Drywall Repair: How to Patch Holes and Dents in Drywall

by Karl Crowder

Done properly, drywall repairs are permanent and unnoticeable. Some repairs are simple, needing just two thin coats of patching compound. Others require additional framing and coats of compound.

Drywall repair kits are a practical choice for holes four to eight inches across. They come with strong, self-adhesive metal and fiberglass repair panels.

Starting Your Drywall Repair

All repairs start by removing loose material and cleaning up the damaged area. Apply primer - oil or acrylic - around the area needing repair. This helps regular joint compound (often called mud) to adhere.

If the surface is dirty, clean with a degreaser or trisodium phosphate (TSP). TSP is especially good at cleaning greasy areas you might find in a kitchen.

From there, do-it-yourselfers have choices, depending on the size of the hole. Just remember, all patches require proper drywall finishing techniques for a professional, invisible look. Always use thin coats of compound, feathering the edges to avoid excessive sanding.

Repairing Small Holes

For small holes, the best approach starts with filling the hole (or dent) with joint compound. Holes about 1/2 inch across probably won't need any mesh. Any larger, and you should consider adding mesh to keep the compound from shrinking and cracking.

Fiberglass mesh tape should be used on any hole larger that 1/2 inch up to 2 inches across.

Repairing Holes Under 12 Inches

If you have a larger hole, you will need a metal drywall repair panel. These self adhesive metal panels are great for holes under 12 inches.

After you cover the hole with the repair panel, apply joint compound. Use a four to six-inch putty knife to spread and smooth the compound over the tape. Use a smooth and steady motion to pull the blade. The wider the blade, the smoother-looking the result will be.

Add another layer of joint compound over top. Let the area dry, then sand lightly, feathering the edges of the dried joint compound so they are flat with the wall. Add more layers of joint compound until the hole is level with the surface around it and no signs of the mesh drywall tape can be seen.

For the best results, always let the compound dry, then sand between coats. Professional drywall hangers use a wider drywall knife for each layer.

Whatever the hole size, some compound will end up on either side of it. As you pull the putty knife across, the mud tends to pull away from the opposite side of the hole. Don't try to work too quickly. Be patient.

It usually takes about three times for a really smooth finish. Don't be too obsessed with perfection at this point because sanding will make everything look much better. Before sanding though, ensure the repair is completely dry.

Repairing Holes Larger than 12 Inches

Once a hole is around 12 inches across, it requires more than a drywall kit. The plaster must be supported or the repair will crack and sag.

The best method is to add some kind of backing. This often involves enlarging the hole so lumber or plywood can be inserted, to which a new section of drywall can be attached.

Another option is to use repair clips. Repair clips are held in place by screws and have attachment points for a piece of drywall cut to fit the patch.

Best results involve using at least four clips. Once the patch is in place, you use compound to fill any large gaps and then apply fiber mesh tape and another coat of compound to sandwich the mesh tape securely.

You will probably need three coats of drywall compound to achieve a truly professional look. Sanding between coats helps to achieve professional results as well.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Many more detailed drywall repair articles by Karl Crowder can be found at www.House-Painting-Info.com

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