Drywall repair is among the most popular DIY projects. Even if you’re a beginner when it comes to DIY projects, drywall repair is simple enough task that you can do it and get great results that look like you paid a professional to do it for you—unlike other projects such as fixing a leaky roof. Drywall repairs up there with replacing shower heads and doing basic plumbing tasks with how straightforward it is. This drywall repair guide will help you make the necessary repairs from beginning to end with minimal hassles and mishaps.
Table of Contents
- Factors to Consider Before Purchasing Materials
- Patching a Small Hole in Drywall
- Repairing Small Holes in Drywall
- Repairing Large Holes in Drywall
- Tips for Using Drywall
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing Materials
Before heading to a home improvement store, consider the following questions:
- Are you only touching up patched areas or repairing and painting an entire wall?
- Are there multiple holes?
- If there are multiple holes, do they vary in size?
Answering these questions in advance will help you determine how much material you need to complete your project. Whether you’re making minor repairs or involved in a major renovation, this guide will help you with the drywall aspect of the project.
Take the Necessary Precautions
Before you start a drywall project, become familiar with the utility layout of your home or establishment. Electric wires are often attached to wall studs, so locating these studs before you start making repairs will help you avoid mishaps and delays during the project. Additionally, you will need to make sure you are wearing protective gear to protect your skin and clothing, including safety goggles and safety gloves.
Standard Tools and Materials You Need
There are a variety of tools and materials you will need to complete large and small drywall projects, including:
- Drywall saw
- Tape measure
- Joint knife
- Utility knife
- Masking tape
- Joint compound
- Construction adhesive
- Drywall tape
- Drywall screws
Patching a Small Hole in Drywall
When compared to plaster, drywall is the least expensive option. The materials you need to patch a small hole in drywall are:
- Four-inch drywall knife
- Drywall sanding sponge
- Utility knife
- Clean rag
- Self-adhesive (mesh joint tape)
- Drywall compound (mud)
Repairing Small Holes in Drywall
1. Using a clean utility knife, remove stray pieces of surface paper and other materials that may be sticking out. When holes are made in drywall, the area surrounding the hole often folds in, leaving behind different types of debris. This debris must be cleared before the necessary repairs can be made.
2. Create two sections of joint mesh tape by cutting two medium-size pieces of tape. Make sure the pieces of tape are long enough to cover the hole entirely and exceed at least two inches on either side of the hole.
3. Take the two sections of mesh tape and place them over the hole in an “x” shape by taking one piece of mesh tape and placing it diagonally over the hole. Place the other section of mesh tape over the hole from the opposite side of the other section of mesh tape, creating an “x.” Gently press on the tape to ensure it firmly adheres to the wall’s surface.
4. Use the drywall knife and joint compound to cover the hole carefully. Apply a generous amount of the compound on the end of the drywall knife, and gently press in the mesh tape. Be sure you are putting some joint compound on the area surrounding the hole. Use the drywall knife to smooth the compound. It is fine if the mesh tape can be seen.
5. Let the first layer of the applied compound dry, then sand down any high and uneven spots. A drywall sanding sponge will help get the job done.
6. Repeat the above process at least twice. Be sure to sand down and smooth the area between each dried coat of the joint compound.
7. When you are done, use a clean rag to wipe away any excess dust. Use matching paint to cover the evidence of drywall repairs.
Repairing Large Holes in Drywall
Repairing large holes in drywall requires different tools and additional materials. Large holes in drywall range between 6 and 8 inches. You can repair large holes in drywall by cutting a patch of drywall and holding it in place by securing it with screws or wood backing strips. Once the drywall patch is secure, use tape and apply joint compound over the seams.
Materials and Tools You Need
- Drywall saw
- Framing square
- 3-inch scrap lumber or plywood strips
- Piece of drywall
- Tape measure
- Wood saw
- Coarse-thread drywall screws (1 1/4-inch)
- Self-adhesive mesh drywall joint tape
- Utility knife
- Drill with a screwdriver bit
- Drywall joint compound
- 6-inch drywall knife
- Clean rag
- 150-grit sanding sponge
1. Do the same as you would with a small hole in the drywall and check for plumbing and wiring before you begin your project. Prepare the hole by trimming the edges of the hole, as they need to be straight and in the shape of a square or rectangle. Using a pencil and framing square, make cutting lines on the drywall. Use a drywall saw to cut along the lines you made.
