Got holes and torn drywall? Here's an easy way to repair and patch drywall messes.
Tools and Supplies:
Here's an easier way to achieve perfect patches in drywall. Photo: Carl Weese, Home & Garden
Patching drywall looks simple, but a truly seamless repair takes considerable skill and care. Any irregularities due to excess compound, fasteners, tears in the drywall covering, or uneven joints will show up after you paint, when it's too late.
Here's a foolproof method for drywall repair that's as close to perfect as possible.
- Drywall saw
- Carpenter's square
- Drywall saw
- Drywall tape
- Drywall compound
- Mud pan
- 120-grit sandpaper
- Sanding block
- Utility knife
with a sharp blade
- Drywall screws
- 1 x 4 pieces of scrap wood
- 6-in. taping knife
- 10-in. taping knife
- 12-in. or 16-in. taping knife
1. Take a new piece of drywall and cut out a patch.
You can pick up a 2' x 2' piece of drywall at your local home center; it's large enough for most repairs but won't leave behind a lot of wasted pieces. Be sure it's the same thickness as the drywall you're patching. Most drywall is 1/2" thick, but some is 3/8" or 5/8". If you're not sure, remove a switch plate and measure.
Place the patch over the damage and trace the shape of the patch. Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Your patch should be at least a couple of inches bigger than the damage in all directions. Mark the cut lines with a pencil, then score along those lines with a utility knife guided by a straightedge, such as a carpenter's square. Rest the drywall on a worktable and snap along the scored line as pictured above. Cut the paper backing with the utility knife.
2. To ensure a tight-fitting patch, use the patch itself as a template.
After reaching inside the hole to check for electrical wires or other obstructions, cut away the damaged area along the lines you have traced using a drywall saw. Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Cover the damaged area with the patch and trace the shape with a pencil. Try to avoid covering any area that's backed by a stud, or else cutting away the damaged area will be a bit more difficult. Use a drywall saw to cut around the damage.
3. Cut and attach wooden nailers to the opening.
Install nailers using drywall screws and a drill. Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Cut two nailers (pieces of wood) from 1 x 4 pine scrap. Using nailers eliminates the needs to find wall studs
for attaching the patch, and makes cutting out the damaged area an easier task. The nailers should be a few inches longer than the opening on top and bottom. Mount the nailers to the inside of the wall as shown below. This provides a secure platform to mount the patch over the hole.
4. Mix and apply drywall compound.
Install the patch by fastening it to the nailers with drywall screws. Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Thoroughly mix the drywall compound to begin taping over the patch. Mix for at least five minutes. If you have self-adhering tape, as shown, run it over the patch joints as shown.
Self-adhering nylon mesh tape makes taping a bit easier than using paper tape. Use a sharp blade to prevent ragged tears when cutting to length. Photo: Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Next, apply a coat of compound over the mesh tape. Make it as smooth as possible and just thick enough to cover the ridges of the mesh. Once dry, use a clean taping knife to "knock down" any ridges or burrs in the first coat.
Apply a thin coat of drywall compound over the mesh tape. Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Apply a second, wider, coat using a 10" taping knife (inexpensive plastic taping knives will bring down the cost of this repair, but if you expect to do more taping in the future, invest in good knives). Feather the edges of the joints so they appear flat. Once dry, scrape the surface to remove burrs and high spots.
Allow compound to completely dry between coats. The compound will turn bright white when dry, usually after 24 hours. Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Then, apply a third still wider coat with a 12" or 16" taping knife. If necessary, scrape and sand lightly with 150-grit abrasive paper until perfectly smooth. Lastly, paint the patched area with drywall primer first, paint finish coats and you're done!
Avoid sanding the drywall's paper facing or fibers will tear and be more difficult to paint. Carl Weese, Home & Garden Editorial Services
If you opt to use paper tape instead of self-adhering mesh tape, lay down a 1/4" thick bed of compound using a 6" taping knife. The bed of compound must be wider than the tape and not contain any voids. Then embed the tape by pushing it into the compound with your fingers. Make sure the tape is centered over the joints. Use the taping knife with light pressure to squeeze the compound from under the tape and to scrape away the excess. If you notice air bubbles under the tape, or folds or wrinkles, remove the tape and start over! Then allow the compound to dry before applying the second layer of compound.