In partnership withKILZ®

How to Paint Your Rental — and How to Revert It Back to White When You Move Out

published Apr 26, 2021
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Credit: Ana Hard

In a rental, customization is key to transforming an ordinary apartment into an extraordinary space. Paint is the easiest, fastest, and least expensive way to remake a room — and it’s rental-friendly, as long as you revert the walls back to renter’s white before you move out. (We also suggest getting your landlord’s permission.) Whether you’re personalizing your home or trying to get your deposit back before moving, read on for the secret to easily reversible walls.

KILZ® Primer covers up color, plus it seals and blocks stains, so you can (1) start fresh in a new space and (2) leave a place looking better than you found it when it’s time to move. When you’re moving in, use KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer for sealing and stain-blocking. When you’re moving out, KILZ 3® Premium Primer has a high-hide formula for concealing darker colors. 

What You’ll Need

  • KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer to Add Color
  • KILZ 3® Premium Primer to Hide Color & Revert to White
  • Spackling Supplies: Putty Knife, Spackling Compound, Sanding Block
  • Latex Paint
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Quality Paint Brushes: 1 Angled & 1 Regular
  • Quality Rollers and Roller Handle
  • Roller Paint Pan
  • Painter’s Mask/Gloves/Eye Protection

Moving In

Credit: Ana Hard

1. Clean, spackle, and apply painter’s tape.

Cover your furniture and floors with tarps, then wipe down your walls with a rag to remove any dust or cobwebs. As you work, note any holes or cracks to be filled. After cleaning, fill holes by applying spackling compound with a putty knife, using the knife’s edge to remove any excess until you can’t see an indent. Let the compound dry completely, then give the area a once-over with a sanding block to smooth it out. Unscrew any outlet covers, and apply painter’s tape along floors, trim, and anywhere you need a clean, sharp paint line.

Credit: Ana Hard

2. Prime with KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer.

KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer creates a smooth surface for the paint application and ensures a more color-true look from your top coat. It also cuts down on the number of coats you’ll need to apply.

Working from top to bottom, cut in edges with a brush and roll out the rest. Quality brushers and rollers make all the difference—make sure to wash them well before reusing. Angled brushes work best for cutting along the ceiling, molding, trim, and around electrical outlets. Roll on paint starting at the ceiling and working your way down, using M or W motions to ensure smooth coverage. Let the wall dry completely, and touch up any areas where the old paint color still shows through.

Credit: Ana Hard

3. Once the primer is dry, paint your bold color. 

Now that your walls are primed, go ahead and add your paint. Stir it well, and use the same techniques you learned with the primer to paint your walls. Once complete, let your walls dry fully before applying a second coat. To speed up drying time, use good ventilation to keep warm air circulating through the room. When your walls have dried, remove the painter’s tape and save your equipment. (You’ll need it again when it’s time to move out!)

Relax and enjoy your beautiful home! And then, when you’re ready…

Credit: Ana Hard

Moving Out

4. Ready to paint it back? Prep!

If you created holes or your apartment had some wear and tear, follow step 1 to clean, spackle and prepare your walls.

Credit: Ana Hard

5. Conceal any color with KILZ 3 Premium Primer.

Primer is key to getting your walls back to renter’s white. This time you’ll use KILZ 3 Premium Primer, which has a high-hide formula that’s great for painting over bold or dark walls. Follow step 2, cutting in your edges with a brush and then rolling out each wall.

Let the primer dry. If your paint color still shows through in some areas, touch up your walls with a bit more primer and let them dry completely again. If the paint is high-gloss or very dark, you might need two coats of primer before moving onto renter’s white.

Credit: Ana Hard

Step 6. Paint your walls white.

Once priming is finished, paint the room with one or two coats of white paint on the walls. Make sure to get the color name and number from your landlord!

It’s a bit of work, but it’s worth it. Paint is so much more than just decor—it sets the mood of your space every single day. So, pick up some primer and start living with a color you really love!