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How to Repair Drywall

By Edited Jan 25, 2015 1 0

Unless you live is a concrete building, if you are a home owner, there will come a time when you have to repair a hole in the drywall in your home. What exactly is considered drywall?

Drywall is the boards that form the walls inside a home. It is called drywall because it is never exposed to the elements.

Drywall is made from gypsum and is sandwiched between two layers of paper. This type of indoor wall replaced traditional plastering several decades ago.

Once placed on a wall and secured to stud with screws, it is largely immune to breakage and crumbling of the edges if installed properly. However, drywall tends to become dinged over time.

The good news is that it can be patched with surface compound fairly easy.

Types of Surface Compound

Spackling Paste – used for filling larger holes and dents and much be built up in layers ¼ inch thick

Wallboard Joint Compound – used for covering taped drywall board joints applied in layers no more than ¼ inch thick

Paintable Latex Caulk – used for unstable gaps and cracks on the surface, but must be applied smoothly because it cannot be sanded

How to Repair Drywall

Nail Pops

One of the most common minor repairs involves fixing nail pops, which are nails that have popped out from the wall studs revealing a small circle just below the outer layer of drywall paper. If it is possible to remove the nail without damaging the drywall around it, do it, but more often than not, placing a nail puller up against the wall for leverage will damage the wall.

If you cannot pull it out, use a hammer to drive it back in place which will create a slight hammerhead dent in the wall. Be careful not to hit it so hard that you tear the paper. Next, fill the dents or screw holes with surface joint compound and let it dry. After a while, sand the area then prime and paint it to match the color of the rest of the wall.

You will get the best results from a drywall repair job if you allow the coats of joint compound to dry completely.

Normally you should leave mud on for 24 hours before sanding.

How to Repair Drywall Cracks

Before is repair a crack in drywall, you have to make it worse to make it better. To fill a narrow crack, widen it slightly with a screwdriver, brushing off any loose pieces. Next, fill the crack with lightweight surface compound using your finger to spread it flat.

Apply another layer of compound using a 9 inch putty knife, then allow it to dry overnight. The next day, apply another coat, let it dry, then sand it again. Now it is ready for priming and painting.

Repairing more complicated issues such as large holes that have been punched into the wall will require cutting and fitting a drywall patch.

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Before You Begin

To repair major holes in drywall, you will need the following materials and tools.

  • Framing square, drywall saw and utility knife
  • Power drill with Philips head bit
  • 2 Putty knifes and lightweight drywall compound
  • Scrap piece of lumber or ¾ plywood
  • 3 inch drywall screws and 120- grit sandpaper
  • Scrap piece of drywall and fiberglass drywall tape

Repair a Hole in Drywall

How to Repair Drywall
Credit: Opensource

When something has punctured the wall creating a large opening, it takes a little more effort to patch it than simply apply compound. After all, you have a large hole and it cannot simply be taped over and mudded. You have to create some kind substance behind it to hold the new patch in place.

Cutting Away the Damaged Drywall

  1. Begin near the hole by outlining the damaged area using a framing square, centering the drawing over the studs on both sides of the hole. The top and bottom of the rectangular or square you draw on the wall should be about an inch away from the damaged area.
  2. Using a drywall hand saw, begin cutting the damaged portion of the drywall out following the outline you just created.
  3. When you hit one of the studs, make a mark and measure over the studs ¾ of an inch. That will represent the center of the standard wall stud. The edge of the patch should be directly over it so both the existing drywall and the path will have support.
  4. Continue to cut along the line using a utility knife on the drywall over the stud. Use  several cuts with each progressively deeper that the last. Eventually you will cut through to the stud. Pull out the remaining pieces of drywall still clinging to the outline.
  5. Continue cutting around the outline until you have a fully exposed square or rectangular hole bracket by the wall studs.
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Fix Hole in Drywall

How to Repair Drywall
Building the Support
  1. Before patching the new drywall, you will need to build support behind the new drywall piece to hold it in place. After all, we are not talking about a pin prick here, this is a hole large enough to stick your head inside typically.
  2. Using a spare piece of wood, typically a 1x3, cut it 3 inches longer than the opening vertical. You have to install the support brace vertical because the wall studs will be in the way if you tried to attach it horizontally.
  3. Using drywall screws, screw the wood brace in place through the drywall wall and holding the brace in place with one hand while you drive. Put screws on the top and the bottom to hold it in place. Do not drive the screw heads all the way through the paper of the outer wall.
  4. Measure the opening and use the framing square to lay out the measurements on a scrap piece of drywall. If you do not have a spare piece around the house, you can buy small 2x2 pieces from the home improvement store.
  5. Now cut the patch to size using a utility knife.

How to Patch Hole in Wall

Installing the Patch

  1. Now that the support brace is in place and you have cut the patch to size, place the patch
    How to Hang Drywall
    inside the hole up against the support brace and screw through the patch into the brace to secure it. Screw as far from the edge of the path as possible to avoid splitting it.
  2. Put self-adhering fiberglass tape around the patch to cover the cracks.
  3. Use a 9 inch putty knife to spread drywall joint compound across the path and tape to create a smooth surface.
  4. Allow the compound to dry overnight, then sand the next day and apply a second coat.
  5. After the second coat has dried, sand the surface once again, then apply a third coat of compound and allow to dry before sanding one final time.
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Closing Thoughts

Repairing drywall is about the easiest DIY project you can do at home. Whether you are just covering up holes from old pictures you hung, cracks in the wall or much larger holes, the process is very straightforward.

To create the smoothest surface, repeatedly apply and sand the surface compound 3 times for a perfectly flat finish. In fact, the hardest part of this project may be matching the paint on the wall if you do not have any leftover from your last paint project. If done correctly, no one will be able to tell the wall has even been touched.



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