How to Repair Drywall Holes

Stacks of drywall at a home improvement place

Written by KS

September 2, 2021

The longer you have your home, you’ll inevitably have to do some repairs to the ceiling and/or walls.  Most interiors of homes and buildings are constructed with drywall or Sheetrock.  It’s basically what holds them together.  However drywall can be impaired with very little effort.  (Especially if you have children and animals.)  But with proper supplies, equipment, and instructions on how to repair drywall holes, it isn’t too difficult.

2 Shetland Sheepdogs and a toddler in a suburban backyard

There are many reasons to repair drywall.  However I’m only covering holes today.  Because, as homeowners (and families living in apartments), we can all relate to a door being slammed open.  And the doorknob going straight into the wall.  But there are other reasons you might get a hole in your wall.  Also, it could be big or small.  So the size of the hole will determine how you fix it.  Furthermore the primary goal of drywall repair is to make it look like there was never any defect.

How to Repair Drywall Holes

Equipment/Tools to Repair Drywall Holes

  • Drill with bits
  • Drywall saw
  • Razor knife
  • Taping/drywall knives
  • Putty knife
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Drywall mud pan
  • Hammer
  • Paintbrush and roller
  • Eye protection
  • Respirator mask
  • Work gloves

Supplies to Repair Drywall Holes

  • Piece of drywall or Sheetrock
  • Drywall patch kit
  • Spackling compound
  • Drywall tape
  • Joint compound
  • Drywall screws
  • Tarp
  • Furring strips or pieces of plywood 3 inches wide
  • Hand sander w/drywall sanding screens
  • Primer
  • And interior paint

Most of the time the repairs you’ll need on your walls will be small.  So you might not even need all of the listed supplies.  Unless you have kids or pets.  In which case, I’ve included them, because these instructions will definitely come in handy.

Instructions on How to Repair Small Drywall Holes

respirator on red background

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

When working with drywall, wear protective equipment.  Including goggles, gloves, and a respirator.  Additionally putting a tarp down will go a long way in helping you with clean-up when you’re finished.

These instructions are for if you have a small hole in your drywall.  Like a ding or a dent.  In which case all you need to do is scrape away any dust and debris from the hole.  Next, cover the hole with spackling compound, making sure it’s level with the wall.  Then allow the spackling to dry ~24 hours before sanding it smooth.  And finally, touch up the paint if you have leftover paint that was originally used.  Otherwise you’ll need to paint the entire wall.

How to Repair Popped Nail Heads

There are several reasons you might get a popped nail in either your wall or ceiling.  However, generally, they’re due to movement.  Either the drywall moved, or the nail did.  But whatever the cause, in order to fix the issue

  • Drill a drywall screw ~1 1/2 inches over the popped nail head into the stud.  This is in order to refasten the drywall to the stud.  Drive the screw just below the surface of the drywall, so it can be covered with spackling compound.
  • Next, hammer in the popped nail.
  • Coat the recessed screw and nail heads with spackling compound until even with the wall.
  • And wait ~24 hours till dry before sanding it smooth.
  • Again, touch up the paint if you have any leftover paint that was used originally.

How to Repair Other Small Drywall Holes

Drywall patch kit

These small holes can be caused by the aforementioned doorknobs.  And typically they can be fixed with a patch kit.

  • Basically peel off the backing and press the patch over the hole.
  • Next, using a drywall knife, cover the patch with spackling compound in a crisscross pattern.  Be sure to feather the edges, so it matches the rest of the wall.
  • Allow the patch to dry and add a second coat of spackling compound if necessary.  Then sand smooth before painting.  Make sure you have plenty of the original paint, otherwise you’ll need to paint the entire wall.

How to Repair Medium Drywall Holes

Hole in drywall with plumbing exposed

These types of holes could be due to other repairs that were done on your home.  Like plumbing or electrical repairs.  Pipes and wires tend to hide in drywall, so it’s not uncommon to have to do a medium or large drywall hole repair if either your plumbing or electrical equipment need repairs.  But before doing any sawing on your walls, verify there are no wires or plumbing where you’ll be working by looking in the hole with a flashlight.

And because the damage to the walls are bigger, they need something sturdier than a patch.  Which is why painters and drywall contractors typically repair holes ~ 6 inches or more with drywall.  So, if you have one bigger than a doorknob but less than 6 inches, you’ll need to

  • Cut a piece of drywall into a square shape that’s roughly 2 inches larger than the width and height of the hole that’s to be fixed.
  • Score the back of the drywall with a utility knife ~ 1 inch from side to side.
  • Leaving the paper backing intact, snap off the gypsum.
  • Holding your homemade drywall patch over the hole, trace around the gypsum square.  But don’t include the paper border.  And when you’re done, using a drywall saw, cut out the traced square.
  • Fit the gypsum into the newly cut hole.  And put drywall tape over the perimeter of the new piece, overlapping both the new and old drywall.
  • Entirely cover the drywall patch and tape with joint compound.  Also be sure to feather the edges.
  • Let it dry ~24-48 hours, depending on humidity.  But once it’s dry, apply a thin layer of joint compound.  Continue to cover the drywall tape, feathering to make it look like one continuous piece.
  • Allow it to dry again before sanding it down with drywall sandpaper, so it’s level with the surrounding wall.
  • Then add texture, attempting to match the surrounding walls, with either spackling compound or watered down joint compound.  This has a 24 hour set-up.
  • And when it’s finished drying, it’s ready to be painted to match the rest of the wall.

How to Repair Large Drywall Holes

Stacks of smaller drywall sheets

Large holes are anything bigger than 6 inches.  And the instructions for fixing large drywall holes are similar to the above with one main exception.  Which is, the method of attachment is different.  Thus, if it’s a large repair, the drywall will need to be screwed to the wall.

Remember to make sure there are no wires or plumbing by checking the hole before doing any cutting.

  • Cut a piece of drywall that’s slightly larger than the area that needs to be repaired.
  • Hole your square of drywall over the hole and trace around the edges.
  • Using a drywall saw, cut along the lines on the wall.
  • Once that’s done, attach a piece of plywood (or a furring strip) to either side of the hole with screws.  Then secure the screws below the surface of the drywall.
  • Next, place the drywall patch (you made) over the empty square of wall.  And screw it into the furring strips, anchoring the screws beneath the surface of the drywall.
  • Then apply the drywall tape over the perimeter of the new piece, overlapping both the new and old drywall.
  • Completely cover the new drywall patch and tape with joint compound, being sure to feather the edges.
  • Let it dry ~24-48 hours, depending on humidity.  However once it’s dry, apply a second layer of joint compound.  Continue to cover the drywall tape, feathering to make it look like one continuous piece.
  • Allow it to dry again before sanding it down with drywall sandpaper, so it’s level with the surrounding wall.
  • Then add texture with either spackling compound or watered down joint compound as you attempt to match the surrounding walls.  This has a 24 hour set-up.
  • And finally, when it’s finished drying, it’s ready to be painted to match the rest of the wall.

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