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If you are moving into a new apartment or dorm room, you may notice in your renter’s handbook about certain items that are not allowed in your building. Some of these items may include pets, tobacco, and vinyl wall decals. Many of you are probably wondering,  “I can understand the first two examples, but wall decals? Why?”. In this article, I will explain why some apartments and dormitories have banned vinyl wall decals from their buildings.

How to remove a vinyl wall decal

In previous articles, we have mentioned how to apply a vinyl decal to your wall. Installing a vinyl decal is a multi-step process, and so is removing it.

To remove your decal, you will need:

  • A hair dryer
  • Tweezers

WallWritten has an informative video on how to remove a vinyl decal.

The instructions seem easy enough: simply run the hair dryer on medium heat over the decal until it is warm, then carefully peel off with the tweezers. However, take note how the woman in the video mentions that the longer a vinyl decal is stuck to its surface, especially if it has been more than three years since application, its adhesive bond becomes stronger, and may have more trouble removing from the wall.

Removing a vinyl decal from glass or metal gets trickier. The removal process is the same, but the vinyl is more likely to leave behind residue.

Problems with removing vinyl wall decals

wall with peeling white paint

Now that we understand how to remove vinyl decals, I will now explain exactly why they are banned from most rentals. When a new tenant is about to move in, most landlords will renovate the room with new carpet and a fresh coat of wall paint. Wall paint takes at least 4-6 weeks to completely dry, and maintenance generally has less than one month to prepare the rental for the new tenant.

Most tenants begin decorating their apartments within the first week of moving in. If someone applies a vinyl decal to a wall whose paint has not completely dried, the adhesive in the decal becomes stronger, causing a more permanent bond to the wall. When it is time to remove the decal, you may end up stripping the wall paint as well! Even if you have waited several weeks to ensure the paint has dried, and properly applied the decal, there is still a chance of removing the paint upon removal. If you remove a decal too quickly, at the wrong angle, or did not apply enough heat, you also risk taking paint off your wall. Sometimes, even a bad paint job, such as multiple paint layers or lack of primer,  can also cause decals to take the paint off with it when removed.

Sometimes, especially if the decal was applied to glass or metal, there may be residue left behind. It is possible to remove the residue using either soapy warm water, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or adhesive remover (such as Goo Gone or Sticky-Out), but this also risks damaging your walls. Nail polish remover and rubbing alcohol can dull latex paint.  It is also possible to remove vinyl residue on drywall by sanding it, but this will also take the paint off your wall and further damage it.


Obviously, landlords do not want to deal with any of these problems, and prefer to keep renovations for the next tenants to a minimum. If a tenant damages their walls, or any other part of the rented property, they risk losing their security deposit when they move out. They may also have to pay an additional fee for repairs.

What is an alternative to vinyl decals for apartments?

Modern living-room interior.

If you still wish to decorate your apartment or dorm room with wall decals, you still can! Rather than using vinyl decals, look for decals that are made with Photo-Tex. Photo-Tex decals are reusable, repositionable, and most importantly, they will never damage your walls!

Photo-Tex decals also require little effort for both application and removal:

  • Simply peel the decal off the backing paper, and stick it to your wall!
  • For removal, simply peel the decal right off the wall!
  • No squeegees, hair dryers, or tweezers required!

If your apartment has painted walls in a color other than white, many companies offer to color-match the decal so you can still achieve a vinyl decal-like effect. Just remember to still wait at least six weeks after moving in to ensure your wall paint is completely dry.

Photo-Tex cheetah decals

Most vinyl decals are not reusable. Photo-Tex decals are, so when it is time to move out, simply place your decal back on the backing sheet and store it in its shipping tube. Your decal will be ready to use again for your next home!




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