How to Repair Drywall in 2022 (2 Things Not to Do)

Updated 3/8/2023

Image from Canva

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Is it still there?

You know, that hole in your wall from that, ahem, accident?

How about that gouge in the ceiling from a pool cue stick? Strange. Still hasn’t gone away on its own? (sarcasm)

Let’s not forget the “Grand Canyon” of a hole in the wall right where the door knob smashes every time you open the door a bit too far.

Are you ready to see the holes go away? They won’t go away on their own. 

You don’t need to hire a professional to take care of it. You can repair those holes yourself.

I’ll teach you how to repair drywall and 2 things not to do, taking you from beginner to pro.

After this, you’ll never need to hire anyone to do your repairs again and save a ton of money.

Let’s Begin!

List of Materials for Drywall Repairs

* Depends on Repair

  • 150 & 220 Grit Sandpaper
  • Drywall screws *
  • Primer
  • Lightweight Spackle
  • Joint Compound (for larger repairs)
  • Easy Sand 20 *
  • Drywall Mesh Tape *
  • Drywall Repair Patches *
  • Corner Bead *
  • 5-Gal Paint Stirring Sticks or Furring Strip *
  • Gardz Sealer *
  • Can of Spray Foam Insulation *
  • Piece of Drywall *

List of Tools for Drywall Repairs

* Depends on Repair

  • Pencil
  • Screw Gun *
  • Tape Measure *
  • Straight Edge (level or ruler) *
  • Spackle Knife
  • Pliers
  • Utility Knife
  • Drywall Hole Saw *
  • Hack Saw *
  • Stud Finder (also locates electric) *
  • Dust Mask

Identify the Drywall Repair

Drywall repairs come in all shapes and sizes.

You need to identify what you’re dealing with before you learn how to repair drywall.

Drywall comes in different thicknesses ranging from ¼ inch to ⅝ inch. Measure the thickness of your drywall and purchase the necessary piece for repairs.

The Types of Drywall Repairs

  • Small Hole

Removing thumb tack and small nails are examples of small hole repairs.

  • Nail Pops

Nail pops occur when a nail that fastens the drywall to a stud becomes loose and backs out through the wall.

  • Medium Holes

Most range from a Quarter to a Tennis Ball size (less than 6 inches).

  • Large Holes

Over 6 inches to several feet.

  • Corner Repairs

Metal or plastic “corner beads” movement cracks the drywall.

  • Stress Cracks

Stress cracks are splits in drywall or plaster due to house settling and vibrations. Cracks mostly show up under windows and above doorways.

Pro Tip: Wear a dust mask while sanding patches

How to Repair Drywall: Small Holes

Image from Canva

Small holes are the most straightforward drywall repairs; they require minimal skills and take less than 30 minutes.

  1. Use a spackle knife to spread a thin layer of lightweight spackle over the small hole (no thicker than a piece of paper).
  2. Allow the spackle to dry (see the directions on the label) and lightly sand the spot with 220 grit sandpaper.
  3. Be sure to prime the spot before applying wall paint.

Pro Tip: Be sure to purchase a “pink” colored lightweight spackle. It goes on pink but turns white when dry.

Image from Canva

How to Repair Drywall Nail Pops

Nail Pops occur when the nail used to fasten the drywall to the stud becomes loose over time, backs out of the stud, and “pops” through the wall’s surface.

Image from Canva

I promised to show you how to repair drywall in 2022 + 2 things not to do. The #1 thing not to do is bang the nail pop back into the wall!!

  1. Use the spackle knife’s edge to lift the head of the nail, grab it with a pair of pliers, and remove it.
  2. Insert a drywall screw 1-inch directly above the nail pop to firm up the drywall. Counter sink the head of the screw slightly.
  3. Use a spackle knife to spread a thin layer of lightweight spackle over the nail pop hole and the head of the screw. The spackle should be no thicker than a dime and spread over the spot and 2 inches beyond.
  4. Allow the spackle to completely dry, then sand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Pro Tip: The spackle will form a slight bubble over the nail hole and take longer to dry. Don’t be alarmed if it stays pink past the dry time. Be patient. The hole may need a second coat of spackle.

Image from Canva

How to Repair Medium Holes

The process for repairing medium holes depends on the situation of the damage.

You can use drywall mesh tape to cover holes on the smaller side. If the gap is wider than two rows of tape, you must “fill” the space behind the hole so the spackle can set and dry.

  1. If the hole is less than the width of the mesh tape, then cut a strip about an inch longer than the hole and press it into place. Ensure strands of fiber from the tape are not loose and cut them off if present.
  2. If the hole is wider than the tape, take some old newspaper, crumble it up and stuff it into the hole. The crumbled paper should be wide enough to fill the space from front to back. The area behind the wall and between the studs will be at least 16 inches wide and can’t be filled from side to side with paper.
  3. Use the foam insulation to fill the gap in the hole. It’s not a problem if the foam extends past the hole’s surface. Use a paint stirring stick to scrape off the excess foam; be careful not to “push” on the foam.
  4. Wait for the foam insulation to set, then apply strips of the mesh tape over the hole and cover it with joint compound.
  5. Lightly sand the patch with 150 Grit sandpaper, then apply a second coat of compound and repeat.
  6. Prime the patched area. Be sure to wipe the entire area with a dry rag to remove surrounding dust.

