How to Use a Putty Knife in Your First Apartment

A putty knife is a useful tool for many DIY projects, but how can one be useful in your first apartment? There are two great ways you can use a putty knife for first apartment DIY tasks, so read on below to find out how.

Choosing a knife

The first step to any project is choosing your tools, and there are a variety of putty knives available to suit different needs. If you’ll be using the knife to fill holes or seal windows, choose a knife with a flexible blade and a straight edge. Alternatively, if you’ll be using the knife to scrape old paint or other material, choose a stiffer blade with a sharp chiseled edge.

If you only have a small project to take care of with the putty knife, try buying a plastic one. These don’t last as long, as they aren’t quite as effective, but they’re also cheaper than metal knives. If you think you’ll have other future projects to use the putty knife for, invest in a stainless steel knife.

Spreading putty

Whether you’re spreading drywall mud, window glaze putty, wood filler, or anything else, be sure to read the instructions on the container before getting started. If your putty comes in a tub, remove the lid and scrape out a ball of putty slightly larger than the hole or gap you’re filling. It’s generally easier to have too much putty and scrape off the excess afterward than to not have enough.

Hold the scraper at a 30-degree angle above the hole or gap you need to cover, and then scrape vertically to cover the hole with putty. To scrape off any excess putty, hold your knife horizontally at a 30-degree angle to the wall and scrape. 

Many times, the first layer of putty will be thin or otherwise not quite look like part of the wall. This isn’t a big deal. You’ll simply need to apply a second layer of putty the same way as the first. Make sure the surface is smooth and flush with the wall before you let it dry.

Using it as a scraper

After selecting a firm putty knife with a chiseled edge, it should be easy to use to scrape any paint or other materials off your apartment walls or surfaces. When scraping paint or other materials that can cause dust or release toxins, it’s important to wear a dust mask to protect your lungs.

It’s easier to scrape material off if you can find a natural hole or gap in the material first. If so, insert your putty knife into the hole and begin scraping at a 30-degree angle from there. Otherwise, simply use the sharp edge of the knife to cut into the material and create an easy place to start scraping.

You’ll need to use some force to scrape paint or other material off, but be sure you don’t scrape off anything important around or underneath it. You can try scraping on a small test section in a less noticeable area first to be safe.


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