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Patching Large Holes in Wallboard



Traditional plastering was a messy, high-skilled job that required the house to dry out for weeks before 
painting. Then along came drywall, a thin manufactured sheet of gypsum sandwiched between two layers 
of paper.


Although drywall sheets are notoriously vulnerable to breakage and crumbling, they are largely out of 
harm’s way once you nail or screw them to studs and joists. The chalky material will get dinged 
with exposure.  Repairing drywall is a fairly easy task with the right compound and tools.


Fill small dents with lightweight drywall compound, then sand before repainting. Repairing larger problem areas 
involves cutting and fitting a drywall patch. Drywall finishing includes sanding and painting once a smooth 
surface is achieved. Once your drywall is properly patched and finished, review our How to Paint Interior Walls
project guide for tips and techniques for a successful paint project.




Step 1: Outline the damaged area with a carpenter's square

Step 1: Outline the damaged area with a carpenter's square Using the carpenter square and a pencil or marker,  draw a line at least an inch or more above and below the damaged area.  Then draw lines along the left and right sides to center over the studs on either side of the hole.

Step 2: Cut out the sides with a keyhole saw or utility knife

Step 2: Cut out the sides When the saw blade or utility knife runs into the stud, make a mark and measure over the stud 3⁄4 inch. This is the center of the stud.  Be sure to cut away from your body; do not cut towards yourself.  The edge of the patch should be directly over the stud so both the existing drywall and the patch will have support. Cut along the line with a utility knife using several passes with each cut slightly deeper than the previous one. Remove the damaged piece of drywall.  

Step 3: Cut the support and install in the wall

Step 3: Cut the supports and then the patch Cut a 1×3 piece of scrap lumber or 3⁄4-inch plywood scraps approximately 2 to 4 inches longer than the height of the patch. Screw these supports vertically behind the opening to keep the patch from cracking. Hold the support in place and secure it with drywall screws. Avoid driving the screws through the drywall.

Step 4: Cut the patch to size

Step 4: Cut the patch to size Using a scrap of drywall or a new 2 x 2 piece of drywall, measure the repair area, then cut a piece of wallboard to size using the utility knife and carpenter square.

Step 5: Install the patch with drywall screws

Step 5: Install the patch with drywall screws Position the screws at least an inch from the edges to avoid splitting or crumbling the drywall.

Step 6: Complete the Patch

Step 6: Complete the Patch Run strips of self-adhesive fiberglass drywall tape around the installed patch; center the tape on the seams. Use a 6-inch drywall taping knife to spread drywall joint compound across the patch and tape to create a smooth, flat surface. Let the compound dry overnight, sand, and repeat with a second coat. For the smoothest patch, sand the surface to smooth out any irregularities; then spread a third coat with a 12-inch drywall taping knife. Let dry overnight, sand, wipe with a tack cloth, then paint the area.