If your landlord won’t let you use Blu-Tac to put pictures, maps, posters or whatever on the wall, what can you do?
What’s the reason why landlords don’t allow their tenants to use Blu-Tac?
What is Blu-Tac?
What is Blu-Tac made from?
Is it Blu-Tac, Blue-Tac, Blu-Tack, Blu Tack or Blue Tack?
Let’s start from the top.
Blu-Tac is actually ‘Blu Tack’ - it’s made by a company called Bostik that manufactures adhesives and sealants for domestic, commercial and industrial purposes.
Remember: you can rate your landlord on Marks Out Of Tenancy.
What is Blu Tack?
Bostik, like most chemical companies, don’t want to give away their trade secrets, so we have to do a bit of digging around to find out what’s being cooked up.
What is Blu Tack made from?
The Safety Data Sheet lists three substances which may be used in the production of Blu Tack:
Calcium carbonate, White Mineral Oil, Polyisobutene.
In the book John states (we’ve paraphrased):
Mineral Filler (80%)
Mineral Oil (10%)
Synthetic Rubber (10%)
Mineral Filler (80%) is probably calcium carbonate or china clay.
Mineral Oil (10%) is a colourless mixture of long chain hydrocarbons extracted from oil and consists of saturated and aromatic components with the saturated part accounting for almost all of it.
Synthetic Rubber (10%) is a styrene-butadiene rubber that gives Blu Tack its mouldability
Pigment (<1%). On its own Blu Tack would be white and it was thought that this might encourage children to eat it; so it had to be given a colour that would not attract them but would act as a warning.
Looking back at the Safety Data Sheet we can match up the ingredients with the recipe from ‘Chemistry at Home: Exploring the Ingredients in Everyday Products’.
Calcium carbonate is the Mineral Filler (80%)
White Mineral Oil is the Mineral Oil (10%)
Polyisobutene is the Synthetic Rubber (10%)
Calcium carbonate is inert, boring, hydrocarbon polymers which make up the adhesive component of Blu Tack - this is the bit that makes it sticky. It’s also used in glues, resin in paint, and the glue in fiberglass.
But you don’t want it to be too sticky! The stickiness needs to be limited, so they add a mineral oil to reduce the stickiness of the hydrocarbon polymers. It’s this mineral oil that helps your Blu Tack stick to the wall and your poster, rather than sliding down the wall like Silly Putty, that causes problems.
Blu Tack is 10% oil?!
Mineral Oil can seep out of the Blu Tack into more absorbent surfaces like wallpaper and bone-dry painted walls.
Remember getting chain oil on your legs or jeans when you were a kid?
Have you ever splattered olive oil on your top?
It’s tough to get out, even if it’s only been there for a few minutes. Now imagine how much mineral oil has been squished and seeped into dry wallpaper for the last 9 months.
The oil can leave a mark which can be an absolute nightmare to remove, especially from wallpaper.
Would you want to move into a newly rented place with oil dot marks all over the wall? Probably not. Your landlord wants to rent out a place that’s as clean and up-together as possible. Redecorating and wallpapering an entire room is costly to the landlord, and we all know that cost will be passed down to the tenant. Don’t lose a chunk of your deposit just because you’ve hung a poster on the wall.
So what are the alternatives to Blu Tack?
There are a few alternatives to Blu Tack, but after reading a load of Amazon.co.uk reviews it seems like it might be best to steer clear of Blu Tack knock-off products or White Tack as they seem to leave oil marks on the wall at the same rate as standard Blu Tack.
The alternative to Blu Tack that keeps on being mentioned over and over on various forums is Command Poster Strips which has 1,400 customer ratings and scores 4.5 out of 5.
So in summary, don’t use Blu Tack as it oozes mineral oil into walls and wallpaper, there are decent alternatives that shouldn't result in annoying your landlord, ruining the wallpaper or in you losing your deposit.