How to Patch a Drywall

Whether its a small hole, large hole, dents or cracks. AHS has the steps to help you patch and repair your drywall. 

How to patch a drywall

We’ve all been there before. Maybe the doorknob accidentally hit the wall one too many times, or maybe you were moving furniture and the corner of a table dented the wall. You may have even been hanging a picture and drilled an extra hole that you don’t need. Whatever the reason, you’ve got a damaged wall that needs to be fixed.

Repairing a drywall hole may seem intimidating, but the truth is, fixing that eyesore is easy if you follow a few basic steps – even for novice, do-it-yourself homeowners. Follow these steps for patching a drywall hole, and you’ll have your wall looking as good as new in no time.

Assess the Damage

It might be tempting to just jump into your repair, but you should take some time first to determine the right method and steps to use. Not surprisingly, the amount of repair work you’ll need to do will depend on the extent of the damage. Smaller holes are much easier and less involved to repair that larger holes and dents. Generally speaking, there are four primary types of drywall damage:

  • Small holes and dents
  • Popped nails
  • Corner damage
  • Large holes

Knowing the right steps to remedy each of these will ensure a long-lasting fix. Before you start, take a step back to evaluate the damage and make sure you’re not going to be doing more (or less) work than necessary.

Assemble Your Tools

Once you’ve determined how much repair work you need to do, it’s time to assemble your tools. The exact tools needed will differ depending on your project, but there are a few basics that will come in handy. These include:

  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Drywall tape
  • Joint compound/spackle
  • Drill
  • Drywall screws
  • Drywall scraps
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint primer and paint to match walls

Safety First

Finally, before you begin working, take some important safety measures. First, make sure you’re aware of the location of all utility/electrical lines and studs. This is especially important when repairing larger holes, which require you to cut out sections of drywall. Second, make sure you have gloves, goggles and a dust mask to avoid any injury or exposure to drywall particles while you work.

Fixing Small Holes and Dents

Small holes and dents in your wall may be caused by nails, screws or hooks and can easily occur when you’re hanging photos or other items on your walls. This is the simplest type of drywall repair, and these holes can be fixed in a few quick steps.

First, you’ll need to ensure that any debris is removed from around the hole. Next, apply some spackle or drywall compound. You’ll need to apply enough layers to ensure that the level of the hole is even with the rest of the wall. Let the compound dry according to the instructions provided, then smooth the surface with sandpaper and paint over the repair as needed.

Dealing with Popped Nails

Popped nails occur when nails lose contact with the studs in your wall and “bump” through the drywall, creating a visible hole or puncture. These may also be caused by drywall screws, which can pop out as wooden framing is affected by the elements.

To repair drywall damage caused by popped nails, the first step is to reattach the drywall to the framing or studs. You can do this by inserting a drywall screw about 1 ½ inches above the popped nail. The screw should be inserted until it is just below the surface of the drywall. Next, use a hammer or other tool, such as a nail set, to drive the popped nail back into the surface of the wall. Get it as even with the wall as possible. Cover the affected area with joint compound, allow it to dry, then smooth with sandpaper and paint.

Repairs on the Corners

There are two types of damage that can occur on the corners of your walls, where pieces of drywall meet. You may have holes or dents, or you may have cracks or rippling in the drywall seam, which can occur as your home settles.

To repair a hole or a dent, you’ll need to use a product called corner bead, which may be made of metal, paper or vinyl. Cut along the top and bottom of the damaged area with a hacksaw, then use a utility knife to make vertical cuts and remove the affected piece of drywall. Next, cut a new piece of corner bead and attach it with nails or adhesive, whichever the manufacturer recommends. Finally, cover the patched area with joint compound and ensure the surface is as smooth as possible. Allow the compound to dry, then use sandpaper to smooth the surface and paint over the patch.

To fix cracks or rippling, use a utility knife to cut out the affected tape along the surface of the drywall. Apply a layer of joint compound about 1/8 inch thick, then place new tape onto the wall, smoothing out the surfaces as you go. Apply second and third coats of joint compound one side at a time. To maintain a smooth surface, allow one side to dry completely before beginning application on the other. After all coats have dried, smooth the surface with sandpaper and paint.

Tips for Larger Repairs

It should come as no surprise that larger holes require the most involved repairs. For these repairs, you’ll need a spare sheet of drywall. First, cut the new drywall into a square larger than the damaged area. Place this square over the hole and trace the outside edges of the square along your wall. Check the area for wires, then use a utility or drywall knife to cut out the damaged section of wall.

Next, you’ll need to reinforce the wall. Add small pieces of wood, known as furring strips or backer boards, along the sides of the hole and attach them with screws. Take your patch and use screws to attach it to the wooden boards. Finally, apply joint tape along all four corners of the patch to ensure a stronger bond. Then, cover the whole patch, including the taped seams, with joint compound. Apply as many coats as needed. Allow the compound to dry, then sand smooth and paint to match your wall.

A Little Extra Care for Long-lasting Results

Any homeowner knows that holes, dents and dings happen, but drywall repairs are easier than you think. If you take a little some time to ensure you’re making the right type of fix, you’ll have a long-lasting solution and avoid unnecessary headaches down the road.


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