Drywall Repair Techniques for Large Holes

by Mike Sakowski of Drywallinfo.com


If you have kids or teenagers in your home, chances are that you will eventually get a large hole in your drywall like the one shown on the left. You could hire a person to fix the hole, but a better solution would be to learn how to fix this yourself. Or better yet, have the son or daughter that made the hole learn how to fix it!

This repair is not as difficult as it seems. Here is a summary of the steps: Cut out the damaged area, attach nailing pieces for the patch piece to be fastened, attach the patch piece, tape and finish the joints, and prime and paint. The photos shown on this page are from an actual repair done 4 years ago - that repair still looks great and is not noticeable.

Step 1 - Cut the Damaged Area Out

 Start by locating studs on each side of the damaged area. A stud finder will help you find these studs. Then hammer in a small nail until you locate the edges of the studs. Mark a line on the edges of each stud and also mark lines perpendicular so you may cut out a rectangle piece that contains your damaged piece. Keep the cutout rectangle in one piece if you can since it will serve as a pattern for your patch piece.

Step 2 - Attach 2x2's and Plywood on Edges

On each stud, fasten a 2x2 with nails or screws. These 2x2's will serve as backing for your patch piece. You will screw the patch piece directly to the 2x2's. Also, attach a 4 inch wide piece of plywood to the top and possibly bottom of your cutout hole. To attach the plywood, tuck half of the plywood behind the existing drywall and drive screws through the drywall and into the plywood backing strip. You will also fasten the patch piece(s) into the plywood piece underneath.

Step 3 - Cut Out and Attach a Patch Panel

If the rectangular damaged piece is intact, use it as a pattern for cutting out a patch piece. Otherwise, carefully measure and cut out a patch piece. Attach your patch piece with screws every 6 inches or so all the way around the perimeter, as shown in the photo, fastening into the 2x2's and the plywood strip(s) underneath.

Step 4 - Tape Your Joints

Precut your paper tape pieces for your joints. Apply an ample amount of joint compound to each seam to be taped. Quickly pass each piece of paper tape through a bucket of water and shake off the excess water. Place the tape over the compound and then use a 4 1/2" wide taping knife, held at about a 45 degree angle, to imbed the tape while squeezing out the excess compound with a moderate amount of pressure. This will leave only a thin layer of compound between the tape and wall. The excess compound will be forced out the sides. Carefully skim off any excess from the sides. Let this dry before proceeding to the next step. For more details, tutorials, and videos on taping joints, see Drywallinfo.com.


Step 5 - Place Additional Coats of Compound Over Tape (above)

Before applying any additional coats, you should use your taping knife to knock off any bumps or ridges - the surface should be level. Apply a coat a few inches wider than your tape, using a generous amount of compound. Then use a 12" taping knife to skim off most of this coat. It is helpful to dip the knife in water before skimming. Get most of the compound off, leaving a level coat over the tape. Let this dry.

Repeat with another coat, making your joint a few inches wider yet. Let dry. Scrape off bumps and ridges with a taping knife.

Now, place a coat overlapping each edge of your coat, leaving the middle area uncoated. Let this dry. Scrape level.

Place a coat in the middle area, filling in this area. Now, you have very wide coat! Let this dry. Then scrape level.

Step 6 - Inspect Work, Apply Touch-up Coats

Once again use your taping knife (not sand paper) to level out your surface, knocking off any bumps or ridges. Then, use a trouble light or house lamp with shade removed to show any drag marks or depressions. The low angle light will make them stick out like a sore thumb! Use small amounts of slightly thinned out joint compound, skimmed off level with either the 4 1/2" knife or 12" taping knife, as shown in the left photo.

These touch up coats will dry fairly quickly so you can go over the area again after all is dry to touch up again. Don't forget to scrape the surface level before each new coat!

When all touch up work is done, you should have a surface that could be textured with no sanding whatsoever. But, to paint, a little very light sanding should be done in the next step.

Step 10 - Finish Sand, Then Prime, and Paint - You will want to sand very lightly using about 200 grit paper on a sanding block. Use a random circular motion. You are just touching up the surface and you should not be removing any significant amounts of joint compound.

After sanding, clean the surface by wiping or vacuuming. Then apply a primer with a paint roller and then finish up with paint to match the rest of the wall. To get a perfect paint match, paint up to the nearest doorway or corner.

Here's the punch line!!

This repair was done by my two kids, age 11 and 12, under my guidance and instruction! Anyone can do this type of repair!

Mike Sakowski of DrywallInfo.com offers the novice drywaller guidance for that first drywall project.
There are additional articles on repairing holes, types of drywall and common drywall "myths".