How to Repair Drywall

Hand repairs wall with spackling pasteDented, chipped, broken, and otherwise damaged drywall can be unsightly. However, a hurried or amateur-looking repair may look even worse. Repairing damaged sheet rock isn’t too difficult, as long as you have a bit of patience. There are several ways to repair drywall, and the correct type of repair depends on the size of the damage. We will discuss three methods here.

Small repair. A small repair is an area smaller than 1/2” if it goes through the sheet rock, or up to an inch if the sheet rock isn’t punctured. This type of repair is suitable for dings and dents, nail holes, small paper tears, or a nail or screw sticking thorough the sheet rock.

1. Remove any loose sheet rock, paint, paper, nails or screws.
2. If the sheet rock is loose, insert a new sheet rock screw an inch or so above the damaged area. Be careful to have the screw recessed into the face of the sheet rock, but not tear the paper.
3. Cover the area to be repaired with a thin layer of joint compound, sheet rock mud, drywall mud, spackle, patching compound, or similar. Any of these items will work. The idea is to use as thin of a layer as possible but still ensure it’s all covered. Cover a few inches past the damaged area, and taper the edges.
4. Wait 24 hours.
5. Sand the area with a sanding sponge. Don’t skip or get lazy on this step. The sanding is what makes or breaks a repair. Continue sanding until the repaired area is as smooth and flat as possible.
6. Wipe off the dust with a slightly damp sponge.
7. Prime, then paint.

Medium repair. This includes larger holes, generally punched through the sheetrock, up to 1” – 2” in diameter.

1. Perform steps 1 and 2 above.
2. Cover the area with a self adhesive drywall tape or repair tape.
3. Perform steps 3-5 above.
4. Apply a second coat of joint compound.
5. Let dry 24 hours.
6. Finish as in steps 5-7 above.

Large repair. Typical large repairs include holes from doorknobs, to a foot of fist hole in the wall, and almost anything larger than about 2”.

1. Using a flashlight, inspect the area behind the sheet rock. Ensure that there are no electrical, plumbing, or gas lines in the area. If utilities are discovered, you may consider hiring a professional, depending on your comfort level. It is imperative that electrical, gas, water, and sewer lines not be disturbed.
2. Measure the area to be repaired. This should be a few inches past the damaged area.
3. Using a scrap or another piece of sheet rock, cut a repair piece the size to cover the needed repair. It is much easier to ensure make this repair piece has square corners, not a rounded or other shape.
4. Put the repair piece over the damaged area, and trace the perimeter of the repair piece of sheet rock
5. Cut out the damaged sheet rock. This should result in a hole approximately the same size and shape as the repair piece of sheet rock
6. Cut some furring strips (1” x 2” pieces of wood) 2” – 4” larger than the hole.
7. Insert the furring strips into the hole and secure with sheet rock screws above and below the hole. You will want a furring strip on each side of the hole, and about every 12” – 16”.
8. Fasten the repair piece of sheet rock into the prepared hole. Fasten with sheet rock screws every 8” – 12”.
9. Perform the steps for medium repairs listed above.
10. You may need to apply three coats of joint compound, depending on the size of the hole
11. If you have a slight texture, called “orange peel texture” on your walls, you may want to spray sheet rock texture to the area. For small repair areas, this is sold in a small aerosol can. A sanded smooth, flat surface will not blend in if in the middle of a wall with orange peel texture.

Repairing damaged sheet rock yourself keeps your home in great condition without the added cost of hiring a contractor and gives you the satisfaction of a job well done.

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