Drywall Repair Techniques for Large Holes
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
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
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
Step 5 - Place Additional Coats of Compound Over Tape
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
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
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
offers the novice drywaller guidance for that first drywall project.
There are additional articles on repairing holes, types of drywall and
common drywall "myths".