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Apartment Decorating Guide: 6 Alternatives to Nails and Screws

Getting your first apartment is exciting. For many, it’s one of the first opportunities to decorate a space that’s all yours. 


Getting your first apartment is exciting. For many, it’s one of the first opportunities to decorate a space that’s all yours. 

Many landlords don’t share that same excitement. Usually, as you sign the lease and hand over the rent check, they remind you that you cannot use nails or screws to hang pictures, mirrors, and any other decorative accessory. 

Make sure to keep in mind what kind of walls you are working with. You will have to be careful when you have textured walls. Some texturing will not stand up to almost any method. A good idea is to check the texture for stability. Also, if you are going to be using some sort of adhesive system, read the instructions carefully. These systems require some specific wall preparation. Lightly dusting a wall off with your hand or a clean rag is not enough to remove any surface dirt or oils. 

What methods will satisfy your decorating desire and at the same time make your landlord happy? Check the walls first to see if there are any existing hooks you can use and avoid putting anything into the walls. 

  • Lean your decorations against the wall. Put the frame on the top of a piece of furniture or the floor and lean it against the wall. This is the quickest and easiest way to handle this situation. It is an especially good idea for large pieces of art and mirrors. 

  • Use adhesive strips. Adhesive strips that are attached first to the wall and also to the picture frame. Be careful and measure carefully so that all of the strips line up evenly. Read the directions carefully for cleaning before you put the first strip on the wall.

  • Use adhesive hooks. There are picture hooks available that have an adhesive backing so they don’t ruin your walls. Attach the hook to the wall, then hang the picture on the hook. Read the directions and measure carefully. 

  • Double-sided adhesive tape can be applied to the back of the picture or mirror, not to the wall. The artwork is then pressed against the wall. Measure carefully and make sure you are not twisting the artwork as you put it on the wall. 

  • Press in hooks are great to use but do require that you drill a small hole in the wall and then insert a curved wire hook. If you decide to use these, make sure your hole is as small as possible and out of the way. 

  • Use a decorative ribbon or wire strung between 2 hooks. This will give you a clothesline on which to clip pictures. Make sure that the ribbon or wire is hung straight and is enough to handle the number of pictures you want to display. 

If you are careful about where and how you hang your pictures and artwork, you can create a display that will please both you and your apartment landlord.

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