How to Repair Drywall – A Step by Step DIY Guide

Drywall is a widely used building material since it’s relatively inexpensive, practical and easy to install, but it can only withstand so much damage. The good news is that if your drywalls takes some abuse, and winds up with a hole or two, you don’t always need to call in an expert to have the whole wall redone. By picking up a few materials and following this step-by-step guide, you should be able to repair your damaged drywall in no time at all.

Assess the Damage
While people with minimal home renovating experience should be able to fix holes in drywall, if the damage is extensive, you might want to consider getting some help. Assess the damage and then be honest with yourself. If you’re dealing with a relatively small problem then continue on, but if you’ve never installed drywall and there’s a hole the size of a deep freezer in it … consider saving some time and aggravation and call in a pro.

It’s also important to consider everyone’s safety before you proceed. If you’re working with larger sheets of drywall, then make sure there aren’t any small children or pets around that could be hurt by your drywall falling over. It’s also important to remember that cutting and sanding drywall can produce dust that can bother people’s lungs. Anyone in the immediate vicinity should be wearing a dust mask.

What You’ll Need
You may not need everything on this list, depending on the extent of the repairs your tackling, but here are some basic materials that are typically used: drywall screws, drywall tape, drywall compound, a taping knife, a utility knife, a drywall saw, a drywall sander, a screw gun, and of course, some drywall.

Small Holes
First off, you need to know what’s meant by a “small hole” and when it comes to drywall, we’re talking about ones that are made by screws and nails popping up through the surface.

If you’re dealing with a nail, then take a nail set or another small tool and push it back down. If it’s a drywall screw, then you’ll have to remove any compound that’s on the head with a knife, and then use a screwdriver to set it back in place.

Next, you’ll have to make sure the hole is slightly concave so you can fill it with drywall compound. You can do so by slightly tapping the area with a hammer, but be careful not to hit too hard, as then you’ll have to fix an even bigger hole! It’s also a good idea to remove any materials or edges that have emerged along the side with a knife.

Once the area is prepped it’s time to add the drywall compound. Add a little bit at first, let it dry, and then add a second coat. The first application will shrink some. Once the second coat is dry, sand around the bump to make it even with the wall. If the wall’s painted, then you’re going to need to add some primer with a roller, before finishing off with a final topcoat.

Big Holes
If you’re dealing with a larger hole – for example a hole that’s been caused by a chair being pushed through the drywall, then the repair is going to be a little more extensive. Assess the situation and decide if it’s a project you can handle on your own – if not there’s no shame in calling in a professional to make sure the job is done right.

The first thing you’re going to need to do is cut the hole into an even square. Doing so will make patching it a much easier process, rather than attempting to fill the uneven hole as is. Line up one side of the square over the top of a stud. Use a ruler or a piece of wood to draw straight lines.

Once you’ve drawn a square or rectangle around the hole, cut along the lines with your drywall saw. For your safety make sure you’re aware of any electrical outlets or pipes that are in the vicinity. Cut the drywall on one side so that the edge is centered on a stud.

Next, you’ll need a small piece of wood (pine usually works well) for your backing board. This is what provides the foundation for the repair. You can fasten it to the drywall using some type of adhesive or by screwing it into place. For really big holes, the backing board will need to be placed on the side of the square opposite the stud (the stud will function as the backing board for the far edge).

After the backing board is secure, cut a piece of drywall to fit the square or rectangle. Screw the drywall into place by using drywall screws.

Now that the patch is in place, it’s time to cover the repair panel seams with mesh tape. Make sure the tape is centered along the seams. If the patch is relatively small, you may need to cover the entire joint with tape.

Once that’s done, it’s time to cover the tape with a first layer of compound. This can be done with a drywall knife. Make sure you thoroughly cover the mesh tape and let it dry.

Before you put on a second coat, remove any bumps or rough edges with sandpaper. Now you can apply your second and final coats of compound. You may still need to sand away some extra material and any lingering roughness after you’re done. It’s worth taking the time to do this because it will provide a smooth, seamless finish.

Finally, it’s time to finish the deal by adding some primer and then a final coat of paint. While you may be tempted to skip the primer and save some time, doing so could cost you in the long run. Compound has a habit of absorbing paint, so if you don’t put some primer down, you might wind up with some inconsistency in the color.

Door Knob Holes
While you can use some of the techniques outlined above to repair door knob holes in your drywall, you can also pick up a repair kit for them. Most people find these kits much easier and quicker to use.

Typically these kits come with a sticky mesh tape patch, which is placed over the door knob hole. Once it’s in place, then all you have to do is apply a few coats of drywall compound, polish it off with some sanding, and then finish the repair with some primer and paint.