Thursday, July 15, 2010

how to give your rental a face lift

My house has more cracks than a plumbers convention. Big, long, other wordly cracks with bits that fall out and gaps so wide they resemble mini crevasse. After years of drought and then six months of rain the old girl has shifted significantly and her once perfect plaster walls are telling the truth about her age. 

Since the problem is basically cosmetic and the structural integrity of the house is not a concern our landlord is not particularly motivated to fix all of the issues that arise from living in a 80 year old weatherboard, cracks included. I however am a little more invested in the issue. Since I have already painted and repaired a couple of walls at the back of the house I figure 'why stop now'?

When we first moved in to this house I got permission from our property manager to paint the walls at our cost. I stuck to a simple off white (Dulux China White) and have been working my way slowly  from one end of the house to the other repairing the walls and painting. If you get permission first and stick to simple, classic colours in my experience most landlords are happy for you to take the problem and cost off there hands.

Reparing cracks and small holes in walls is a fairly simple exercise, the products are cheap and the end result always makes a huge difference to your home. To me the outlay of time and effort is well worth it. 

There are a few things to check before you start. 

1. Are your walls plaster or plasterboard? Older homes tend to have walls made of plaster, new homes plaster board. If there are cracks or the wall crumbles when you hammer a nail into it, it's probably plaster which tends to be brittle.
2. Cracks are different to holes and require different products to repair them. A crack is usually the result of movement in the buildings foundations and requires a flexible filler like No More Gaps. A hole is generally the result of blunt force and unlikely to re-open so a traditional plaster filler can be used.
3. You need to be able to paint over your repair and so either need to match the existing paint or repaint entirely. If your landlord is aware of what your doing then they might be able to tell you the name of the existing paint colour so you only need to get a sample pot.

Fixing a (small) hole

you will need

Plaster filler like Selleys Spak Filler
putty knife
medium grade sandpaper and sanding block

step 1, Clean out any debri left inside the hole. Dust and grit will prevent your new plaster adhearing properly to the old so it needs to be clean. I use a vaccume for this bit.
step 2, Prepare your plaster filler as per the manufacturers instructions and using your putty knife trowel the putty into the hole, making sure to fill it completely. Leave to dry.
step 3, When your plaster is dry sand until smooth and even (use a sanding block to avoid creating dips and bumps).
step 4, Paint over you repair.

Fixing a thin crack (anything you can't stick your finger into)

you will need

Flexible filler like Selleys No More Gaps
putty knife or trowel
medium grade sandpaper and sanding block
Corking Gun

step 1, Using your trowel, clean out any debri left inside the crack making sure to scrape away any loose plaster. Vacuum.
step 2, Most flexible fillers come premixed and in a tube. Insert your filler cartridge into the corking gun and slowly run the filler down the length of the crack.  Using your putty knife smooth over the surface of the crack making sure all gaps have been filled, leave to dry.
step 3, When your plaster is dry, sand until smooth, using a sanding block to avoid creating dips and bumps.
step 4, Paint over you repair.

Job done!

I'm going to start doing a weekly post on DIY and home decorating for the renter, a topic close to my heart and for which I have some expertise! I would love to hear what you think and any ideas for future posts, questions or advice would be greatly welcome. 


  1. My house has more cracks than a plumbers convention - hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!! That made me laugh lots this dull grey morning :) Thank you!! And I have to say I love the artwork in your house.

  2. Plastering holes and cracks has never been my strong point. But I like the idea of a DIY weekly - go for it! Btw, love your flea market finds below. Absolutely fab. Love your blog, I'll be back!

  3. Ohhhh tips on damp problems are what I need! Love the DIY idea. *s*

  4. Yes, damp problems! Holes and cracks I think I can handle but the dreaded damp is another issue. I'd love some more DIY advice especially as we are in an old weatherboard too (early 50s).


Thanks ever so for taking the time to say hi!


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