check out an older post I wrote about 5 ways to improve an apartment. Just disregard #4 ;)

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Photo by Dorothy
 

22 comments
KyleMorrissey2
KyleMorrissey2

Any tips on working out the color code for the paint used in an apartment (without cutting a piece of drywall for a color match)? I'd actually just like to fix the paint job in the bathroom. The guy the building hired did a crap job and I used to be a painter about 2 years ago and know what I am doing. No interest in changing the colors. Maybe move it up to a kitchen and bath paint (they just have a matte interior paint in there now).

femmefrugality
femmefrugality

Not going to lie...I wish we could paint.  Even with the extra costs and effort involved, the white walls bother me to no end.  I want some life in this place!

JustinatTheFrugalPath
JustinatTheFrugalPath

When I first moved into my apartment I asked if I could paint. The owner wasn't too keen on the idea, so we didn't.  After reading this post I'm glad that we didn't end up painting, because it would've been a waste of a few hundred dollars. Plus, after purchasing my house I discovered how much I hate painting.

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

I have lost quite a bit of money due to unexpected change of plans, but never regret having a home that feels like a home while it lasted, so I would paint anyway.

Money Life and More
Money Life and More

I never painted because I didn't want to deal with all of the hassle. I own a house now and can paint wherever I want :)

AverageJoeMoney
AverageJoeMoney

Wow. Great tip. I totally didn't see the downside until I read your post. You're right....you'll want to, but DON'T DO IT!

momoneymohouses
momoneymohouses

Totally agree. In all the rentals I've lived in I've never painted the walls because I know I'll probably stay at the place for a year or two and then want to move on. I think until I own I won't really want to sink to much money into paint or decorations for my place.

StudentDebtSurvivor
StudentDebtSurvivor

I never painted an apartment I was living in, but I did learn the hard way (during college) that you get charged for putting holes in the walls. My college roommate and I put up an "adorable" bulletin board that ripped a good size hole in the wall when we took it down. Not only did they charge for that hole, but for every nail hole they found. I since then I've learned the "toothpaste trick" to fill small holes and the bf and I use those command strips to put up pictures in our condo.

TacklingOurDebt
TacklingOurDebt

I know what you mean about just wanting to get the heck out once you have a new place. Unfortunate that you had to paint it back to the original colour.

 

I've lived in apartments and in between each new tenant it was mandatory for the landlord to paint, but it was always a neutral colour. Many times I just left it alone, but on two occasions I wanted to paint. I got the landlord's permission in writing to paint as well as their permission not to have to re-paint prior to moving. That worked out well.

CanadianBudgetB
CanadianBudgetB

I think it depends on your landlord and what you both discuss at the beginning. Mrs.CBB said she has never had a problem in the past painting her walls white nor did she have to paint it back when she left as they were just as clean. To me, life is all about balance and risk. If you stick with a nice neutral color and you talk to your landlord I can't see it being a big problem especially if the walls REALLY need it. If they have a painting company then negotiate that into the terms of the contract. If they want your money then you want a nice clean painted apartment. If they won't budge then move on, at least that's what I would do unless it was my only option. My environment where I live should be an environment where I can relax and enjoy my time away from the world. Mr.CBB

Veronica @ Pelican on Money
Veronica @ Pelican on Money

Ouch, that's expensive to get something back to original state when you really just want to get the heck out of there! I've lived in many apts. in my life - still do and have never painted them for this very reason. However, its not to say that it's a terrible idea if you want to have a cozy place that you can feel relaxed in. Like you say, the cost of covering up dark paint with white is not worth it.

Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

Bummer about having to paint the old place. I guess white bread walls don't seem so bad when you think about painting them twice.

Ugifter
Ugifter

You make some very valid points, but I would add in that it really depends on your landlord.  Assuming you're choosing fairly generic colours and have the blessing of your landlord, many will let you paint and leave it that way.  

Holly at ClubThrifty
Holly at ClubThrifty

I never quite understood why somebody would paint their apartment. It just takes too much time and effort. Like you said, it is usally only a temporary place anyway. Of course, I hate painting, so that may be part of it too.

MonsterPiggyBank
MonsterPiggyBank

Try and see the positives - You enjoyed it at the time, and you are likely a far better painter than you were a year ago, which will hold you in good stead in your new place.

 

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @momoneymohouses I hear you.  It might be worth it, just depends how much you value having painted walls when you get home.  In reality it doesn't take TOO long to do, just an expense in time and money everyone has to weigh whether it's worth it or not.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @CanadianBudgetB I agree 100%, and I might have taken too hard a stance on this post.  Overall it might have been worth it for us because we really did enjoy having the painted walls!  Our apartment was set up as a nice place to come home to.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Eyesonthedollar Yep, though I would be very tempted to paint if we would have moved to another apartment (or if we do in the future).  The initial time and money investment is not that huge.  It's painting it back that sucks!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Ugifter Yep and our large apartment complex is owned by another even larger corporation which has set standards for ALL their apartments!  Much easier with single units or smaller apartment complexes.