Repair Larger Holes in Drywall Before Painting

We began discussing Sheetrock repair for Interior paint preparation in an earlier post. We went over fixes for simple small holes. Unfortunately, like so many things in real life, drywall holes aren’t always simple and small.

Small dings and holes can usually be fixed by filling them with drywall compound or “mud” and then sanding, priming, and repainting. A larger hole may require some fiberglass mesh tape to hold the mud.

If the hole is bigger than a golf ball, tape alone probably doesn’t have the strength for a good repair. Fortunately, the repair is still a pretty simple affair. Drywall repair kits are available in a variety of sizes at the home improvement center or hardware store. The most common will include everything you need to get rid of your hole, although some kits are not so complete. This may present a savings if you have some of the materials and tools on hand. The heart of the kit is a patch of light sheet metal or stiff cardboard. This may be perforated to hold the drywall compound, or it may be covered with a fiberglass mesh for the same purpose. The patch is probably self-adhesive as well; simply choose a patch that is larger than your hole, stick it to the wall, cover it with mud and allow it to dry. When the mud is dry, sand it smooth. If you need another coat of mud to properly hide the patch apply it as before, then paint.

The problem with these types of repair kits is that the patch, which is above the drywall surface, may be hard to hide. Usually you can disguise the patch by adding extra joint compound and feathering it in. For larger holes, create a patch using a piece of scrap dry wall.

The first step in this method will be to remove the damaged drywall. Look and/or feel inside the hole to be sure that there are no wires or pipes that you could damage while making the repair. Using an inexpensive keyhole saw, cut away the damage in a square or rectangular shape. If the damage is near a stud, it will be useful to extend your repair hole to the stud, but it is not strictly necessary. Next find a piece of scrap drywall material, and trim it to the size of your repair hole. (You could use your keyhole saw again, but the scrap will be hard to trim if it is not attached to the wall. Instead use a utility knife to cut through the paper cover of the drywall along the line you’ve measured, and the drywall will break neatly along the line when you strike the reverse side.)

Check to be sure your scrap piece fits in the hole. The exposed stud can be used to support one side of the patch if it is available. If not, cut a piece of 1×2″ softwood about 4″ longer than the hole is wide. Hold the wood inside the hole and secure to the drywall using drywall screws. Now screw the patch to the wood. Tape and cover with drywall joint compound, then sand smooth.

You will likely need to prime the patch before painting, but that is all there is to it if the wall is smooth- the most ime consuming part of the project is probably waiting for the mud to dry for sanding. However, if the wall is textured, you will need to re-texture in order to hide the repair.

Tune in later for strategies for texturing repairs.

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