No matter how careful you try to be, holes can happen in drywall from time-to-time. Drywall damage is common and it’s easy to fix with pretty basic equipment. Different types and styles of holes may require different repair approaches.
The good news is, there are several different ways that you can fix a hole in any section of drywall without having to call in a professional for help. You can typically do these repairs with the basics that you have in your tool kit and a few extra supplies.
Repairing Small Holes Less Than 2 Inches
For very small holes that are less than 2 inches in total, you can easily repair the hole with some drywall compound and a few basic tools. Here’s how to repair these holes.
- Clean up the repair area by trimming away the edges with a utility knife. If there are any chunks in the drywall, hanging by the flap, then press them into place if possible.
- If the area is dirty or greasy, such as a kitchen, clean a TSP, a cleaning compound that can be found in most paint centers and home improvement stores.
- Use a spray bottle of water to dampen the repair area. A little water will actually help the joint compound to adhere to the wall.
- Apply a generous amount of non-shrinking joint compound with a putty knife. Use a wider putty knife for a smoother finish.
- Pull the blade toward you in a single smooth, steady motion. The blade should make a 30 degree angle with the wallboard. Do your best to keep it smooth. If the finish isn’t perfect, it is alright as it can be sanded down later.
- Let the repaired area dry completely before you apply additional coats.
- Apply a second coat. Let it dry completely and lightly sand the area with a drywall sander or sandpaper.
Repairing Small to Medium Holes 2- 4 Inches
If you are dealing with a small hole in your drywall that is 4 inches or less, then you can easily do repairs with a ready-made drywall patch that you can pick up at your local home store. However, if you are dealing with a hole that has been caused by impact, such as a hole in the wall caused by a door knob, then you will need to use a different repair method.
These drywall patches are typically peel-and-stick and come with a metal backing that will bring extra strength to the hole so that patched area doesn’t cave in.
With the patch in tow, here’s how to repair small holes in your drywall.
- Clean up the edges of the hole with a utility knife. You need to clean away frayed edges and remove any chunks that are hanging on by the flaps of the edge of the hole.
- Cut the patch to fit the hole, but make sure that you leave a little extra backing so that you can attach the patch to strong areas of drywall around the opening.
- Clean and dry the area to be repaired, making sure that you are removing any grease that may still be on the area. You can use a basic kitchen cleaner, or warm, soapy water.
- Apply the patch over the hole in the wall and smooth with your hands and the edge of your putty knife. It is important that you are working to remove any air bubbles when you do this.
- Take a wide-blade putty knife and spread a thin topcoat of mud or joint compound over the area including the patch. The key is creating a smooth transition between the patch and the surrounding wall. With this in mind, you will want to taper the edges of the patch or feather the edges so that it blends into the wall. You may need multiple coats, but keep each layer thin. Wider putty knives deliver smoother results.
- Apply another layer of the compound with your putty knife. The best way to apply this coat is to pull the blade toward you in a single, steady, smooth motion. While you should try to make it as smooth as possible, it is OK if it isn’t perfect, as imperfections will be sanded down later.
- If there are thin hairline cracks coming out of the hole, hide them with a very thin layer of the joint compound. Scrape the excess off with your putty knife and you won’t even need to sand the area down when you’re done.
- Let the area stand for several hours until the patch has dried completely.
- Once the patch area is completely dry, lightly sand the area using either a drywall sander or a piece of drywall sandpaper.
Repairing a Medium Hole 4 to 6 inches
When you have a medium hole that is about 4 to 6 inches in size, you will need to take a few additional steps to repair your hole and make it look professional. Here’s how to repair medium holes of this size.
- Use a Carpenter’s square to outline the damaged area of your hole. Take a pencil to outline a square around the hole.
- Use a drywall knife to cut along the lines of this square and to remove the damaged areas of the drywall.
- Take a new piece of drywall and cut a patch out of this extra piece. The patch should be aboud 3 inches larger than your hole in every direction.
- On the back of your new drywall patch, outline the actual size of the hole in the wall.
- Remove the layer of plaster material from the back-edge strips of your new patch piece, this will leave thin edges of paper overhang on all sides of the piece of drywall.
- Place the filler inside the hole, it should fit perfectly, and the 3 inches of paper overhang should help you attach the piece to the drywall hole.
- Lift the edges of any overlapping paper so you can get your drywall compound under this paper. Use your drywall knife to press down the outer layer of paper, so your wet drywall compound acts like an adhesive and helps the paper stick to the wall.
- Cover the rest of the patch with drywall compound and smooth with a wide drywall knife. Use large, sweeping motions to create a thin layer of coating over the patch.
- Allow the area to dry completely, then sand with fine sandpaper until the area looks smooth. You may need to apply multiple layers and sand until the patch blends in with the wall around it.
Repairing a Large Hole 6 Inches or More
When you have a large hole of six inches or more in size, you can still typically repair them right at home using a standard set of tools, some extra drywall, joint compound and plenty of sandpaper.
- Use a Carpenter’s Square to outline the damaged area of your drywall and take a pencil to create a nice even square around the hole.
- Take a drywall or utility knife and start cutting away at the damaged section of the drywall. Use the edge of the Carpenter’s Square to help you stay along the lines.
- Take a piece of plywood and cut a new drywall backer from the wood. With larger holes using a more sturdy backing such as this is essential to making sure the large hole doesn’t start to cave in. Make the new piece of drywall backing about 4 inches longer than the area you are planning on patching.
- Place your drywall inside the smaller dimension of the hole. Make sure to maneuver the piece so it extends behind your existing drywall about 2 inches on each side, this will help you adhere the wood patch to the wall.
- Hold the backer steady while you screw it into place with a drywall screw, near the edges of the undamaged drywall. Screw them in until they are below the wall surface so you can cover them completely with joint compound once you are done.
- Measure and cut a new piece of drywall. Be careful to make certain the new replacement piece isn’t thicker than your existing drywall.
- Screw this new piece of drywall in place by attaching it to the backer piece of plywood you just installed.
- Tape the edges of the new patched area with adhesive-backed fiberglass drywall tape.
- Using an extra wide drywall knife, apply a thin coat of compound to the joints and exposed screwheads. Allow the patched area to dry completely.
- Using a fine-grit sandpaper, lightly sand the patched area. You may need to apply several coats of compound and then re-sand until the area is blended in with the wall.
- When repainting and covering up large areas such as this, it is always a smart idea to use two coats of primer to really help the patched drywall blend in with your existing wall.