There’s a Hole in my Drywall!
If you are a typical homeowner, you will eventually have a drywall patch you’ll need to take on. This is especially true if you have kids, boys in particular. We raised four teenage boys. It seems like every once in a while one or the other would want to put their head or fist through a piece of drywall. Luckily, no one ever encountered wall studs, so no hospital visits were required.
Even without rambunctious children, there are other things that can put holes in your Sheetrock. Moving furniture is probably a big cause of damaged drywall. Going around a corner with a large piece of furniture can leave large gouges in your wall. Pets are notorious for damaging walls. In this example, the drywall damage was caused by cats clawing at the wall to access a window mounted cat door. In any event, installing a drywall patch is not difficult for a DIY oriented homeowner.
What You Will Need for A Drywall Repair
There are a few tools and materials you’ll need to properly install a drywall patch. Here’s a list of the items you will need to get a drywall patch installed so that it blends in seamlessly with the surrounding wall.
- Carpenters Square
- Carpenters Pencil
- Box cutter or drywall saw
- Sheetrock Sandpaper or Screen (100 Grit)
- Drywall Pole Sander – To hold sandpaper or screen when you sand
- Taping Knives – a 4-inch and 8-inch taping knife are what I used in this drywall repair
- Joint compound – I used premix but you can mix your own if you like.
- Shop-Vac – You’ll be creating a lot of dust!
- Respirator – Keep the dust out of your lungs!
- PVA or Kilz Primer
- Paint Roller (high nap) and brush
- Spare piece of sheetrock or drywall 2’x2′ sections are typically available at home improvement stores
- 1×2″ wood Strips – large enough to span the hole you’ll be patching twice.
- Sheetrock screws
Installing a Drywall Patch
Prepping the Damaged Drywall
The first think we will tackle is prepping the damaged area. Typically, I will mark off the area that is damaged with a carpenters pencil, drawing a square around the damaged drywall. I like to leave a few inches on wither side of the hole when drawing the square. Using the carpenters square, I’ll draw a square around the hole. Make note of the dimesions. For this drywall repair, the square was 6 inches.
Cut out the Damaged Area
It may seem contrary to what we are trying to do but cutting out the damaged area is the next step. You’ll use the box blade or drywall saw to cut out the damaged section. Use the square you penciled in as a guide. A drywall saw will make this job easier. If you use a drywall saw, make sure you have a box cutter handy as you’ll need this for the next step.
Cut out a Replacement Drywall Patch
If you happen to have a spare piece of Sheetrock laying around, you’re in luck. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy a small piece of Sheetrock. You can usually find 2’x2′ sections available at home improvement stores. You’ll want to cut out a section that will fit in the hole in the wall you cut out. Make the section you are going to cut out 1/8″ to 1/4″ smaller than the hole in the wall. This will make sure it fits comfortably in there and will leave a gap which you will fill in with joint compound.
Supporting the Drywall Patch
Before we install the drywall patch, you’ll have to provide some kind of support for it. Sometimes you will find that there is a stud behind the hole you are fixing. At other times, you may find that there is nothing at all. In either case, you’ll want to make sure that you will be able to secure the patch on all four corners of the replacement drywall.
You can see from the attached picture that in this drywall repair, I ran into several pieces of 2×4’s that were already there. This was good, but still left one corner where the drywall patch would float. I ended up securing a 5 inch piece of 1×2″ furring strip across the lower right corner (see picture). That way all for corners of the drywall patch will be supported.
If there are no existing studs behind the patch location, you should use two pieces of 1×2″ furring to support the drywall patch. You can attach the furring strips with four drywall screws. The above diagram shows how the furring strips should be attached. Once you have enough backing to securely attach the drywall patch, you can set it in place and secure it with four drywall screws. Not that you want the drywall screws to countersink about 1/4″, this will help prevent “nail pops”. It will also make hiding the screws with joint compund easier.
Bevel the Edges of the Hole and Drywall Patch
Before starting the joint compound, use a box blade to bevel the edges of the drywall patch and the hole you cut out earlier. Beveling the edge will leave more surface area for the joint compound to adhere too. I use a box blade to do this. Carefully cut around the edges of the hole as well as the patch you have installed.
Once the edges are beveled, you’ll want to give the area a light pass with the drywall sandpaper. The goal is to make sure all the bits and pieces are taken off. Inevitably, there will be bits of paper and gypsum after patching and beveling. Sanding will leave you a smooth surface to start filling in.
