Table of Contents
- 1 Tips and tricks for drywall patching
- 2 What you need
- 3 How to fix small holes
- 4 How to fix medium-sized holes with drywall mesh tape Install a small piece of wood behind the hole to secure the drywall patch. Brett_Hondow/Getty Images
- 5 How to patch large holes
- 6 Insider’s takeaway
- Small holes are quick and easy to fix with joint compound and a putty knife.
- Medium and large holes are more extensive and also require a piece of drywall to use as a patch.
- Both the prep and application processes are essential to achieving success.
A hole in the wall is unsightly and could be a point of entry or resting place for critters you don’t want in your home. You should repair the hole as soon as possible, but according to Dennis McGee, owner of Mr. Handyman in Leesburg, FL, this type of repair can be tricky.
However, if you’re pretty handy, this is a project you should be able to tackle yourself with some care and patience. And if you go the DIY route, he says the steps to repair the hole will depend on how big it is.
Tips and tricks for drywall patching
Regardless of the size of the hole, there are some steps you should take to ensure your repair is virtually undetectable once it’s finished.
- Match the paint. David Steckel, a home expert at Thumbtack, says that paint shouldn’t be an afterthought. “If you don’t have the correct paint, you might be painting the entire wall from one corner to the other to ensure your repair doesn’t stand out,” he says. “So I recommend ensuring you have the exact paint before fixing the hole.”
- Don’t forget the texture. If the area is textured, you’ll also need to apply that texture so the repair blends in. McGee says “orange peel” and “knockdown” are common types of textures. You can purchase drywall texture spray cans and apply them like spray paint.
- Primer makes a difference. Before you paint, McGee recommends applying a primer to that area to seal the new drywall and joint compound. “The joint compound and new drywall will react differently to the finished paint if it is not sealed, and the repair will be obvious,” McGee explains. But if you seal it before applying the finish paint, he says the repair will be undetectable.
- Keep things clean. Also be proactive as it relates to messes. “Fixing a wall, even a small repair, more often than not will create a mess, so move anything that you don’t want dust or plaster on out of the way,” says Steckel.
- Prep your tools in advance. “Get all of your tools ready so that you don’t have to look for them after you’ve mixed your plaster — because it will dry out,” says Steckel.
- Prep the area you’re patching, too. Regardless of the hole’s size, he says you’ll need to do some prep work. “You can prep the wall to receive the repair by scraping a clean putty knife across the damaged area to remove any loose debris or chipping paint – and then wipe away the dust with your dry cloth.”
What you need
How to patch large holes
When it comes to large holes, calling in a professional can help you avoid errors that may require fixing the hole again in the future. “Particularly with large holes, because new drywall will likely need to be installed, you could end up with an uneven or patchy wall,” says Steckel. “Plastering is an art and doing it right is not easy. It can be incredibly frustrating and messy, and if there are any imperfections, once you paint, there is no other option than to do it again.”
However, if you decide to patch a large hole yourself, Steckel provides two options.
Option 1: Chicago patch
This is the more complicated method but will yield the most seamless-looking results.
1. Square off the hole. If the hole is irregularly shaped, use a small saw blade or razor knife to transform it into a square. Remove any drywall debris or chipped paint and sand the area smooth.
2. Brace the hole. Place a piece of wood through the hole and attach it on both sides across the opening using drywall screws. It should be long enough to extend at least 1 inch past the edge of the hole on either side.
3. Prepare the drywall patch. Take a piece of drywall about twice the size of the hole. Line it up to the squared-off hole and use your sharp utility knife to trace the back of the drywall along the top and bottom edges of the hole. Carefully cut the lines deeper. Do not cut through the front paper. Snap off and peel away the excess drywall while leaving the front paper intact. Repeat, this time tracing the right and left sides of the hole. You should now have a piece of drywall that matches the hole completely with the front paper still attached.
4. Apply the patch. Put a generous coat of drywall compound on the wall surrounding the hole. Put a generous coat of compound on the inside paper portion of your custom piece. Press the patch into the hole, and use your biggest putty knife to flatten the paper to the wall. Allow the putty to dry (it will take about an hour).
5. Apply a second coat of compound. This time, add a thinner coat of drywall compound, taking care to spread it an inch or two past the original application. Then, smooth the edges until the compound is flush with the wall. Let this coat dry. If the patch still isn’t smooth, apply a third coat (skim coat) and feather the bumps out to make the edges as flush as possible.
6. Lightly sand, prime, and paint. Sand the area, wipe with a damp cloth, let it dry, and then prime and paint. If your paint includes primer, you can skip the priming step.
Option 2: Regular patch
1. Square off the hole. If it is round or irregular in shape, use a razor knife or small saw blade to make the hole square. Clear any chipped paint or debris and sand smooth.
2. Brace the hole. Insert a piece of wood into the hole and screw it in on the left and the right. It should be long enough to extend at least 1 inch past the edge of the hole on either side.
3. Prepare the drywall patch. Cut a piece of drywall (all the way through the paper) so that it fills the hole, leaving less than a ½-inch gap all the way around.
4. Secure the patch. Using drywall screws, attach the patch to the wood brace behind it.
5. Apply mesh tape. Place the mesh tape over the gap (extend a inch or two past the hole) and use your knife to flatten it and make sure it is adhering.
6. Apply the patch. Put a very generous first coat of mud along the gaps. Go a few inches further on either side of the tape, Flatten the drywall mud and allow it to dry (it will take about an hour).
7. Apply a second application. Add a thinner coat of drywall mud, extending it an inch or two past the previous application. Smooth the edges until the compound is flush with the wall. Let the coat dry. If the patch isn’t smooth, apply a third (skim) coat and feather the bumps out to make the edges as flush as possible.
8. Lightly sand, prime, and paint. Sand the area, wipe with a damp cloth, let dry, and then prime and paint. Skip the priming step if your paint includes primer.
The steps to repairing a hole in the wall will depend on the hole’s size. A small hole needs to be cleaned and sanded before applying drywall compound. Mid-size and large holes will require a wooden brace, a drywall patch, drywall mesh tape, and drywall compound.