Table of Contents
- 1 Selecting a Drywall Repair Kit
- 2 How We Tested
- 3 3M High Strength Small Hole Repair Kit
- 4 Erase-A-Hole
- 5 3M High Strength Large Hole Repair Kit
- 6 Humbest Drywall Repair Screens
- 7 3M High Strength Small Hole Repair
- 8 DAP Eclipse Rapid Wall Repair Patch
Holes happen, especially in drywall. Sometimes they happen on purpose and sometimes by accident. You hang a painting or a photo on the wall and then decide to relocate it. You’ve now got a drywall hole to fill. Somebody swings a door open with a little too much vigor, and its knob does a number on the adjacent wall. You’ve got a hole to fill. There are many other hole makers too: people trying to move furniture and put a table leg through the wall, hollow wall anchors that wiggle loose, toggle bolts that tear free, and rambunctious kids with a little too much energy for the indoors on a rainy day.
This is why we tested drywall repair kits and materials. Everyone will have a hole to patch at some point.
- Best for Holes Up to 3 Inches: 3M Small Hole Repair Kit
- Best for Small Holes in Textured Surfaces: Erase-A-Hole
- Best for Big Holes: 3M Large Hole Repair Kit
- Best for Extremely Large Holes: Humbest Repair Screens
- Best for Small Holes in Smooth Drywall: 3M All-In-One Repair Tube
- Best for Quick Drywall Repairs in Low Light: DAP Eclipse Repair Patch
Selecting a Drywall Repair Kit
We found that for small drywall holes up to 3⁄4-inch, simpler materials are best. An all-in-one hole-filling applicator or a product like Erase-A-Hole works well for these; the only thing you need to accompany that product is a putty knife or even a soft cloth to wipe off the excess.
For larger holes measuring from 1 to 3 inches at their widest point, kits that come with patching screens work pretty well. For holes in the range of 3 inches to 5 inches, you need to either use a kit specifically designed to cope with large holes or you have to apply a screen and learn how to use a drywall knife.
How We Tested
We bought a stack of 3 by 3-foot drywall repair panels and put holes in them. Depending on the size hole we wanted, we used a hole saw in a cordless drill, a hammer, a center punch, or a drywall saw. In some cases, we deliberately made the holes ugly and ragged. Accidental holes are rarely neat and clean.
Next, clamping the panels upright, we applied the repair materials as the directions called for, using the drywall knife if the kit came with one. We let the first coat of repair compound dry and evaluated the results. As odd as it may sound, we also inspected the back of each drywall test panel. It gave us a good idea of how much filler was required to begin the repair process. For one repair product, we learned that the condition of the back of the drywall is as important as the front.
Read on to find the best drywall repair material or kit for you.
—BEST FOR HOLES UP TO 3 INCHES—
3M High Strength Small Hole Repair Kit
Includes: 5.25 in. x 5.25 in. peel-and-stick fiberglass-reinforced aluminum screen, abrasive sponge, 8-oz primer-enhanced compound, 3-in. bevel-edge plastic knife
This is an effective little kit for repairing holes up to the size of one produced by a door knob. Since you’re only working on the surface of the wall, the condition of the back side of the wall doesn’t matter. Per the kit’s instructions, we lightly sanded around the edge of the hole with a sponge first, then applied the screen over the hole and vertically spread the first layer of repair compound over the hole. The compound spreads easily, and the knife works reasonably well, despite its small size. To make a smoother repair, we made a second pass using a little more compound and moving the knife at approximately a 45-degree angle to the first pass. At this point, we let the first coat dry.
The first pass with the compound provided and the small plastic knife included will produce enough of a layer that you can sand the patched area smooth. However, to blend it in with the surrounding area you’ll need a minimum of a 6-inch or an 8-inch knife. You’ll also need more repair compound than comes with the kit.
—BEST FOR SMALL HOLES ON TEXTURED SURFACES—
Includes: 4.5-oz container of screw-feed drywall repair compound
Erase-A-Hole is drywall repair in the form of a stick. And though it’s best for textured surfaces, it also works well on smooth ones. We filled hole diameters with it from tiny (about the size left by a finishing nail, less than 1⁄16 inch) all the way up to 3⁄4 inches in diameter. But it applies most smoothly and fills more consistently in holes from nail diameter to about 3⁄16 inch.
To use it, remove the cap and turn the dial at the bottom of the tube. Out of the top of the tube feeds a stick (to call it that) of 1.5-inch-diameter drywall repair compound. The material is surprisingly moist for something so cohesive, and it readily fills the hole to which you apply it. With small holes, we found that you can simply wipe the repair compound over the hole and use a putty knife or a soft cloth to wipe away remaining residue. From any holes from 3⁄16 to 3⁄4 inches across, move the Erase-A-Hole tube in a circular motion, beginning slightly outside the hole’s circumference and working toward the inside. This will leave the most excess material. One pass with a drywall knife (either metal or plastic) is all it takes to leave a smoothly filled surface.
