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How to Repair Dorm Room Damage

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If your college dorm room sustains some minor damage, you may be able to make adequate repairs to avoid costly fines. With a few materials and a little handiness, it won't be difficult to restore your dorm room to its condition on move-in day.

Wall Damage

Hanging pictures, posters and other wall decorations in your dorm can leave behind unsightly tape residue and thumbtack holes. Depending on the regulations in your dorm, you could incur expensive fines for leaving holes or missing paint from your wall hangings. These methods of hanging pictures are usually not permitted in dorm rooms for this reason.

To repair damage from adhesive:

  • Sand the wall with sandpaper where the tape was in order to remove any leftover adhesive, loose paint chips or small pieces of broken drywall, then brush it off with a dry cloth.

  • Fill in any divots or small holes with drywall paste and a putty knife. After the hole is filled, slide the flat end of the putty knife over the wall to remove any extra repair paste and smooth it out even with the wall. Allow the paste to completely dry. Add a second coat if necessary.

  • Sand the drywall paste to ensure that it's flat and smooth. Apply primer to the repaired area, and allow it to dry completely.

  • Try your best to find a paint color that matches--dorm rooms usually have standard white walls. Paint the repaired area, making sure not to use too much to keep the surface smooth. Apply a second coat if necessary to achieve the desired color.

To fill tiny holes:

  • Apply a small amount of caulk to the hole with a putty knife, spreading it until smooth. If there is still a dimple left behind after it dries, apply a second coat.

  • Touch up with paint.

TIP:Very small holes can be filled with toothpaste, and tiny chips may be concealed with corrective fluid.

Note: You may still receive fines after repairing damage to walls.

Furniture Damage

Most dorms provide you with some basic furniture--a bed, dresser, a desk, chair, and perhaps a bedside table. Usually made from wood, these pieces can easily become damaged even if you are extremely careful.


  • Conceal unsightly scratches on wood tables, chairs, desks and dressers with a good-quality furniture polish. Make sure you purchase the correct type, depending on if the wood is light- or dark-toned.

  • Cut a walnut in half and rub it over the scratch--the natural oils will fill in and hide the mark.

  • Crayons can also be effective--combine two or more to get the perfect shade and color in the depression. Finish by lightly buffing.

Water Ring Stains:

  • Leaving your solo cup on your bedside table during a marathon study session can create a mess of condensation on a hot, sticky day. Remove the glaring consequences with a concoction made of equal parts of toothpaste and mayonnaise.

  • You can also cover the ring with a thick cloth and press over it with a warm iron. Be sure to keep the iron on the cloth and don't allow it to come in direct contact with the wood's surface.

  • Finish up either method by rubbing orange or lemon oil to the wood with a soft cloth.

Cracks or Chips:

  • You can fill cracks or chips in your wood furniture with wood putty. Wood putty is available at most hardware retailers in various colors.

  • Apply it carefully with a plastic knife. Allow the putty to dry completely.

  • After it has dried, sand it smooth with an emery board.

Tips for Preventing Dorm Room Damage

  • Follow decorating regulations. Most dormitories have stringent rules for what is permitted when decorating your dorm. If you are forbidden to paint the walls or hang pictures with nails, abiding by these regulations is the best way to avoid damage fees.

  • Hang pictures with painter's tape. Most methods of hanging posters and pictures (thumbtacks, nails, tape) can cause unsightly damage to your dorm walls. Painter's tape (the blue tape used to protect trim and ceilings when painting) is an effective alternative because it won't damage the paint when it is removed.

  • Make sure all existing damage is documented. When you move into the dorm, you will have to fill out a damage report to document all existing damage to the room so you won't be blamed for it later. Be sure to inspect the room thoroughly to ensure all damage is accounted for in the paperwork.

  • Take pictures of the dorm. In addition to filling out the damage report, take pictures of your dorm when you move in and when you move out. If you are accused of causing any damage, it will be easier to dispute with visual evidence.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on October 2, 2013

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