2. Now you need to install the backing strips. Cut at least two pieces of lumber that are long enough to cover the hole entirely and at least two inches of the area surrounding the hole. You can use plywood as an alternative.
3. Take one piece of lumber and place it inside the hole. The strip needs to be centered over the edge of the drywall, so place the lumber along the long side of the hole. Secure the strip using drywall screws; the screws need to be driven through the strip and the drywall. Make sure the screws are about one inch from the edge of the drywall and about six inches apart.
4. Now you can install the drywall patch. Cut a single piece of drywall to fit the hole. The piece of drywall does not have to fit the hole perfectly, but the seams should not exceed 1/8 inch wide. Place the patch over the hole and hold it in place on the backing strips using screws. Keep in mind the patch you use needs to be the same thickness as the current drywall you’re repairing, which is generally about 1/2 inch.
5. Each seam needs to be covered with joint drywall tape (self-adhesive mesh). This mesh should overlap tape strips at each corner. Cut the strips using a utility knife. The tape needs to remain flat to prevent unsightly bulges and wrinkles.
6. Now, you can cover the drywall tape using a thin layer of joint drywall compound and a drywall knife. A six-inch drywall knife is best to use for this part of the project. The thickness of drywall joint compound needs to be so thin you can view the mesh. Allow the compound to dry before attempting to scrape the surface. Once the compound dries, gently scrape the surface with the drywall knife. Carefully remove lumps, bumps, and other instances that cause the drywall to be uneven or not smooth. Once you remove these lumps, apply another coat of joint compound. This layer, like the previous layer you applied, needs to be thin. Make sure this layer of the compound exceeds the edges of the first layer you applied. Using the knife, feather the wet compound edges over the area surrounding the hole in the drywall to prevent tapering. Allow the second layer to dry and apply a third layer. Allow the third layer to dry.
7. Using the sanding sponge, rub it back and forth over the dried compound to create a smooth surface. Do not sand the surface so much that the mesh tape begins to show through the compound you’ve applied. If you prefer, you can use the wet-sand approach to prevent dust issues. When the surface is smooth, use a clean, dry rag to remove any excess dust. If you need to, you can add a surface texture to match the surrounding area.
8. Using a primer and a paintbrush, cover the patched area. Allow the primer to dry. Continue to apply primer until it matches the surrounding drywall. If a new paint job would suffice, now is the time to do so. Painting will also help hide the patch.
Tips for Using Drywall
When you are using drywall, there are a few things you should do to help make your project flow smoothly.
Mix the Compound
Don’t use the joint compound straight out of the container. Use a mud mixer, preferably a paddle, to thoroughly mix the compound. If you just purchased a new container of joint compound, remove at least one quart of the compound to make room for the water. When you start adding water, stirring the mixture can get tiring, so it may be best to use a 1/2-inch drill. Mix in two to three cups of water. Use the joint compound as soon as you open it, or else it can cause air bubbles and other issues. Without mixing the compound, it is too thick to spread evenly.
Tape Over Metal Corner Beads
Many people experience cracking on the edge of metal outside corner beads once they paint. If you also experience this problem, tape the metal corners to prevent cracking. You can avoid an extensive paint job by using and applying paper tape on the metal edge once the nail of the bead has been nailed. Once you embed the tape on the joint, fill in the corner.
Remove Loose Tape
The tape can become loose or form bubbles, so you will need to remove the tape and resurface the area using a joint compound. You can use as much joint compound as you can find, but the tape always wins. Over time, the loose or bubbled tape will reappear, so it is better to stop the problem at the source the first time. Using a utility knife, cut around the damaged area and remove the tape that is causing issues. Before applying another coat of joint compound, fill in the area with setting compound and allow it to dry and harden.
Mud One Side at a Time
If you are in a hurry, you may want to avoid this step until you have time to make the necessary repairs correctly. If you have multiple walls to repair, it is best to allow one corner to dry, then work on the other side of the wall. Rushing everything at once can leave a big mess for you to clean up and repair on top of the repairs you currently need to make. Additionally, avoid piling on the compound, as excess mud makes it difficult to apply to crown moldings and baseboards.
Fixing a hole in drywall can be an easy job that is as quick to complete as changing a doorknob. If you have an upcoming drywall project, use this guide to create a checklist of the tools and materials you will need. This guide can also help you repair large and small holes quickly without the burden of mishaps and spending more time on extra repairs.