Interior Paint Prep: Drywall Repair

A very important first step in preparing to paint an interior room is repairing any holes, cracks or damage to the drywall. In many cases, holes, cracks, and damage to the drywall will be the reason for the paint project! Fortunately the repairs are usually not very difficult.

Drywall paneling comes with a number of different names: Drywall, wall-board, gypsum board, sheet-rock, and plaster board are just a few. It is made by pressing a gypsum plaster between two layers of thick paper.

The material has almost universally replaced earlier methods of wall covering like plastering because of the ease and speed of installation. The material is relatively inexpensive and easy to work with. However the paper coating is susceptible to water damage and mildew, and the boards can be easily damaged through impact. Repair is usually easy and straight forward.

The first step in repairing drywall damage is to assess the extent of damage, and classifying the size of hole. This will determine the method and materials needed for repairs. The smallest of holes, say from nail holes to about pencil sized, are the easiest to repair. In fact it is far from uncommon for apartment renters to simply fill nail holes that had been used to hang pictures with toothpaste! Of course you will want to make a more permanent repair using spackle or drywall compound.

Spackle is thicker than drywall compound and it can fill larger holes without shrinking or needing to be used with tape. However drywall compound in much cheaper. For simple repair purposes and paint preparations, a six-pound tub of dry wall compound will likely serve the average home owner for years. For very small holes your finger is probably the only tool you need to apply spackle, larger jobs will need a putty of drywall knife. These come in sizes from one inch through one foot widths, depending on the size of the job. Some repair professionals look down on the plastic knives. However they can be a great savings to the home owner who only has one or two small repair jobs. Just be aware that the plastic knives are pretty fragile; a metal knife can last a life time whereas the plastic can snap in half at the wrong moment.

Larger holes, from pencil to golf ball sized (please don’t ask how we know about golf ball sized holes) are just a little more complicated. They will need the support of drywall tape in order to hold the drywall compound. This tape is available as a self adhesive fiberglass mesh which is very easy to work with. Simply cover the hole with the tape, then cover the tape with the mud (drywall compound). For best results it is advised that you allow the compound to dry, sand it smooth, then apply a second coat. When the second coat is dry, sand, prime and paint your repair.

Your home improvement center will have a number of drywall repair kits for larger damage. Sometimes they are the simplest and best answer, and other times there will be better solutions. We will discuss repairs of larger damaged areas at a later time.

Just remember that there are always better options to repairing drywall damage than simply hanging a picture over it!

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