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Repair and Patch Drywall | How to Fix a Hole in Sheetrock

By on December 28, 2009

Did some of the guests get a little too rowdy at your last party?  Accidents happen, and that’s why a little knowledge on how to easily repair holes in your wall can come in handy.

Small Holes

Holes up to about 1 1/2 inches are a simple fix.  All you need to do is cut out any loose paper and broken debris with a utility knife and then fill in the hole with Spackle using a putty knife.  If the hole is very small you may get away with just one coat of Spackle.  Holes on the bigger side of small may dry with a crack or two in them, or a depression.  This will require a second coat of Spackle.  Apply the second coat after the first is completely dry.  To make it easier, there is Spackle available that goes on pink and then turns completely white once it dries.  Sand the dried Spackle smooth with 120 grit sandpaper or a drywall screen.  Give your repair job a coat of wall primer and then a finish coat of paint to match the color of your wall.

Medium Sized Holes

Wall repair patches are available for holes up to about 6 inches in diameter.  The patches are a thin aluminum mesh with adhesive backing.  They are available in different sizes but can also be cut with a pair of scissors.  So simply cut the patch to overlap the edges of your hole by about an inch, remove the backing, and adhere to the wall.  Apply Spackle over the patch with a 3 to 6 inch putty knife.  Let your first coat dry as directed by the manufacturer, and then repeat.  Feather the edges out to the existing wall so that your total repair is twice the size of the hole.  Sand and paint the repair as described above.

Larger Holes

Holes that are over 6 inches will need additional backing and a replacement piece of Sheetrock to fill the hole.  You can pick up scrap pieces of drywall, called culls, at your local building supply.  Sheetrock comes in different thicknesses so be sure that your replacement piece is the same as your existing wall.

Step 1 – Use a square to draw a rectangle around the hole, then using a keyhole saw, cut out the rectangle.  Check for any wiring or plumbing around the hole before cutting.  (We don’t want to make our little repair a big one.)  If your hole is within 1 inch of a wall stud, cut your rectangle to expose the stud.

Step 2 – Measure the length between two sides of your new rectangle and cut two pieces of scrap wood so that they are 2 to 3 inches longer than your measurement (only one piece is needed if you’ve exposed a wall stud.)  The wood can be 1” x 3” strapping or any other scraps you may have laying around that are about that size (notice in the picture, I used leftover window casement.)

Step 3 – Insert one of the wood pieces into your rectangular hole.  Hold it in place so that it partially fills one edge of the cutout and then secure it with screws through the existing wall.  The screws should make a depression into the drywall but not break the paper.  Repeat this step with the second piece of wood to the other edge of your cutout.  Again, you do not have to insert a second strip of wood if you exposed the wall stud.

Step 4 – Take your scrap of drywall and cut it to fit inside the new cutout (about 1/8th inch shorter on all sides.)  Screw the four corners of your Sheetrock filler piece to the exposed wood braces.

Step 5 – Cover the seams and screws with mesh drywall tape.  You can use paper tape instead but I find mesh is easier to use if you’re a novice, plus you don’t have to put down a coat of joint compound prior to the tape.

Step 6 –With a larger repair like this you will want to use joint compound, commonly known as Mud, instead of Spackle because it is thinner and will be easier to sand out to match the existing wall.  Apply the first coat of joint compound with a 3 to 6 inch putty knife.

Step 7 – Once your first coat has dried use your putty knife to scrape off any bumps or ridges.  Apply the second coat of mud with a wider stroke than the first.  This may require using a wider putty knife than the one you used for the first coat.

Step 8 – Once your second coat has dried scrape off bumps and ridges and apply a final coat of compound.  Feather edges out to the existing wall, let dry, then sand and paint as described above.

Final Tip

The most important ingredient to a successful repair is a teaspoon full of patience.  Try not to get frustrated when you go back to fix one small blemish and create a bigger one.  It really doesn’t matter until the final coat of Mud, and even then you can usually sand out any mistakes.  To be a successful “taper” takes a bit of practice, so relax, just throw more parties.