Can You Drill Holes In Apartment Walls? (Find Out Here)

Updated February 2, 2022
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So, you’ve successfully moved into a new apartment, and now it’s time to start making the space feel like home. With an empty apartment comes a world of possibilities: beautiful artwork, charming curtains, and stylish mirrors.

But with decorating your apartment also comes the age-old question: “Can I drill holes in apartment walls?” The short answer is: it depends. A yes or no answer would be convenient, but each property and management team is different.

Not sure where to start when it comes to your rental property? We’ll help you find an answer with this helpful guide.

couple trying to drill holes in apartment walls

How to Know if You Can Drill Holes in Apartment Walls

Since each apartment building and unit is different, your primary point of contact for questions about drilling nail holes will be your property manager or landlord. Sometimes, there will be rules in place, and other times exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis. A good time to ask about nail holes is during the apartment tour.

In most apartments, you can make changes as long as you return the unit to its original state before your lease is up. This goes for nail holes, paint, and contact paper.

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So, typically, you are safe to drill or nail small holes in your apartment walls as long as you fill the holes before you move out. But always double-check before proceeding.

agent giving apartment tour to young couple wonder if they can drill holes in apartment walls

Reference Your Lease

If you’ve already signed a lease and gotten the keys to a new apartment, you may be able to find the answer to your question in your lease. Some landlords will note if you are allowed to drill holes or not.

If your lease states that you are not allowed to hammer nails into the wall, it may also outline how much money will be deducted from your security deposit per nail hole. If your lease has specific rules about nail holes, it is always best to follow those rules so that you get your entire security deposit back upon moving out.

couple referencing lease to see if they can drill holes in walls

Contact Your Property Manager Directly

If you can’t find any information about nail holes in your lease, don’t just hope you’ll be in the clear. Always check with your property manager or building caretaker before drilling nails. Your property manager may ask how many nails you intend on using and where.

Depending on your plans, your property manager may give you the green light, allow some of the projects to proceed, or ask you to refrain entirely. Typically (not always), your property manager will allow you to hammer nails in the wall as long as the holes are properly filled before the next tenant moves in.

man asking property manager if he can drill holes in apartment walls

Reasons for Drilling Holes in Apartment Walls & Alternative Options

There are many reasons renters across the country hope to use nails in their apartment walls. Often, heavier objects need the support of a strong nail or screw.

Hanging Frames and Artwork

Most people can’t wait to decorate their empty walls with artwork and pictures of their friends and family. Covering the walls with canvases and frames is one of the best ways to make your apartment feel like home.

It may seem easiest to hammer nails into the walls to support the gallery wall you’re envisioning. But when it comes time to fill those nail holes before the end of your lease, you may be looking at dozens of holes in the wall. It’s usually best to use alternative methods of hanging your pictures unless a certain frame is very large and heavy.

woman hanging a picture in a plain wooden frame

Alternative Options for Hanging Pictures

In recent years, there has been an invention that has changed the game in damage-free wall-mounting. Enter: 3M Command Strips.

Command Strips are an adhesive alternative to nails. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and purposes. When it’s time to take down picture frames and art, the strips come off cleanly without causing damage to the wall.

Tip: Be sure to follow the package instructions when removing Command Strips. If the strips are removed incorrectly, you could end up chipping paint on the wall.

Command Strips come in hooks, strong velcro picture hanging strips, and even canvas picture hangers. Almost every picture frame or piece of wall art can be hung up with the help of Command Strips.

Installing Curtains

Many renters prefer to install curtain rods and curtains to add more character to their rooms. The generic window blinds that come with the apartment can feel impersonal if left alone.

Curtain rods often come with hardware and screws that are meant to be used to mount the rod. If installing a curtain rod the traditional way, you could end up with anywhere between three to seven large holes in the wall. Additionally, if you need to screw holes into the window trim instead of the wall, those holes can be difficult to patch.

man installing curtains in apartment

Alternative Method for Installing Curtain Rods

Remember the trusty Command Strips that we mentioned for hanging pictures? They can also come in handy when it comes to installing curtains.

The key here is selecting the right size of hook. Command Hooks range from tiny hooks for string lights and keys to very large hooks. When it comes to installing a curtain rod, opt for the largest hooks you can find at a department or hardware store or online.

Typically, you find large Command Hooks in a color that matches your curtain rod, such as:

  • White
  • Black
  • Silver
  • Metallic bronze

Curtain rod hooks come in a pack of two hooks. Two hooks per curtain rod will be sufficient to hold each one.

Mounting a TV

Mounting a TV on the wall is a stylish and modern way to create an entertainment area. However, TVs are very heavy and require significant support from nails and screws.

When it comes to wall-mounting a TV, Command Strips cannot handle that much weight. To mount the TV, you’ll likely need to drill a mounting kit into the studs of your wall. This typically requires at least four large holes.

If you are determined to mount a TV on the wall, definitely ask for your landlord’s written permission before proceeding. Since this project would result in larger holes, your property manager may have rules in place.

Man mounting new TV on the wall having to drill holes in apartment walls

Alternatives to Wall-Mounting a TV

Since you can’t rely on adhesive mounting strips for this project, you’ll have to rely on a different piece of furniture. TV stands can be attractive pieces that tie the whole room together- with no nails required!

You can find affordable TV stands on online marketplaces or purchase new assemble-yourself pieces at department and furniture stores alike. If you find a TV stand with cabinets or drawers, you can even use it as added storage.

How to Fill Nail Holes

So, you’ve used Command Strips and Hooks wherever possible, and your TV is safely resting on an aesthetically-pleasing TV stand. But what about those few items that required nails, like mirrors or large picture frames?

As soon as you start packing up your belongings to move out, you will see some nail holes in the wall staring back at you. Before you leave your apartment behind, you must properly fill any holes in the wall. Do so by following these steps:

  1. Purchase the correct nail hole filler (spackle) based on your wall type: drywall, plaster, or wood
  2. Fill the hole with the putty compound and let dry
  3. Sand the patch down with sandpaper
  4. Paint over the patch to match the walls

You can find nail hole filler at most hardware and department stores. Be sure to use an accurate color match when you paint because if your patch stands out as the wrong color, you may get penalized on your security deposit. You may even be able to ask your property manager if they know the paint brand and color used in your unit.

When you properly clean your apartment, fill the nail holes, and avoid damage, you deserve to receive your entire security deposit back. At Bigos, we pride ourselves on being a fair rental management community, so you can always trust us with your deposit.

You Have Options for Decorating Your Apartment

While most landlords allow small nail holes as long as they are filled before moving out, you still have plenty of options if they aren’t allowed. Use a variety of adhesive mounting strips and hooks for most of your projects. (Even if nail holes are allowed in your unit, we recommend using Command Strips whenever possible to lessen the amount of future work.)

Can’t stop dreaming about decorating your very own apartment with art, curtains, and furniture? Find the perfect Twin Cities home with the help of Bigos.

Contact us today to learn more about our available units. Our friendly team is happy to answer any questions you may have.

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