A friend of mine painted on the walls of the apartment we are staying in with glow in the dark pain, and we have to get them off of the walls because we will get fined for it. We did not realize this until just recently, and so we don't have the time or money to repaint all the walls that she painted on. She said that she might have done it way back in August of last year. Does anyone have any ideas of how to get the paint off without severely damaging the walls? And again, we do not have the time or cash to repaint all the walls.

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    You'll never get it off and looking good enough not to get "fined". The remediation for this is paint over with Kilz, or like product, then repaint.
    – Tyson
    Jul 20, 2016 at 22:20
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    How long have you been in the apartment? If it's more than a few years the landlord may be planning to repaint anyway and might be persuaded to let this slide if you've been good tenants. If not, I'd try touch-up and see if that's enough, but I think you are simply going to have to make the time and find the money or sacrifice the deposit.
    – keshlam
    Jul 20, 2016 at 23:39
  • Kilz may do it or possibly just a coat of primer, hope your inspection is during day hours this would help
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 21, 2016 at 0:51
  • Anything you use to remove the paint, if it was practical, would not know how to stop at the dayglow layer, it will keep removing the paint you want to keep too
    – Jack
    Jul 21, 2016 at 3:51
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    As a landlord: I'd far rather the tenant came to me for a solution, rather than did some crappy DIY hack job painting.
    – Bryce
    Sep 1, 2017 at 22:24

3 Answers 3


You can try with soapy water. But - having removed a lot of paint, what you're hoping for is probably impossible. Even if you get the glow-in-the-dark stuff off, doing so will roughen up the underlying paint to the point that repainting is necessary.

You are stuck repainting, the question is whether you'd rather DIY or pay the landlord to do it. First, I'd confer with the landlord about his plans and see if you can come up with a compromise. Landlords don't make their money chiseling tenants out of their deposits.** They make their money having the unit rented continuously, and uneventfully, with the least downtime and maintenance expense. So see what can be worked out.

You'd definitely want a coat of quality primer like Kilz to keep the GitD paint from printing through the new topcoat. Scuff-sand the whole wall (just a few swishes with a Scotchbrite pad to knock the gloss off, especially over the GitD paint, paint does not stick to gloss); wipedown with TSP substitute to remove chemical contaminants (body oils etc.); then roll and brush on the primer. It's not a huge job, the biggest part of it is protecting your possessions and the carpet and window trim. If the carpet is scheduled for replacement, it's good to know that.

** In fact they usually lose money seizing a tenant's deposit. Their cost of doing the work is far beyond the deposit, and beyond any amount they could ever hope to collect from a typical tenant, even if they went to court. So they just say "heck with it" and move on.

  • As a landlord: I'd far rather the tenant came to me for a solution, rather than did some crappy DIY hack job painting. A bit of the wrong color paint is not a big problem. A DIY paint job could be.
    – Bryce
    Sep 1, 2017 at 22:24

I am not a lawyer.

Pro-tip for renters and landlords: unless the security deposit is keep, by it self, in a separate escrow account, you WILL be getting/giving the deposit back IN FULL.

What if a landlord does not properly hold a security deposit?

If a landlord does not hold a tenant’s security deposit in the proper type of account or fails to give the tenant the required notice of where the funds are deposited, the landlord forfeits (loses) the right to keep the security deposit. The landlord, at the request of the tenant, must immediately return the security deposit to him or her. –mass.gov

(that's not my jurisdiction, but my town has a similar ordinance, and I expect yours does as well)

Just be cool and let them come in before you move out so they can paint over this "reasonable wear and tear" in time for the new tenants.

(it's call a "move-in fee" these days people, get with the program y'all ;)

Now, if it was keep in an escrow account, well then good luck. Expect the cost to be deducted from it, if you do not rectify the situation.

Which, IMO, there is but one way: paint.

(assuming that your lease does not explicitly forbid painting your walls... even then so, but then we'd be getting into lawyer territory)

E.g. :

You: Was my SD kept in an escrow account?

Landlord: Eh... no?

You: (Then I expect it returned to me immediately, however) I'm willing to work with you. Please let me know when you're sending some guys over to do some painting. I well move my furniture to the middle of the rooms, or you can move it at your discretion. Thank you.

I've been on the other end of this stick before. IMO, just GTFO so I can paint. Just clean up and let me in to paint (in plenty of time for the new guy) and I'd have no problem. Well, I'd be kinda pissed but there's no way I'd be messing with withholding a SD. That's for when you trash the place.


As a landlord: I'd far rather the tenant came to me for a solution, rather than did some crappy DIY hack job painting. Chances are I'm repainting anyway after a tenant leaves. A bad paint job can be a big problem: if the wall is improperly cleaned and prepared, all future coats of paint are at risk.

Suck it up, talk to the landlord. You've got an excellent chance it will all be OK. Some wall damage is 100% normal wear and tear for a unit.

  • Your landlord may well prohibit tenant repainting. I certainly do.
    – Bryce
    Sep 1, 2017 at 22:33

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