Proper Drywall Repair

Fix any small to medium size hole in walls and ceilings

Thinking about doing minor drywall repair yourself?

A little unsure about it?

Well, don't be. It's not nearly as hard or daunting a task, as it may seem. Just follow the simple step-by-step instructions, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Ready? O.K. then let's do the necessary ...


In the following pictures and outline, I'll show you what your basic tools and materials are for drywall repair. You don't necessarily have to have exactly what I specify, but at least something in the neighborhood operationally speaking.

tools and materials for drywall repair

picture of bucket of joint compound

Tools and Materials (pictured)

  • 12" Drywall Knife - to apply joint compound

  • Putty Knife - to scoop up joint compound from container

  • Container of Joint Compound, or drywall "mud" as it is known

  • Mesh (see-through) Type Drywall Tape - used to strengthen the repair piece to surrounding wall

  • Paint-Stir Stick and 1 1/4" Long Drywall Screws - to support drywall repair piece

  • Measuring Tape - to measure drywall repair piece (to later cut)

  • Utility Knife - use to clean and cut bits of flaky paper off of edges when cleaning

  • "Medium Grade Sandpaper - to use when sanding

  • Piece of Drywall (not pictured) - normally 1/2" is sufficient to use for drywall repair

    tool for cutting drywall

    Cut the Hole

    With your drywall saw (pictured), begin cutting hole. If not already done, proceed to cut, or "square-up" the hole, as it is much easier to cut and secure a squared drywall repair piece into place. Rather than trying to fit an irregular, awkward-fitting repair piece, this step significantly allows your drywall repair project to become much more efficient.

    As stated prior, if this is already basically done for you, go to next step.

    hole in drywall

    Clean Edges of Hole

    (This picture was taken at a distance to give you an idea of relative size of the hole. This type of hole is pretty common, and one that can certainly be fixed rather easily. It was already "squared", and required a little more cleaning that resulted in the hole that you see.)

    In this step, make sure to properly clean the edges of the hole of bits of drywall that might be hanging on. Also, take your utility knife, and gently cut any loose, or flaky pieces of paper that might also be hanging on as a result of tearing the drywall away when cutting takes place.

    Lastly, take a wet rag and wipe all around the edge to wipe off excess dust and paper.

    Now ... For The Drywall Repair

    install support piece for drywall repair

    Secure Wooden Paint Stick to Back of Hole

    This step adds support for your drywall repair piece to which you will secure with drywall screws. Use only coarse, tight-threaded 1 1/4" screws*. This type of threading will prevent the thin paint-stir stick from splitting.

    - *NOTE - With a phillips-head screwdriver (the criss-crossed head), wallow out a slight depression in the drywall where you will place your screw. The reason is so that the screw will depress lower than the top of the surface of the drywall, to allow for complete coverage of joint compound. When sanded, the surface will be smooth and consistent.

    repair drywall

    Secure Drywall Repair Piece Into Place

    This is the step to actually secure your drywall repair piece to the wooden stir-stick that you afixed to the back of wall within the hole.

    Using your pre-cut (by you) repair piece, wallow out two holes for the screws to go into, and place the repair piece lightly over the hole. Affix one screw, and then the other. Do not push too hard as you might break the support itself. Just let the screws and slight pressure from you, do the work.

    apply drywall tape to repair drywall area

    Apply Mesh Drywall Tape

    With your scissors or utility knife, cut same-length strips of tape, and apply to the repair area. Make sure to cut the strips to overlap the edges of the hole at least two to three inches. In some cases, I might even double-up the number of strips I use, depending on the repair.

    Why I like to use mesh tape, in addition to the overall strength it provides, the tape will adhere to the repair area. Just stick it on, and go.

    (The tape in the picture is very light and may not seem to be there at first glance, but it's there.)

    applying joint compound to drywall repair area

    Apply First Coat of Drywall "Mud", or Joint Compound

    In this step, take your putty knife and scoop out some mud, put it on the 12" drywall knife, and apply to repair area.

    Always check to see if the consistency of the joint compound is like that of cake icing, rather than that of being thick and pasty. Usually you need to whip the mud into shape. Just visit my page on how to properly prepare joint compound to smoothly apply the mud without any problems.

    Be sure to learn to gently apply joint compound and not slap it on haphazardly. Put it on slowly and surely. You'll know you've done a goog job by just barely seeing the mesh tape poking through the mud.

    And always "feather", or thinly fan out the edges of your application to provide consistency all around the perimeter of the repair area.

    It's best to let the mud dry over night, so as to completely let it set-up and firmly dry.


    Completely sand the repair area. Make sure to sand the edges well to remove any ridges that arise when applying mud,and subsequent hardening occurs. This is your first sanding step.

    applying drywall mud to repair area

    Second Coat of Joint Compound

    This step involves applying your second coat of drywall mud. As in the first application, coat the area with mud and extend the coverage out another 6" - 10" all around the edges, to add more strength to the repair itself. You're trying to achieve a consistent application that totally covers any tape that might be showing while maintaining a consistently "flat" look relative to the rest of the wall. In other words, you don't want have a repair job look like a hump in the middle of the wall.

    That's the reason for feathering out more joint compound beyond your original application.

    (I took this picture at this angle to give you an idea of how much more mud I added in the second coat, over the first coat of mud. Some people may not see the need to apply as much the second time around as I do, but I always feel comfortable with a little extra effort.)

    Second Sanding

    With your "medium" grade sand paper, perform the second sanding. Be sure to sand in a circular motion while applyng consistent pressure to any one area. You don't want to "gouge", or sand a rut into your repair. Just be nice and consistent in your sanding motion. Don't over-sand especially at the taped area. While generally not a problem, you don't want to sand the taped areas to the point of taking off what mud you did apply earlier.

    The best way to know when you've sanded enough is to simply take your hand and feel the wall itself. Does it feel smooth, or rough? If rough, sand a little more.

    At this point, you'll have to determine to add maybe a third coat (you'll definitely do a third application for large repairs) or let the second coat be the final one. Your "feel" will tell the story for you.

    When you're through with the actual repair, always prime the wall for proper sealing.

    Well, that's about it for drywall repair. Remember, for a slightly bigger repairs, you'll need to work with bigger paint stir-sticks - for use with 5 gallon buckets of paint - or even using the wall studs themselves for support, to hang your drywall repair piece.

    And for those people with drywall work and no time ...

    "I Need Drywall Work Done ... I Just Don't Want To Do It!"

    If you've got some drywall issues that need to be addressed but simply don't have the time (nor the inclination) to do it yourself, you should get a professional Home Improvement contractor to give you an estimate for the cost of repairs, especially for large repair work.

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