You have to experiment with the material to fill a textured hole in a ceiling or wall. Dabbing at the material with a cloth or even your finger may yield the desired texture. If you have to do a number of such holes, buy a drywall repair panel, punch some experimental holes in it, and try your hand at adding texture to the repair.
—BEST FOR BIG HOLES—
3M High Strength Large Hole Repair Kit
Included: Sanding sponge, 2 in. x 5 in. fiberglass tape, adhesive-backed plastic repair plate, 12-oz fiber-reinforced repair compound, 6-in. bevel-edge plastic knife, 12-step instruction sheet
By far, this is the most thorough and ambitious repair kit for big holes in drywall. 3M defines “big” in this case as holes up 5 inches across. This typically means a circular hole 5 inches in diameter. However, we did test the screen on a square hole that was about 5 inches on each side. In that case, there’s not a lot of surface for the adhesive edges on the backing plate to grab, but it will stick. There’s another catch, too. In order for this kit to work properly and as intended, the back surface of the wall has to be clean and reasonably smooth. Otherwise, the adhesive strips on the repair plate will not grip properly to the wall’s back surface. This can cause the backing plate to work loose or result in a gap through which some of the repair compound will ooze out. We tried the patch on two different large holes, one with a smooth back and one in which we left some ragged drywall on the back. Although it worked in both instances, it worked better on the first.
—BEST FOR EXTREMELY LARGE HOLES—
Humbest Drywall Repair Screens
Included: 6 pieces of 8 in. x 8 in. fiberglass-reinforced aluminum drywall repair screen | 6-in. plastic drywall knife
This is nothing more than a commodity drywall repair product. You can buy the same thing (minus the disposable drywall repair knife included with it) in any lumber yard, most hardware stores, home centers, and through any number of sources on the internet. Inside this pack you find six 8-by-8-inch repair screens, with the aforementioned plastic compound spreader thrown in for good measure. Peel off the plastic backing sheet, line up the repair panel with the hole, press it down and wipe your hands over it to be sure it’s made full contact. With that, you’re ready to apply ready-mixed all-purpose drywall compound. The knife included is fine for the first coat. But after you sand the first coat of compound smooth, you’ll need a good quality (minimum) 6-inch-wide knife to finish the job. But an 8-inch knife would be even better and result in less sanding and a more-smoothly finished surface.
—BEST FOR SMALL HOLES IN SMOOTH DRYWALL—
3M High Strength Small Hole Repair
Included: 3-oz tube of repair compound, 1.75-in.-wide bevel-edge knife (built into tube), 1.5-in.-diameter abrasive cap on the end of the tube
You can’t go wrong with this little tube of repair compound. Although it’s intended to fill nail and screw holes, with a little finesse it will work on a hole up to 3⁄4-inch diameter—pretty remarkable.
For holes up to 1⁄2 inch across, squeeze the tube and force some of the primer-enhanced compound into the hole. In the same motion, slide the tube sideways to sheer off excess compound. This will leave a little excess compound outside the hole which you can strike off using the bevel-edge knife built into the tube. Let the compound dry and use the abrasive disc on the end of the cap to sand the area smooth. To fill a larger hole (from 1⁄2 inch up to 3⁄4 inch), move the tube in a circular motion around the hole, and allow the material to build up on the hole perimeter. If this is reasonably smooth, you can let the compound harden and then sand it smooth. If it’s a little too rough, you can carefully strike away the excess using the knife on the tube.
—BEST FOR QUICK REPAIRS IN LOW LIGHT—
DAP Eclipse Rapid Wall Repair Patch
Included: Single piece of 4-in. DAP Eclipse Wall Repair Patch
DAP’s Eclipse may be the fastest solution we’ve seen to repairing a hole in drywall. You apply it and paint it. It doesn’t leave the highest-quality and least-visible repair, but it is fast. It’s ideal for drywall hole repair where the priority is speed. This occurs when making repairs in low-visibility areas inside closets and painted cabinets and when you need to improve badly cut openings around plumbing and gas lines, such as in laundry and utility rooms.
We found that the repaired area was still visible, owing to the difference in how the paint is absorbed by the painted drywall nearby and on the patch, which is a plastic film. Probably the best way to improve your results would be to roll on a generous coat of primer not only on the patch, but on the surrounding area as a means to achieve nearly equal paint absorption of the two surfaces. DAP recommends this in the “For Best Results” section of its instructions. However, the context in which it recommends applying primer is to improve paint adhesion and to reduce the dry time of the paint, not to improve the appearance of the repaired area. We applied wall paint—no primer—and weren’t satisfied with how it looked.