How to Patch a Drywall

Whether you notice a small hole, large hole, dents, or cracks, here are some helpful steps to patch and repair your drywall. 


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

Drywall repair may seem intimidating, but the truth is, fixing that eyesore is easy if you follow a few basic steps—even you consider yourself a novice, do-it-yourself homeowner. If you’re wondering how to repair a drywall, follow these steps, 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 drywall repair, but you should take some time first to determine the correct 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. Fixing cracks in drywall or smaller holes is much easier and less involved to repair than larger holes and dents. 

Generally, 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 fixing drywall, take a step back to evaluate the damage and make sure you’re not going to be doing more (or less) work than necessary.

Then, make sure to take some important safety measures before you begin working to patch holes in drywall. 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.

Assemble Your Tools

Once you’ve determined how much repair work you need to do, it’s time to assemble your drywall tools. The exact tools you need will differ depending on your project, but a few basic tools will come in handy. Here’s what you might need:

  • Tape measure

  • Scissors

  • Utility knife

  • Drywall tape

  • Joint compound/spackle

  • Drill

  • Drywall screws

  • Drywall scraps

  • Sandpaper

  • Paint primer and paint to match walls                                                                      

  • Gloves, googles, and dust mask to avoid exposure to drywall particles

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 adding any small wall décor ideas. This is the simplest type of drywall hole repair—these holes can be fixed in a few quick steps.

1. First, ensure that any debris is removed from around the hole. 

2. 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. 

3. Let the compound dry according to the instructions provided. 

4. 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 when wooden framing is affected by the elements.

To perform drywall patch repair caused by popped nails:

1. Reattach the drywall to the framing or studs. You can do this by inserting a drywall screw about 1.5 inches above the popped nail. The screw should be inserted until it is just below the surface of the drywall. 

2. 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. 

3. 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 patch a hole in the drywall, or even just a dent, you’ll need to use a product called corner bead, which may be made of metal, paper, or vinyl. 

1. Cut along the top and bottom of the damaged area with a hacksaw. 

2. Use a utility knife to make vertical cuts and remove the affected piece of drywall. 

3. Next, cut a new piece of corner bead and attach it with nails or adhesive, whichever the manufacturer recommends. 

4. 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.

For fixing cracks in drywall or rippling:

1. Use a utility knife to cut out the affected tape along the surface of the drywall. 

2. 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. 

3. 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. 

4. After all coats have dried, smooth the surface with sandpaper and paint.

Fixing Drywall with Large Holes

It should come as no surprise that drywall repair for larger holes is a more involved process. But it’s still something you can take on yourself with a little patience and the right tools. 

To patch a hole in the wall for these types of repairs, you’ll need a spare sheet of drywall. 

1. 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 the wall.

2. 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. 

3. Apply joint tape along all four corners of the patch to ensure a stronger bond. 

4. Then, cover the whole patch, including the taped seams, with joint compound. Apply as many coats as needed. 

5. Allow the compound to dry, then sand, smooth, and paint to match your wall.


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

Even though you’re now a DIY drywall repair expert, sometimes it’s good to leave other repairs to the professionals. That’s where an American Home Shield® home warranty can help. Our home warranty coverage has your back when it comes to repairing or replacing your home’s covered appliances and systems. 

Read about other DIY fixes and tips on how to fix a leaking roof.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.


AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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New Jersey Residents: The product being offered is a service contract and is separate and distinct from any product or service warranty which may be provided by the home builder or manufacturer.