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, once you nail or screw them fast to studs and joists, they are largely out of harm’s way. However, the chalky material will get dinged with exposure.
Fill small dents with lightweight drywall compound, then sand before repainting. Repairing larger problem areas involves cutting and fitting a drywall patch.
Outline the damaged area with a carpenter's square.
The top and bottom of the rectangle should be an inch or so outside the damaged area. The sides should be centered over the studs on both sides of the hole.
Cut out the sides.
When the saw blade runs into the studs, make a mark and measure over the stud 3⁄4 inch. This is the center of the stud, and the edge of the patch should be directly over it so both the existing drywall and the patch will have support. Cut along the line with a utility knife using several cuts, each one slightly deeper than the previous one.
Cut the supports, then the patch.
Cut 1×3 or 3⁄4-inch plywood scraps 2 to 4 inches larger than the patch is high. 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.
Cut the patch to size.
Make your repair easier by stopping by The Home Depot and picking up a 2 x 2 piece of drywall. Measure the repair area, then cut a piece of wallboard to size using a utility knife.
Install the patch with 1 1/4-inch drywall screws.
Position the screws as far as possible from the edges to avoid splitting or crumbling the drywall.
Complete the Patch.
Run strips of self-adhesive fiberglass drywall tape around the installed patch, centering the tape on the seam. Then 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 apply 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.
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