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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Decorating your dorm room is exciting -- it’s a fresh start, and a chance to really show off your personality with the decor you pick out. Blank white walls aren’t very cozy, so your dorm room decor will probably include plenty of wall art as well. Knowing how to hang wall art in your dorm room in a way that won’t rip holes in the walls and destroy any chance of you getting your security deposit back is a must for any college student.

Whether you’ll be getting the bona fide dorm living experience or you’re staying in an off-campus college apartment, the rules about what you can and can’t do to the walls tend to be pretty similar. 

We all want the best-decorated 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.

Book of Dorm Room Rules

Learn the rules first!

Make Sure You Know What You Can and Can’t Have in Your Dorm Room Before You Start Picking Out and Hanging Up Your Wall Decor

This might seem super obvious, but 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.

Learning how to hang wall art in your dorm room without damaging the walls won’t take as long as studying for finals, but a little research will definitely pay off! Luckily, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about hanging common dorm wall decor and the tools you need to make your decorating dreams come true right here.

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.

Wall Art

How to Hang Wall Art Without Damage

Your Guide to Hooks, Adhesive, and Everything Else You Need to Hang Wall Art in Your Dorm Room Without Throwing Your Security Deposit Out the Window

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. 

Mounting Putty

two packages of sticky putty

Mounting putty is a great way to avoid putting any holes in your dorm-room walls, and while it’s sticky enough to hold up your decorations it doesn’t make a mess on the walls. Image courtesy of Art Supply Critic. 

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 
  • Loctite Fun-Tak Mounting Putty
  • Elmer’s Tac ’n Stik Reusable Adhesive 
  • Scotch Lightweight Mounting Putty 

Double-Sided Tape

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 
  • Gorilla Heavy-Duty Double-Sided Mounting Tape 
  • G-Wing Multipurpose Double-Sided Mounting Tape 
  • Feeke Nano Magic Tape 

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  
  • Jinshunfa Wall Hooks 
  • Innoplus Adhesive Hooks

Press and Hook

Demonstration of how to use press-and-hook hangers. Image courtesy of Wikihow.

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 as 150 pounds!

Top Brands for Press-and-Hook Wire Hangers:

  • BCP Twister Stainless Steel Cable with Adjustable Hanging Hook 
  • Monkey Hook Picture Hanger
  • OOK by Hillman Monkey and Gorilla Hooks 

Choose Dorm-Friendly Decorations that Won’t Destroy Your Walls

Posters, Tapestries, and Other Lightweight Decor Will Keep Your Walls Looking Good Until Move-Out Day

When it comes to protecting the walls of your dorm room or college apartment, not all decor is created equal. Sure, it’s fun to scroll through Pinterest and find inspiration that includes big hanging planters overflowing with vines or wall mounted shelves (have you seen the ones that look like floating piles of books??), but unfortunately you might need to put a pin in some of them until you’re in a slightly more permanent living situation.

Thankfully, there are plenty of wall art and decor options that can safely and easily transform your on-campus home into the dorm of your dreams.

As a general rule of thumb, try to choose the lightest wall decor possible.

Wall decor that doesn’t weigh very much will require less involved hanging methods. It also won’t do as much damage if it pulls down from those notoriously slippery dorm walls.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. Here are a few of our favorite, dorm-friendly decorations (complete with the best way to hang each).

Tapestries

Tapestries are an old favorite when it comes to decorating dorm walls. Why? For starters, they’re lightweight, which means it’s easy to hang them without much hardware. Tapestries also come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, which means you can cover a lot of wall space with a single piece of decor.

How to Hang: Adhesive picture-hanging strips 

(Thinking about covering up those boring dorm walls with a tapestry? We actually did a whole article on how to hang a tapestry in a dorm room -- so if you’re interested in tapestries, definitely check it out!)

Photos

So much of college life is bittersweet. You get to learn so many new things, but you also have to deal with finals stress. You get to learn about yourself, which can be exciting but also uncomfortable. And you get to make countless new memories with your professors, classmates, and friends, but you may also find yourself missing home or your high school pals. 

So what’s a college student to do? Stringing up photos is a great way to keep your loved ones close (no matter how near or far they are) and also surround yourself with the new memories you’re creating on campus.  

How to Hang: Simple frames with adhesive tape, create a collage using printed photos and hanging putty, or clip them up using clothesline or a wire photo display. There are lots of good options!

Mirrors

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the nicest dorm of all? Once you get your walls decorated, you will, hands down! If your dorm room feels a bit cramped, mirrors are a great option. They make small rooms feel lighter, and since they reflect the space, they also make it feel larger. It’s a great way to make any dorm or small apartment feel less claustrophobic without shelling out extra money to upgrade to a larger space.

Plus, having mirrors around has plenty of practical benefits. When you only have a couple minutes to get ready before class, there will be plenty of places to do a quick outfit or hair check before you head out. 

How to hang: Adhesive strips. You can also find desktop vanity mirrors or larger options that lean against the wall if you want to give your room decor a slightly different feel!

Fairy Lights & Garland

Looking for a way to add a new layer to your wall art? Consider throwing some string lights or garland into the mix. They’re lightweight, easy to hang, and can be draped anywhere you like with the right supplies. Hang them around your crown molding, drape them down your walls for a curtain effect, or even criss-cross them on the ceiling to create your very on canopy of leaves or stars.

How to Hang: Dorm-friendly adhesive hooks.

Wallpaper

Yes, you read that right -- wallpaper can actually be a dorm-safe way to add some color to your walls! Removable peel and stick wall paper options will stay on all year, and when it’s time to move out, you can peel them right off the wall. They’re a great way to make any dorm room feel a little cozier, more sophisticated, or otherwise finished.

Plus, with so many dorm-safe wallpaper options out there, the possibilities are endless. You can swap out those blank walls for dark wood or exposed brick. You could create an accent wall. You could use leftover pieces to transform your plain old standard-issue dorm desk into a beautiful marble workspace. It’s up to you!

How to Hang:  Just peel and stick, it’s that easy!


Quick Fixes for Light Damage 

How to Patch Holes and Deal with Sticky Residue on Your Dorm or Apartment Wall 

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— your security deposit isn’t necessarily lost. There are some quick fixes that might work to repair small holes and other kinds of damages. 

We’ll take you through some of the basic repairs you can do to address common wall damage issues, including:

  • Repairing wall damage from adhesives
  • Fixing rips or cracks in dorm wall paint
  • Patching small holes from hanging wall decor

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. 

Residue 

kitchen cleaning supplies
You might be surprised by what can work to remove residue from your walls—rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and even peanut butter! Image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens. 

Use Heat

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.) 

Add Oil 

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

Cleaning products like Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and Goo Gone can also work to remove any adhesive residue from your walls. 

Rips in Paint

wall with paint chipped off

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. 

Small Holes

Oops! Don’t worry—fixing a small hole in your wall is relatively easy and won’t take too long. A big hole, on the other hand . . . Image courtesy of The Spruce.

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! 

Learning How to Hang Wall Art in Your Dorm Room Without Creating Damage is a Useful Skill That Will Pay Off Over the Course of Your College Career


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. It’s your opportunity -- maybe your first opportunity -- to create a space that’s entirely your own and fits your unique vision.

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.

Thankfully, there are plenty of dorm-friendly wall art and wall decor options out there so that you can show off your style without getting in trouble with your RA or sacrificing your security deposit. Whether you want to stick with dorm room staples like fairy lights or banners and movies posters or you’re dreaming of a sophisticated dorm room complete with accent walls and hanging mirror, there are ways to make it happen.

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!

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