Fixing drywall holes

Despite best efforts, it is pretty easy to accidently punch a hole in your drywall (and that’s my story, it was an accident, and I’m sticking to it).  There have been times in my life where I didn’t consider it much of a party unless someone punched a hole in the wall.  This week we’ll tackle how to do a little fix up job.

If the hole is smaller than a quarter, you can probably putty over it with a drywall knife.  Special Tip For College Students: If it is just a nail hole, you can do a quick patch with toothpaste…but don’t use the gel kind.  If the hole is larger than a quarter, the process gets a bit more complicated.

Using a square, to keep the lines parallel and straight, draw a square or rectangle around the hole at least 1” larger than the hole itself.  Using a drywall saw that has a pointed tip, cut out the rectangle.  You can also use a retractable knife but do it with several cuts, progressively deeper, rather than a single deep cut.  This will give you a smoother line.  If this larger hole spans a stud, it is probably where two sheets join together so be careful not to disturb the existing wall.

You’ll need a support behind the patch and you can screw a piece of “oneby” (1×2, 1×3, 1×4) that spans the center of the hole and sits behind it, held in place with a couple of drywall screws.  When you put the screws in, put them deeply enough to dimple, but not tear, the paper of the existing wall.

Using the piece you cut out of the wall as a pattern, cut a patch out of spare drywall with a utility knife.  Be sure the patch is the same thickness as the wall itself.  Again, several cuts progressively deeper are better than a single cut. Now screw the patch onto the support brace you just installed.  As before, you can dimple the paper of the patch but don’t push hard enough to tear the paper.

The seam between the wall and the patch will crack unless reinforced, so use some fiberglass drywall tape (it looks like a fine mesh) and put it over the patch with the center of the tape where the patch and wall meet.  If you don’t find the self-sticking tape, you’ll need to run a thin layer of drywall to set the tape in.

To mud over the patch, you’ll want to use setting-type compound.  This is the dry stuff that mixes with water rather than the buckets of premixed drywall compound.  The premixed is too thin and the joint between the pieces will show through.  It also sets up faster than premixed so you can do several coats in a day.

Using a drywall knife, draw a layer of patching compound over the joint.  After it dries, put on a second layer with a 9” drywall knife.  After that second layer has dried, put on a third with a 12” drywall knife.  When this has dried, you’re ready to sand it smooth and either add texture or to paint over it.

Most walls have a light layer of texturing, frequently called knock-down over them.  Essentially, this is a splatter of drywall compound, flattened with a drywall knife before it is completely dry. You can replicate this texture by putting the bristles of a whisk broom in some drywall compound and splatter the patch with the compound in a random pattern.

After an hour or so, run your drywall knife over the splatters lightly to replicate the texture of the rest of the walls.  Now, once the whole kit and caboodle has dried, you’re ready to paint.

I hope this is helpful.  If you have something you’re interested in, drop me a line at  I’m always looking for ideas.