Since World War II, drywall (also known as wallboard or gypsum board) is the material most commonly used for interior walls because it is quicker to install than plaster. It is also easier for the average homeowner to repair. Here are several methods for fixing surface defects ranging in size from the smallest dent to large holes of a foot or more. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.
Tools & Materials
- Metal straightedge
- Tape measure
- Joint knives
- Sanding sponge
- Drywall saw
- Dust mask
- Utility knife
- Drywall scraps for patches
- Drywall tape
- Joint compound
- Drywall patching plaster
- Piece of wire screen
- Masking tape
- 1x2s or 1x4s for backer boards
- Drywall screws
- Construction adhesive
- Clean off loose edges. Sand the depression to roughen its surface. Dip a joint knife into the compound sideways and load about half the blade width. Pull the knife across the dented area with a slow smooth stroke. Position the knife at a 90-degree angle and pull across again to remove excess compound. If the patch shrinks as it dries, apply a second coat.
- To blend in the repair with its surroundings, sand it very lightly — or smooth it out by wiping with a dampened sponge.
- Joint compounds, being relatively porous, must be primed before you paint them. Some paints also serve as primers.
Mending Split Tape
- Begin by carefully pulling away the loose tape. Use a sharp knife at edges or you may pull off material from either side as well.
- Apply compound to the wall, position the new tape, then smooth out any bubbles with light, vertical knife strokes.
- While the compound is still wet, apply a second coat. Let it dry, then lightly coat again, feather out the edges, and sand or sponge.
Setting Popped Nails
- Press the panel against the stud, then drive new nails above and below the old one. Ring-shank types have better holding power.
- Dimple each nail below the surface with your last hammer blow. Pull the popped nail and fill dimples with compound.
- After the compound dries, apply a second thin coat, feathering it out at the edges. Wait a day, then sponge, prime, and paint.
Iron-on Patches for Small Holes
- Cut the polymer fabric to size and iron with a household iron set at medium heat.
- Apply compound over fabric and sand when the compound has dried.
- Always wear a dust mask while sanding joint compound.
Patching Holes 1" to 5"
- Clean away loose drywall and cut off any loose paper. Leave the inner part of the gypsum rough. Cut a piece of wire screen 2" larger than the hole all around. Tie one end of a 12" string to a small stick or pencil, and thread the other end through the center of the screen.
- Bend the wire screen and insert the stick and screen into the hole. Pull the string until the stick holds the screen flat against the back of the hole. Holding the string taut, fill the hole, working in from the edges. Make sure the compound adheres to the wire screen. Tape the string tightly against the wall with masking tape.
- When the compound has dried completely, cut the string flush to the wall. When using joint compound, remember it will shrink; apply another layer to bring the patch even with the wall. A third layer may even be needed. See Finishing After Repairing.
Patching Holes 5" to 8"
- Measure the size of the hole you need to repair. Cut out (at a bevel) a rectangular piece of drywall at least an inch larger than the hole you are patching. Using the patch as a template, place it over the hole and trace. Cut out using the tracing as your guide at the same bevel as the patch.
- If the patch does not fit well, trim as needed with a utility knife. Spread compound around the beveled edges and fit the patch into place using a little pressure.
- Smooth compound around the edges of the patch on the wall. Smooth it out and put drywall tape over all joints with the joint knife. At the end of each joint, press the edge of the knife blade in firmly and use as a straightedge to tear off the tape. Sand when dry. See Finishing After Repairing.
Patching Larger Holes with Backer Boards
- Measure the size of the hole you need to repair. Cut out (at a bevel) a rectangular piece of drywall at least an inch larger that the hole you are patching. Using the patch as a template, place it over the hole and trace. Cut out using the tracing as your guide at the same bevel as the patch.
- Insert a backer board with construction adhesive applied to the ends. Hold the backer board firmly in place and screw drywall screws through the drywall into the board, at least 1" away from the edge of the hole. Repeat if using two backer boards.
- Place the new piece of drywall in the hole and fasten it to the backer board(s) with screws.
- Smooth compound around the edges of the patch on the wall. Smooth it out and put drywall tape over all joints with the joint knife. At the end of each joint, press the edge of the knife blade in firmly and use as a straightedge to tear off the tape. Sand when dry. Finish as shown next.
Finishing After Repairing
- With both large and small drywall repairs, finishing is the same. Using a wide joint knife, spread a smooth, thin layer of joint compound over the repaired area or over all joints of the new patch. Be sure to extend beyond the damaged part and feather the edges out to the surrounding wall.
- Wait at least 24 hours. The compound should be dry before you sand it. Use a fine-grade drywall sandpaper on a sanding block. Wear a dust mask when sanding. You may have to repeat both these steps to achieve the desired results.