HOME REPAIR TIPS
Repairing Holes in Drywall
If you have banged your fist, head, or doorknob through your drywall, I’ll give you some simple tips that can help you make a repair just like the pros do. Unless the hole is small, an inch in diameter or less, you’ll want to cut a patch of drywall to make the repair. While there are some pretty good drywall patch systems, some using wire mesh, an actual piece of drywall will make the strongest repair.
For small holes, it is possible to fill with several applications of drywall mud—I never use spackling compound—allow each coat to dry completely, and then cover with another until the repair is even with the surface. A light sanding will prepare the surface for paint. To avoid dust, use a damp sponge or rag for sanding, starting around the perimeter of the patch and working into the center, being careful not to get the mud too wet or to remove too much mud. If you do sand too much, just apply another coat of mud and repeat.
For larger holes, I cut a rectangle to square the hole and make it easier to cut a patch. Here, there are two possible solutions. The one I use most often is to create a rectangle just large enough to cover the hole. While you must make the hole larger, you also make it much easier to repair.
Once the patch is cut to the size of the hole, you’ll need to create a method of securing it. Unless you are adjacent to a stud—in which case you can scab on a piece of wood on that side—you must cut a scrap of wood that will fit inside the hole, long enough to extend 3” in each direction beyond the hole. You can use 1 x 4, 2 x 4, scrap trim or plywood—almost anything that will hold a screw and fit in the hole.
First, stick your fingers inside the hole to make certain there are no wires, pipes, or other obstructions that will be in the way. Then, insert a piece of wood into the hole next to one side, allowing it to extend halfway behind the drywall. Make certain the piece is centered vertically in the hole. Secure the piece by holding it with one hand and installing drywall screws. If the hole is too small to get your hand inside, you can place a temporary screw in the center to use as a handle. Install the other piece of wood on the opposite side of the hole and secure as before.
Once the wood is in place, secure the drywall patch and you’re ready to mud and tape. Begin by cutting 4 strips of drywall tape to fit the perimeter of the hole, two of them will overlap the ends of the other two. Then, apply mud along one seam where the shorter pieces of tape will be. Press the tape in place and smooth by holding one end with a drywall knife and running another knife down the seam squeezing out the excess mud. Make certain that all the tape has mud underneath and that the excess mud is pressed from under the tape. Do the same thing on the opposite side.
Then, apply mud to the last two joints, allowing it to cover the ends of the first tape. Work out the excess as before, and once smooth, allow it to dry. The second and, third coat if necessary, are applied by working around the perimeter of the patch, using the large taping knife to feather the mud several inches from the seam. This helps to hide the patch by allowing the difference in height of the wall surface to be spread over a larger area.
The second method is as follows and requires no drywall tape: If, for instance, your hole is 4” x 6,” cut a patch that is 7” x 9,” making the patch 3” larger in each direction. Then, turn the patch over and create your 4” x 6” patch by cutting away the paper backing and drywall for 1-1/2” around the perimeter. The object is to leave only the paper surface for the 1-1/2” difference. Then, check to make certain the plug fits into the hole, and the excess around the perimeter becomes the drywall tape. Apply drywall mud as above, allow to dry, sand, and you are ready for paint.