Decorating Apartment Walls Without Paint Or Nails

By Alyssa Davis

Apartments dwellers are often surprised to find out that the lease they have signed strictly prohibits the use of paint of nails on the apartment walls, which presents a huge barrier to decorating their apartments to suit their personal style and tastes. After all, most people sign a year’s lease when they rent an apartment. You can still manage to impart your own unique style in an apartment that doesn’t allow the use of paint or nails – you simply need to be a bit more creative.

Adhesive Hooks and Putty

There are some great products out there that are made specifically for hanging pictures and wall art without creating a nail hole, like adhesive hooks or putty. With adhesive hooks, you simply peel off the back of the hook and secure it firmly to the wall to hang the object. Putties are usually kneaded into a specific shape and then applied to the back of the object, and then you press the object firmly against the wall for thirty seconds or so, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, until it forms a tight hold.



Many people who live in apartments choose to cover the walls in fabric, which can be tacked up as long as tacks are allowed. You can purchase large pieces of fabric from any craft store, in various designs and colors. Choose lightweight fabric so that tacks can hold it to the wall easily. To apply the fabric to your walls, place tacks along the fabric’s upper edge along the top of your wall. Fabric is sold in square yards, so measure your wall before heading out to purchase your fabric. You can do either a section of the wall or the entire wall.

Paper Tape

You can make a striped wall using decorative paper tape that is sold in many craft supply stores and art supply stores. This type of tape will stick firmly to the wall and then just peel away when you’re tired of it or when you move. Experiment with various widths and colors to give your plain apartment walls a decorative punch.


Posters can be very decorative in apartments where you cannot paint or use nails to hang artwork. Look for posters in themes that coordinate with the style of the room in which they will be hung. Choose high quality poster hanging tape (available wherever posters are sold) to hang your posters without causing any damage to the paint on your walls.

Vinyl Letters

You can also use vinyl lettering or vinyl graphics to dress up your walls. Spelling out words like “faith”, “hope” or “love” on a living room wall can be a great sentiment. Or you can spell out your favorite quote. Vinyl letters merely cling to the wall, so they won’t damage your wall or paint.

These are just a few of the options that you have when it comes to dressing up plain apartment walls. And keep in mind that if you ask, many landlords will allow you to change the paint color in a room if you agree in writing to return the room to its original color before vacating the apartment.

About the Author: Alyssa Davis is a staff writer and specialist in decorating with

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