ProTip: Use a flashlight or spotlight to inspect the patches for imperfections.
Hold the light at an angle to the wall; this will let you see the patch better and reveals rough spots that need additional sanding.

Repairing Large Holes in Drywall

More significant repairs will require replacing a section of the drywall and then spackling.

It’s necessary to remove sections of drywall when there’s a plumbing leak or when wiring behind a wall needs repairs. Replacing a section of drywall will make for a better and stronger repair.

Image from Canva

The photo above shows a contractor cutting the drywall to access a plumbing fitting. They cut the section to the middle of the wall stud on either side so that a piece could fit in for the repair.

  1. Use a stud finder to mark the studs on both sides of the repair. Scan the area for electrical wires and check if pipes are behind the wall.
  2. Next, make a straight vertical line up the wall where the studs are marked. The lines should stop close to the top and bottom levels of the hole. Mark two horizontal lines above and below the hole to connect each vertical line to form a square or rectangular shape.
  3. Use the Hole Saw to cut an “X” in the drywall from corner to corner.
  4. “Score” the lines with a utility knife. Use the edge of the level to score straight lines.
  5. Grab the damaged drywall and slowly pull out the scored sections. Now that you can see the studs, cut the drywall to the halfway point on each stud.
  6. Measure and cut a new piece of drywall to fit the space and secure it with screws. Countersink the screws slightly into the wall.
  7. Apply mesh tape to all four sides, and cover with joint compound and sand.

Pro Tip: The repair can be tricky if there’s not enough framing behind the wall to secure the piece of drywall. To make the piece of drywall sturdy, use pieces of furring strips or 5-gallon paint sticks to fasten in the middle of the wall.

In the photo, you can see where a piece of wood was screwed into the wall behind the damaged section, which will keep the drywall in place and makes for a sturdier repair.

Image from Canva

The Second Thing Not To Do on a Drywall Repair

California Drywall Patch

Some painters swear by California-style drywall patches, but I’m not one of them.

If a hole in a wall is large enough to fit a piece of drywall in the space, then it should be secured with screws (like in the previous steps). In my opinion, the repair would be weak and could crack.

The California patch is when you score a one-inch notch on the back side of the drywall repair piece ( one inch larger than the hole) and remove the gypsum on the edges, leaving only the paper remaining on all four sides.

You then place the repair piece into the hole, and the paper edges act as a border to hold it in place.

This video can explain the process. Ultimately the choice is yours.

California patch

YouTube video by

Repairing Drywall Corners

The outside corner of a wall is a magnet for damage and one of the most common repairs.

Plastic or metal “corner beads” are installed to join two corners and secure the ends of the wall.

  1. Cut two notches above and below the damaged corner with the hacksaw. Be sure to cut through the metal.
  2. Use the level and utility knife to cut the drywall vertically on both sides of the notches and remove the damaged piece.
  3. Cut a replacement piece of corner bead and secure it with small brads or screws. Try to be careful not to bend the metal.
  4. Apply mesh tape to both sides of the corner and patch with joint compound.
  5. The repair may need several coats, so apply thin layers.
  6. Sand the patches and repeat the process.
Image from Canva

How to Repair Drywall Cracks

Cracks in drywall are caused by the house settling over time and are usually found under windows and above doorways.

Free Adobe Stock Image

Not every crack needs mesh tape to complete the repair. There are a couple of ways to deal with stress cracks.

  1. Use the spackle knife to scrape around the crack and remove loose drywall.
  2. If the crack is small, use the edge of the spackle knife to “dig out” the gap and make it larger to accept the spackle. Applying spackle on top of the repair does not help fix a crack if the paste can’t get inside.
  3. Apply mesh tape to the crack, spackle, and sand when dry.

Pro Tip: Thin cracks can be repaired with a bead of caulking. Run the caulk over the crack and work it into the gap with your finger using side-to-side motions. Use a damp rag to wipe off the excess caulk. If the crack still has an indentation, then lightly spackle the area.

What if the Wall is Plaster?

You can use lightweight spackle to repair tiny holes in plaster.

Joint compound is for drywall and not intended for repairs on plaster walls.

“Setting-Type” compound should be used on plaster because it’s a stronger application. Joint compound used for plaster repairs will result in the patches failing at some point.

Available at Amazon

Easy Sand 20 is a setting-type compound powder that mixes with water and sets hard in 20 minutes.

Pro Tip: Lightly dampen cracks in plaster before you apply the compound.

Pro Tip Option: A thin coat of Gardz Primer/Sealer is an excellent product that hardens drywall and plaster walls and can be used to strengthen patches.

Available at Amazon

Torn and Ripped Drywall Repairs

Drywall consists of a layer of gypsum between paper backing. When the drywall is torn or ripped, you must prime it before patching.

Gardz Primer is a fantastic product that prepares torn drywall to accept repair compounds.

Want to tackle more projects? How to Prep Walls for Painting in 2022 (+ Pro Tips for DIYers)

Now You Know How to Repair Drywall

Image from Canva

You Did It! By learning how to repair drywall and the 2 things not to do, you’ve become a drywall repair Rock Star.

By following these steps, you can quickly repair drywall damage like a Pro and save buckets of money too!

Way to go!

Let’s fix some more stuff!

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