We all want the best-decorated dorm room in the building—which usually means hanging posters and decor from the walls and ceiling. But this can get tricky when you have to follow strict rules on how and what you can hang on the walls. Luckily, there are some easy ways to hang wall art in your dorm without getting in trouble. Here’s how to do it without costing a fortune or creating damage.
Learn the rules first!
Before you buy anything—wall art included—it’s important to read through your dorm room rules. While most schools will let you hang just about anything, others have restrictions for items made out of flammable cloth or even string lights that could start a fire. Heavy items, such as wood pieces, might be out as well, as dorms try to keep you from nailing large holes into their walls.
Secondly, learn the rules on the use of hanging materials. Many hardware stores have practically invisible hangers that make as little as a pinpoint in walls, but even those can be a big no-no if the school has a strict no-damage rule. And with some dorms doing inspections or being strict on returning security deposits, you’ll want to avoid the risk as much as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to just ask. RAs who live in the dorms will be versed in the rules, but they probably also have tips and tricks to share.
How to Hang Wall Art Without Damage
Don’t sacrifice your style because of dorm-room restrictions! There are several ways to circumvent damage with basic decorating supplies. These are some of the most popular ways to hang wall art while still following campus rules.
The quick way to decorate your walls is with mounting putty. The putty is meant to hang only lightweight items such as unframed posters, maps, and pictures. But on the bright side, it is mess-free and easy to remove. The only thing you should know before you go with putty is that it may cause damage to the actual wall art when you try to remove it. Only use it to hang items you’d be okay with ripping or that can be easily replaced. Also, do not put mounting putty on wood or uneven surfaces, as it can be a pain to get out of the nooks and crannies.
Top Brands of Mounting Putty:
- Alcolin Sticky Putty ($9.99 for a 2-pack on Amazon)
- Loctite Fun-Tak Mounting Putty ($2.99 for a single pack on Amazon)
- Elmer’s Tac ’n Stik Reusable Adhesive ($4.50 for a single pack on Amazon)
- Scotch Lightweight Mounting Putty ($6.09 for a single pack on Amazon)
Like putty, double-sided tape is perfect for lighter items that you won’t mind damaging when you take them down. What makes double-sided tape a better option is that manufacturers have made it even stronger and more durable. For example, heavy-duty tape can hold up roughly a pound for plastic-framed items or message boards. Avoid hanging on wood or plaster as tape can sometimes take paint with it.
Top Brands of Double-Sided Tape:
- Scotch Double-Sided Tape ($3.29 on Amazon)
- Gorilla Heavy-Duty Double-Sided Mounting Tape ($5.84 on Amazon)
- G-Wing Multipurpose Double-Sided Mounting Tape ($8.99 on Amazon)
- Feeke Nano Magic Tape ($9.99 on Amazon)
Hanging Strips and Hooks
One of the most popular ways to hang these days is the latest versions of hanging strips and hanging hooks. These were practically made with college students in mind with easy-to-install directions, the ability to take down with just a pull tab, and durability. You can even buy heavy-duty hooks for larger wall items such as decorated letters, wood pictures, or oversized clocks.
Top Brands of Hanging Strips and Hooks:
- Command Medium Designer Hooks (Starting at $8.99 on Amazon)
- Jinshunfa Wall Hooks ($7.99 on Amazon)
- Innoplus Adhesive Hooks ($7.99 on Amazon)
Press and Hook
If small holes are allowed, search your hardware or decor store for press-and-hook wire hangers. These kits don’t require any tools, can be removed quickly and efficiently, and create just the smallest hole in the wall. Just press into the drywall, hang, and you’re done. They are best for awkward sized or shaped items or for ceiling hangings. In fact, some of those hooks hold as much 150 pounds!
Top Brands for Press-and-Hook Wire Hangers:
- BCP Twister Stainless Steel Cable with Adjustable Hanging Hook ($8.92 on Amazon)
- Monkey Hook Picture Hanger ($11.99 on Amazon)
- OOK by Hillman Monkey and Gorilla Hooks ($9.98 on Amazon)
Quick Fixes for Light Damage
Wishing you found this post a little bit sooner? If you’ve accidentally caused some light damage to your dorm-room walls, don’t worry—there are some quick fixes that might work to repair small holes and other kinds of damages.
Repairing Damage from Adhesives
Even if you’re careful and abide by the rules, sometimes you’re still left with some adhesive damage or residue on your dorm-room walls. Here are some ways that you can make your walls look good as new before the end of the semester.
If the residue from tape or adhesive won’t budge from the wall, try applying some heat to make it softer and easier to remove. Use a hairdryer or an iron to heat up the adhesive, and rub the wall with a damp rag. (Note: Don’t press an iron against the wall—just hover over the spot to heat up the area.)
You can also use baby oil or another type of solvent (vegetable oil, olive oil, etc.) to dissolve the remaining adhesive. Pour some of the oil on a sponge or rag and apply it to the area. Allow it to sit for around 20 minutes before wiping it off with warm water.
Cleaning products like Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and Goo Gone can also work to remove any adhesive residue from your walls.
Rips in Paint
This one might be more severe, but it’s fixable nonetheless. If your adhesive was a llittle too strong, it might have ripped some of the paint from the wall when you took down your wall art. To fix a rip in your dorm room’s paint, you’ll need three things: sandpaper, spackle, and paint. Use sandpaper to gently smooth the wall where the paint was ripped. Then, spackle over the tear and repaint the area with matching paint.
Remember: accidents happen! A small hole in your dorm-room wall isn’t the end of the world, and it definitely isn’t worth getting a fine over. You can repair small holes yourself with spackle—or, as a last resort, toothpaste—and touching up with some similarly-colored paint.
Decorate to Your Heart’s Desire—Just Be Careful!
Decorating your dorm room is one of the most exciting parts of move-in day. With so many options to choose from—photos, banners, posters, and more—there are so many different ways to express yourself and make your walls reflect your personality. However, there is one thing that might put a damper on the fun: the decorating restrictions that inevitably come with living in a dorm. For the most part, these restrictions are designed for your safety and the preservation of the building, so while they might be annoying, it really in your best interest to follow them.
That being said, there are a lot of products that you can use to replace the more permanent methods of decorating. Make sure you stock up on the right supplies before you move in so that you can decorate your dorm to your heart’s desire!