How To's - How to Patch and Repair Drywall

How to Patch and Repair Drywall

You can patch and repair drywall with relative ease. The tools, materials and effort required depend on the amount of damage you’ll be repairing.


Small holes, like those created when you hang a picture, can be done quickly. A medium-sized hole or a gap that’s too big to fill will require a little more attention. More extensive damage will require cutting a section of wall and replacing with a new section of drywall.


In each section of this guide, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for repairing each level of damage.

Patching Small Holes in Drywall

For a single small hole, nick or gouge, you only need a putty knife and joint compound or spackle. Vinyl spackle is ideal if it’s small and you want to paint soon after fixing the wall. It goes on easy and dries fast.


Tools and Materials

• Putty knife, 2-4”
• Sand paper
• Joint compound (mud) or spackle




Step 1. Sand the surface of the wall smooth.


Step 2. Scoop out a little of the mud or spackle. Apply over the area of the hole with a single, smooth stroke.


Step 3. Make a second pass at a 90-degree to the original. Then, make one more pass in the same direction as your first application. This will ensure a good fill and remove any excess.


Step 4. Let dry. Paint once dry.

Patching & Repairing Medium-Sized Holes in Drywall

Some holes are clearly too big to be filled with joint compound. Or maybe you tried to fill it and the spackle fell into the wall. It happens. In this case, you’re dealing with a medium-sized hole.


The simplest fix is to get a metal drywall patch from the local hardware store.


Tools and Materials

• Putty knife, 4-6”
• Sand paper
• Joint compound (mud)




Step 1. Sand the surface of the wall smooth.


Step 2. Clean the area with a damp towel to clear away dust.


Step 3. Remove the paper backing from the patch. Press the patch over the hole with the mesh facing toward you.


Step 4. Apply joint compound over the patch. Smooth it and feather the edges.


To “feather” means to apply the compound so it covers the patch but does not have a ridge where the edge meets the wall. This requires holding the putty knife at a slight angle, to apply more pressure around the edges of the compound around the patch and less in the middle. You’ll probably want to spread the compound out 1–2” beyond the edge of the mesh.   


Step 5. Let dry.


Step 6. Sand it smooth. Avoid sanding too much, so that you don’t expose the mesh of the patch.


Step 7. Clean the area to remove dust. Then, apply another layer of mud. Repeat steps 4-6 until the wall is smooth and you can’t tell the patch is there.


Step 8. After the final sanding, clean the area. Primer the area, then paint.

Repairing Large Holes in Drywall

To repair larger holes in drywall is simple, but requires a little more time, effort and care.


Tools and Materials

• Putty knife, 6”
• Sand paper
• Utility knife
• Drywall saw
• Cordless driver
• Drywall screws
• Mesh or drywall tape
• Joint compound (mud)




Step 1. Cut a piece of drywall larger than the hole. Make sure it’s the same thickness as the existing drywall. To cut drywall, measure and mark the cut. Score the mark with a utility knife. Snap the drywall along the line. Cut the back of the drywall carefully so you don’t break the backing of the piece you will use.


Step 2. Take the piece you will use to patch. Put it over the hole and draw an outline of the drywall piece onto the wall. This indicates where you will cut.


Step 3. IMPORTANT: Check for electrical wire and pipes in the wall where you plan to make the patch. If there are any, you will need to be extra careful not to cut these.


Step 4. Using your drywall saw, cut along the line on the wall to remove. If you discover you’re over a stud, cut that section with a utility knife.


Step 5. If there is no stud behind the area you are going to patch, you will need to put something in place to secure the new piece of drywall. You have two options:

• Use 1x2” boards, or
• Use metal clips. You can find these in a hardware store.


If you use boards, you’ll need to get it into the wall and screw it in place. You’ll need one at the top and one at the bottom of the hole to hold the new drywall piece in place.


If you use metal clips, you can follow the instructions, but here’s how they work:

• Slide the metal clip into place, spaced per the directions, around the edge of the hole.
• Secure to current wall with screws. The nice feature of these is that the clips hold them in place as you drill.
• Once you secure the new piece of drywall in place, you’ll snap the metal clips off.


Step 6. Attach the new piece of drywall to the boards or the metal clips. Screw in place carefully so the screw creates a dimple, but the head of the screw does not break through the paper of the drywall.


Step 7. Spread joint compound around the edge of the drywall where it meets the wall. Apply drywall tape or mesh. If you cut a piece a little long, it’s ok. You can cut it before you apply the next coat of mud. Cover with a light coat of mud and make it smooth along the joint. You may want to add a little water to the compound as this will help drywall tape stick.


Step 8. Once the mud dries, sand gently. Apply another coat of mud, feathering the edges. Let it dry.


Step 9. Repeat step 8 until the patch is no longer visible and the wall is smooth.


Step 10. Apply primer and paint.

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