Drywall is everywhere in homes and over time it can start to look blemished. From nails to screws popping up to dents caused by lumber shrinkage there are lots of things that can go wrong with your walls.
Nail and screw holes are pretty simple to fix but dents can be tricky, especially if you plan on repainting the room. These cool drywall hacks are quick, easy and will save you some time and money.
1. Make a Homemade Patch
Small holes in drywall are annoying but can often be fixed quickly. Minor blemishes like dents or nail holes can be covered up with a quick dab of touch-up paint that blends into the wall’s color. Larger blemishes are more difficult to cover up, but can be fixed by repairing the hole and repainting.
When a nail or screw pops through the drywall it can cause a hole that requires a drywall patch. Generally, small nail holes are easy to fix with spackle or a lightweight joint compound (also known as mud) and a putty knife. It is important to remove any protruding paper or gypsum from the border of the hole before you can patch it. This will help prevent the patch from shifting and reduce future damage to your drywall.
For larger holes, a drywall patch kit can be a cost-effective option that includes everything you need to complete a repair. Follow the instructions on the package to place the patch over the hole and secure it to the wall. Use a putty knife to smooth the patch and feather the edges, so it blends in with the surrounding drywall. Once the patch is dry, apply a second coat and lightly sand it smooth before painting.
If your drywall patch is larger than 6 inches, you should secure it to the wall using a drywall screw in each corner. You should also add two pieces of scrap wood inside the wall on each side, so the square sits snugly against the studs. These supports, called furring strips, will strengthen the wall and keep the patch from slipping over time.
Typically, you can save money by purchasing a large sheet of drywall and cutting it into a patch size with a utility knife. It is important to make sure the cut piece of drywall is the same size and shape as the original hole, so the resulting patch will fit seamlessly in the hole. Once you have your patch size, you can apply a thin coat of joint compound over the entire surface and sand it smooth before repainting.
2. Paint the Holes
Drywall repair is one of those DIY skills that can seem scary to a novice, but with a little patience and the right tools you can get professional-looking results. This is a great skill to have if you’re a serial renter or a new homeowner; having the ability to patch holes and cracks will save you money in the long run, and is one of those projects that can actually be quite fun.
First, clean the hole and surrounding area thoroughly. If you don’t do this, the paint may not adhere properly. Using a damp cloth, wipe down the surface of the wall in a 1’ – 2’ radius around the hole. Lightly sand the area if necessary to smooth it. Next, apply a coat of drywall spackle to the hole and surrounding areas. Apply a second coat and sand it until it is smooth and blends with the rest of the wall. Allow to dry overnight.
Larger holes in drywall can be more difficult to repair yourself, but there are still several options for you to try. One way is to use a kit that contains a type of mesh, available in many different sizes, as the first step of covering the hole. The patch also comes with a pre-applied adhesive that allows you to stick it to the wall like a sticker.
Another option is to brace the hole. This is a bit more complicated, but it will yield the most seamless-looking result. Find the highest and lowest points of the damage, then mark at least 1 inch above and below those points. Using your drywall saw, cut along those lines, being careful not to nick any pipes or wires. Once the drywall is cut, clear away any chipped paint or debris, then sand the area smooth.
Once the area is sanded, apply a few coats of joint compound to the drywall patch and surrounding areas. Make sure to apply thin even coats, as if you apply too thick of a layer the ridge will show and look obvious. Allow each coat to dry overnight, and sand the area again until it is smooth and blends with the surrounding wall. Finally, prime and paint the patched area to match the color of the rest of the wall.
3. Tape the Holes
Drywall is pretty tough stuff, but it’s not indestructible. Over time, it can be dented by a vacuum cleaner, furniture or children flinging toys. Sometimes the dent goes all the way through the wall and shows on the other side. Often the problem is caused by the metal corner bead that runs along the edges of two adjacent sheets. It’s nailed to the corners of each sheet and then concealed with a joint compound.
When the bead becomes damaged, it leaves a hole in the wall that needs to be fixed. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix. Cut a piece of plaster patch that’s six to eight inches longer than the square of the wall hole, then apply it to the hole. Smooth it with a drywall taping knife, then add several more coats of compound to blend and smooth the patch and remove ridges. Then sand it, prime and paint.
You can also use this technique to repair a crack in a drywall seam. It’s a little more complicated, as you have to properly bed new tape in the drywall mud, but it’s still a fairly simple DIY project that most homeowners can do.
Any holes larger than about 6 inches in size will require a drywall patch. This means you’ll need a few more supplies than just the bare necessities of spackle or joint compound (also known as mud) and paper tape. You’ll also need a drywall saw to cut the patch, wood backing strips for the patch and drywall screws. The most important thing to remember when installing a patch is to make sure the new patch is level, then tape and “mud” the seams just like you would on brand-new drywall. If you follow the steps, the new hole will be nearly invisible when painted.
4. Fill the Holes
While drywall may seem like a job for the pros, it’s not impossible to fix holes and make them look good. The trick is to understand what you are doing and have a few hacks up your sleeve to help. This way, you can save yourself some money and keep your home looking its best.
While small holes can be fixed with a putty knife and joint compound, larger ones require a patch. If you have a hole that is two to six inches in size, use a stud finder to locate the studs on either side. You will then cut a square out of the wall straddling those studs with a drywall jab saw. Be sure to cut straight across and not angularly.
You can then cut a piece of drywall to fit the hole and screw it in place. To secure the patch, you can use a piece of wood as a brace behind it. This will strengthen the patch and help prevent a future hole from developing in the same spot.
If you do not want to do this, you can apply a piece of mesh tape to the back of the patch. This will keep the drywall from cracking, and will allow it to be sanded down to create a smooth surface. Once the patch is sanded down and smooth, you can paint over it.
As homes settle, the inside corners of drywall can become cracked or wavy. While this is normal, it can be unsightly and could even provide a hiding place for pests.
To repair this, you will need to remove the corner bead from the top and bottom of the damaged area. Use a utility knife to cut away the bead, being careful not to damage the underlying drywall.
Once the corner bead is removed, you can apply a thin coat of joint compound to the surface. This will cover the old seam and help to hide it from view. Wait for it to dry, and then sand it down with a fine grit sanding sponge.