Creating a Smooth Surface for the Drywall Repair
At this point, we will start filling in the drywall patch. You can expect to put in anywhere from four to eight layers of joint compound. The first several coats will act primarily as a filler. There are some gaps, as well as the beveled edges, that will take a good amount of compound to fill. To complicate this, the first several coats will shrink. This is expected but it is important to give these coats to dry. Otherwise, the coats you put over the initial coats will be affected as the underlying coats shrink.
The First Coat of Joint Compound
The first coats will be applied with a four inch taping blade. For the first coat, I like to go around the cracks of the patch and press the compound in firmly. The goal here is to “squeeze” the compound so that it extends behind the patch that was put in. This will provide a firm anchor for the base and next coats. You’ll also want to leave a smooth coat over the entire patch, making sure to fill in any dents or holes. Take this opportunity to fill in the holes from the screws used to attach the 1×2 and the wall patch as well.
Give this coat plenty of time to dry. You’ll probably have to let it dry overnight since this coat is particularly thick. Once you are sure this coat is completely dry, lightly sand over the entire surface. You’ll be removing a bit of the last coat you put on. This is ok, You’re establishing a good foundation for the next coat. This is where the shop vac would come in handy. You will be making dust when you sand, a lot of it! A vac will help keep this under control and will help you get the dust off the patch so that the next coat will adhere better.
A few More Filler Coats
You will be repeating the last step a few times. There will be some shrinkage as the gaps from the last coat dry. Repeat the sanding and filling process. It may take two or three coats before you have a relatively smooth surface. Patience is a virtue at this point! My best advice at this point is to take your time, vac between sanding and keep your taping blade clean. Throw the joint compound leftover from each application away. You want to start with fresh compound each time. Trying to reuse older compound will leave you with streaks and lumps (I speak from experience, lol).
Time for a Skim Coat or Two
Now that you have all the holes and crevices filled in it’s time for a skim coat or two. The idea behind applying a skim coat is to extend the repair beyond the drywall repair. Additionally, this will leave a flat smooth surface as a base for your primer. We’ll start with a light sanding of the entire area.
For a repair of this size, I like to use an eight-inch taping blade. I will put some compound on the blade itself and work the blade across the repair. I’ll typically work from the top down first. Then I will work the blade horizontally, slightly building up the compound in the middle of the patch and thinning it out as I move towards the outside of the patch. I want to leave compound around the perimeter of the patch anywhere from four to eight inches beyond the patch.
It’s OK if there are some light ridges. Those can be sanded down. Once you let this coat thoroughly dry, give it a light sanding. You can evaluate it at this point. If there are any imperfections, you can apply another skim coat. When applying a second skim coat, extend it slightly beyond the last coat. If it looks smooth enough, then it’s time for a coat of primer.
Priming the Drywall Patch
Adding a coat of primer is important. There is a bare drywall patch and joint compound that needs to be sealed. An important part of priming the repair is laying down a texture to help match the surrounding areas. If you don’t lay down a good coat of primer with a lot of texture, the repair will stand out like a sore thumb. All of the steps to this point have been important. However, this will make or break your patch from being indistinguishable from the surrounding wall.
For this reason, I’ll use a roller with a very high nap. I usually use PVA primer for a drywall repair and fresh wallboard. PVA primer soaks into the surface and drys to a hard finish. In this case, I used Kilz Hide-All Multi-Surface Primer Sealer primer. I used this Kilz primer in a ceiling project I recently did (Remove a Popcorn Ceiling) and was quite happy with the results..
For this reason, I’ll use a roller with a very high nap. I usually use PVA primer for a drywall repair and fresh wallboard. PVA primer soaks into the surface and drys to a hard finish. In this case, I used Kilz Hide-All Multi-Surface Primer Sealer primer. I used this Kilz primer in a ceiling project I recently did, Remove a Popcorn Ceiling, and was quite happy with the results.
Final Steps in your Drywall Repair
After your first coat of primer is dry, look over the repair area. Now would be the time to fill in and sand any imperfections that may have been missed. If you have to fill in any areas, make sure to cover it with a coat or two of primer. You are now ready to paint the surface with a finish coat. You should have a drywall patch that blends right in to the surrounding wall!
I like to roll on a fairly thick coat. It’s important to not only cover the drywall repair but to spread the primer a few inches beyond the drywall repair area. I make the primer coat thinner as I approach the edges of the repair to help it better blend into the existing texture. Likewise, if you add a second coat of primer, extend that one a few inches past the last coat.
I also have a video on my YouTube Channel on how to install a drywall patch.