The guest bathroom in the apartment I recently rented has what appears to be a custom paint job that originally I thought was wall paper. The paint is in vertical stripes, with half the stripes consisting of a very thick application of paint that has a crackled appearance I assume is deliberate.

I have approval from the management company to repaint, but this doesn't seem like the type of treatment that I can just prime and cover up. How do I repaint this bathroom?

Because I rent, replacing the drywall isn't a DIY option. I can certainly request this from the owner, but I don't expect to get very far.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

  • If a rental, step one is check with the landlord. If you own it, that's different; in my local vernacular, "apartment" implies rental, but that does not seem to be worldwide usage.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 21:09
  • 1
    Is the paint loose at all, or is it well bonded?
    – isherwood
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 21:10
  • Yes, it is a rental. I did check with the management company to make sure it is OK to repaint, but they aren't yet aware of the fact that the old paint can't really be covered up (at least, I assume it can't). I updated the original comment to provide more detail. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 16:39
  • Is that drywall behind the paint?
    – DMoore
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 17:07
  • @DMoore I think so? It's hard to tell what's going on. In most of the places where the paint is cracked, there is red showing through. But in some places, such as that bare patch at the bottom of the third photo, there is drywall showing through. It's very odd. I can't tell what aspects of this are intentional. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:00

2 Answers 2


This is potentially one of those places where replacing the drywall might actually be less work.

If the paint is well-bonded, you may be able to skim-coat with drywall compound to fill in the crackle. It may take more work than either adding a layer of thin drywall or ripping and replacing the drywall would.

Most people won't accept that as a possible or reasonable option until after they've spent way too long fixing a bad (or "idiosyncratic, unique") paint job.

  • I'm not going to replace the drywall, but I did decide that skim coating was the way to go. I think skim coating will be less work than replacing the drywall, and regardless I don't want to take on that level of demolition in a rental. I haven't actually taken on this project yet, so I can't speak to the results. In particular, I'm not sure how well-bonded the paint is, but I will sand thoroughly beforehand to remove as much loose and flaking paint as I can. Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 16:06

The 2nd pic looks like the "crackle" texture is intentional, but the fact that it ends in pics 1 & 3 leads me to believe that this is simply a failing paint job. I'd guess that it would scrape off reasonably easily. The problem is that it may take the paper covering that makes up the outer layer of the drywall with it when it departs. Then you no longer have drywall, you just have chalk (effectively).

Since the landlord has give you permission to do the painting yourself, I'd follow up with written notice that you're going to try to scrape the old, cracked paint off, but are concerned that it could cause damage to the drywall, and request written permission to proceed despite the risk and a commitment to replace the drywall (at no charge to you) if your attempts don't work/end up causing damage.

That way you're covered either way.

I'm somewhat surprised that this was rented out to you like this, especially since you mention "management company". Usually corporate owned places get a repaint of builder's beige between renters if there's any significant damage or modification (like a questionable paint job) by the previous tenant. If it was an individual who owned a house or two that he leased out, I could see that happening.

  • It's not corporate owned, just corporate managed. The issue is that I took over a lease from the previous tenants who moved out early, so I got the apartment as is. I'm now realizing that this is a problem because there are a lot of deferred maintenance issues. I'm willing to tackle some of these myself, but then there are things like this bathroom that may be too difficult / risky to deal with. If need be, I can wait until its time to renew the lease and then negotiate some of these items. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 18:54
  • @HotDogWater The person you lease from should have maintenance crew or companies they use to fix things even while a tenant is living there. Re-doing the drywall on one bathroom wall is certainly something a company/professional could do in 1-3 hours, if you're concerned about living in an area while it is being worked on.
    – TylerH
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 18:12

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