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No matter how big or small it is, a hole in the wall is an unsightly blemish that won’t go away by itself. Watch this video to learn how to fix everything from small nail pops, to large gaping holes in drywall.
Repairing a hole in your drywall may seem like a challenge if you’ve never done it before. But it’s not that difficult if you have the right tools and materials, as well as knowledge of the proper techniques. And the best place to find everything you need for your project, as well as the necessary know-how, is at your local independent home improvement retailer.
Today, I’m going to show you how to fix holes in your wall, whether they are small, medium or large in size. First, we’ll show you how to assess the situation and determine what type of patch you’ll need. Then we’ll teach you the proper techniques to make it look like nothing ever happened in the first place. So let’s get started.
To fix a hole in your wall generally requires some type of patch to cover the hole, whether it is a metal patch like the one I’m holding here, or another piece of drywall like this. In addition to the patch, you need drywall patching compound to smooth out the patch and a putty knife to spread the drywall compound over the patch. Be sure to check out the Tools and Materials Checklist for everything you’ll need. You may also want to pull up our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this project before you get started.
The most common type of drywall repair actually doesn’t require a patch. It involves fixing a small hole. For this type of repair, you first need to clean out the hole with a blade knife, angling your cut to make the front of the hole larger than the back. This will give the compound more surface to adhere to.
Next, fill the hole with drywall compound or painter’s putty using a putty knife to smooth it out, and make it level with the wall surface. Let it dry and sand it smooth. In this step we’re using a lightweight spackling that goes on pink and turns white when it’s dry, which lets you know it’s ready for sanding. Whether you’re using drywall compound, spackling or painters’ putty, they all have a tendency to shrink as they dry, so you will need to repeat the process several times before the hole is properly filled.
The easiest way to repair a medium-size hole in drywall is to use an adhesive-backed metal patch. These come in various sizes depending on the size of the hole you’re trying to fix. To start this repair, first sand the surface smooth around the hole so the adhesive mesh will easily stick to the surface of the wall. After you’re finished sanding, wipe off any dust.
Next, peel the paper backing off the back of the patch and place it over the hole so that the mesh surface faces outward. Firmly press the patch in place around the edges of the hole.
Using a putty knife, spread drywall compound over the entire patch, feathering out the edges beyond the patch onto the wall. Allow the compound to dry and sand it smooth. Then repeat the process, each time spreading it a little further out from the edges of the patch.
Smoothing out the edges of the drywall compound flush with the surface of the wall is called feathering. The wider you feather out the edges from the edge of the patch, the smoother the end result will be.
Keep in mind that to get a smooth finish, it takes repeating the process two or maybe even three times, letting it dry and sanding it smooth between each step. The key is to be patient. You don’t want to apply too much compound, or sand too much away, in any one step. The patching process is complete when you have a smooth finish, and when the patch can’t be detected.
Larger holes in a wall require a patch made of drywall, which is also commonly referred to as wall board or gypsum board. The key to this type of repair is to make sure your drywall patch is the same thickness as the drywall used in your wall. The drywall in most homes is ½-inch thick. But double check the thickness of your existing drywall before heading to your local independent home improvement retailer. This is one time when it’s handy to have a hole in the wall.
Now it’s time to cut a patch. First, cut a piece of drywall that is slightly larger than the hole you are trying to repair. Even a piece of scrap drywall will work, as long as it has straight edges. To cut the drywall, you can either cut it with the drywall saw or use a blade knife to score and snap it, scoring the front using the blade knife and a straight edge, then snapping it in two pieces. You’ll also need to score the back along the snap line.
Next, place the drywall patch over the hole in the wall and trace the shape on the wall with a pencil. Be sure to check for any electrical wires or plumbing lines that might be located behind the wall where you will be cutting. If there are no electrical or plumbing lines present, use a drywall saw to punch a hole through the drywall along your line. Then cut out the shape you traced. If electrical wires or plumbing lines are present, you may want to call an electrician or a plumber as a precautionary measure.
The trick to this repair is screwing wooden cleats, like these, inside the hole along the edges. They need to be longer than the width of the hole. Place some construction adhesive on the ends of the cleats before screwing them to the hole using drywall screws. Be careful that the screws don’t break the paper surface of the drywall. You only want the screw to dimple the drywall like you see here.
Now, screw your drywall patch to the wooden cleats, again being careful not to break the drywall’s paper coating.
Apply a thin layer of drywall compound to the seams and cover with mesh tape, bedding the tape in the drywall compound. Then apply some more drywall compound to completely cover the tape. Let it dry, then apply more drywall compound, feathering the edges as you go. Like we did for the patches we discussed earlier, it will take several coats, as well as a light sanding, between each coat. This is how to achieve a smooth finish that is virtually undetectable.
All you have to do now is prime the patch using a drywall primer then paint the patch to match the existing wall color. If you don’t have paint to match, be sure to watch our video on selecting the right type of paint. There you have it. That’s how to make an unsightly hole in your wall disappear before your very eyes.
If you have questions about this or any other home improvement project, be sure to read our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this video. And be sure to print out our Project Instructions, which includes a Tools and Materials checklist, before visiting your local independent home improvement retailer. That’s where you’ll find all the products and helpful advice to complete your project. If you’re not sure where to find your local store, check out our Store Locator.
Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.
Clean hole with blade knife. Cut at an angle so the exterior of the hole is bigger than the interior.
Fill the hole with painter's putty. Make it level with the wall surface.
Let it dry. Once dry, lightly sand the area until smooth.
Spackle over the putty. You may need to repeat this step.
For medium holes, use a drywall metal patch.
Sand the surface smooth around the hole.
Wipe off dust.
Peel paper backing off the patch. Firmly press patch in place with mesh facing outward.
Spread drywall compound over the patch, feathering out the edges. Smooth out and let dry.
Gently sand surface until smooth with the wall. Repeat step 9 and 10 until the patch can no longer be detected.
Larger holes need patches made of drywall. Make sure it is the same thickness as the drywall already present.
Cut a square of drywall slightly larger than the hole. Score one side with a blade knife and snap it apart. Cut the back of the break line.
Draw an outline of the patch around the hole using a pencil.
Check for electrical cords and plumbing lines where you plan the cut.
Use a drywall saw to cut out the drawn area.
Screw in two wooden boards behind the drywall, one at the top and one at the bottom of the hole. This will keep the patch from falling through.
Screw the drywall patch to the wooden boards.
Spread drywall compound and add mesh.
Sand area and repeat steps 18 and 19 until the patch is undetectable.
Paint over once it's dry.