Drywall Repair Made Simple

If you are interested in knowing how to make a simple drywall repair to a damaged wall, this article is worth reading. We will discuss how to cover nail and screw holes using a way that makes them easy to patch and totally disappear.

We will also show you how to repair a larger hole that will require more patching, and a really damaged wall area that will require a good size patch. Here are simple instructions on repairing all three types.

The simplest repairs require little more than:

  • a carriage bolt;
  • a small hammer;
  • a 4 inch putty knife; and
  • some drywall mud.

Whenever a screw or nail is placed in drywall, the drywall paper protrudes out and simply placing the drywall mud over the hole leaves the drywall repair really obvious. Taking the carriage bolt, placing the round head over the hole and tapping gently with the hammer will force the drywall to curve inward leaving a slight dimple. The drywall mud simply fills this dimple without leaving any protrusion.

After the mud has dried:

  • sand the area smooth;
  • place a coat of paint primer/sealer paint over the repair;
  • let dry; and
  • apply the final color of paint.

IF you elect to not place the paint primer over the drywall repair, the paint will dry quicker over the repair and make the repair really stand out.

Larger holes that need drywall repair are typically the ones found behind doorknobs. These are a little more difficult to fix and if the source of the problem is not resolved, the hole will reappear again in a short time.
My preferred drywall repair method is:

  • Cut out a square around the hole;
  • Cut the edges of the square hole at a 45 degree angle, like you would cut the top of a jack-o-lantern, with the edges angled out. This makes the hole larger on the outside than the inside.
  • Cut the replacement plug at the same angle in such a way that the plug does not fit through the hole and fall inside the wall.
  • Now that the patch is ready, let’s reinforce the drywall repair. Take a piece of scrap lumber, say a piece of 1” X 3”. It doesn’t have to be that exact size. It should, however, be approximately three times or more the size of the opening of the hole. Use something that will fit through the hole and is several inches longer than the hole.
  • Place a screw in the board and slip the board into the hole.
  • Center the board by using the screw you have already placed.
  • Place a drywall screw above and below the hole You are screwing through the drywall into the board. This will hold it in place.
  • Remove the screw you have been holding onto.
  • Place the patch in the hole and screw the patch to the board with drywall screws.
  • Trim the edges of the patch so that there are no edges above the repair area.
  • Put drywall mud over the repaired area in thin coats and allow to dry between coats.
  • Sand to get the repaired area smooth.
  • When the area is smooth with no obvious flaws, apply primer and then the final coat of paint. The drywall repair should not be visible.
  • Now for the final step, put a door stop behind the door, on the door or on the baseboard. Whatever is used in the rest of your house. This will stop the door from banging into the wall again and causing a new hole in the wall.

Drywall repair of big patches is very similar to larger holes, but with more material being required.

Let’s use the following as an example: Your home is an older one and has electric wall heaters. You have now installed a central heating and cooling system. You want to remove the old wall heaters. These are typically 16 inches wide and 20 inches or so tall. The heater and the associated wiring have been previously removed. All that is left is a big hole.

Here’s what you do for this drywall repair:

  • With a razor knife, cut the opening so that you can see half the 2x4s on each side.
  • Cut two pieces of scrap wood to span the width of the opening top and bottom.
  • Screw these pieces behind the existing drywall to support all the edges of the patch.
  • Cut a patch to fit this opening.
  • Screw it in place.
  • Trim the edges so that there are no protruding edges.
  • Place drywall mud over the seams. Remember, several thin coats work much better than one thick coat. As long as the seams are less than 1/8 inch wide, you will not need to use paper tape to cover the joint. Using paper tape makes the seams more work as you must taper the mud to blend the patch into the wall.
  • Between each coat of drywall mud remember to sand to get the area smooth.
  • As in our last example, apply primer and then the final coat of paint. The drywall repair should not be visible.

NOTE: For the replacement plug and the big patches we talk about above, at your local big box store you can buy a 2′ x 2′ piece of drywall called a drywall repair patch. Also, you can ask if they have some damaged drywall for sale. Usually they put the damaged drywall out in front of the store.

After reading this, you should have a basic understanding of how simple drywall repair is accomplished. Just remember to take your time and work carefully. When sanding, always remember to wear a mask.

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