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How to Patch Drywall

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1
How to Fix Small Drywall Damage
A person removing a nail from a wall.

Most drywall damage consists of dents, nail and screw holes, cracks and popped nail heads. This type of damage is minor and can be fixed quickly and easily.  


How to repair drywall dents and tiny holes:

 

  • Fill dents and tiny holes with lightweight spackle using your finger or a putty knife.  
  • Make sure the spackle completely fills the dent or hole and is level with the rest of the undamaged wall. 
  • Allow the spackle to dry for 15 to 30 minutes or the time recommended by the manufacturer. 
  • Once dry, use a fine-grit sandpaper to sand the area smooth.  
  • Brush away any debris and touch up the paint. 


How to repair drywall cracks:

 

  • Widen the crack with a utility knife and brush away dust.  
  • Fill the widened crack with lightweight spackle using a putty knife. 
  • Apply a thin coat of spackle over the entire area. Smooth it with a putty knife. 
  • Allow the spackle to dry for 15 to 30 minutes or the time recommended by the manufacturer. 
  • Once dry, sand the area smooth.  
  • Brush away any debris and touch up the paint.  
  • If the crack is wider than 1/2-inch, cover it with self-adhesive fiberglass drywall tape
  • Use a putty knife to spread joint compound over the drywall tape.  
  • Allow the joint compound to dry thoroughly as recommended by the manufacturer, then sand it smooth. 
  • If needed, apply another thin layer of joint compound and sand it again when dry.  
  • Touch up the wall paint. 


How to repair popped nail heads:

 

  • If you notice a popped nail head, the nail has come loose from the wall stud. Reattach the drywall to the wall stud using a drywall screw.  
  • Drive the drywall screw into the wall about 1 to 2 inches above the popped nail head. Sink the screw head just below the drywall’s surface. 
  • Hammer the popped nail head back into the wall, being careful not to damage more drywall with the hammer. 
  • Cover the sunken screw and the nail head with spackle.  
  • Allow the spackle to dry, then sand it smooth.  
  • Touch up the wall paint. 
2
How to Fix Small Holes
A person applying joint compound to a wall.

For holes that are larger than your typical nail hole, you may need to know how to patch drywall with a drywall repair kit. Most drywall repair kits include the drywall tools you need and a 4-inch by 4-inch adhesive drywall patch, although you can purchase larger patches separately. Make sure the hole you need to repair is small enough for these patches to cover before using one of these kits. 


Here’s how to fix a hole in the wall if it’s smaller than 4 inches across:

  

  • Cover the hole with the self-adhesive mesh patch.  
  • Use a putty knife to spread the spackle or lightweight joint compound included in the kit over the patched hole. Spread it generously in a crisscross pattern, feathering the edges so it better blends into the wall. 
  • Allow the joint compound to dry for as long as the manufacturer recommends. This can be up to 24 hours.  
  • Apply a second coat of joint compound if needed to thoroughly fill and cover the area. 
  • Once dry, sand the area smooth. 
  • Touch up the wall paint.  


Tip: If it’s been a while since the wall was last painted, you may need to repaint the entire wall, not just the patched area, to ensure the color matches. 

3
How to Fix Large Holes
A person using a carpenter's square to measure a large hole in the wall.

Typically, a hole larger than 4 inches across needs to be patched with a new piece of drywall. Since you’ll have to cut into the wall in this process, make sure you know where your electrical wires and utilities are beforehand. Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs, where most wires should be attached. 


The below steps cover how to fix a hole in the wall that is larger than 4 inches across. 

4
Cut Out the Damaged Area
A person cutting around a hole in drywall with a drywall saw.
  • Using a carpenter’s square and a pencil or marker, draw a line at least an inch or more above and below the damaged area. 
  • Use a stud finder to find the nearest stud on either side of the hole and mark those.  
  • Use a drywall saw to cut along the lines you just drew until you reach the wall studs.  
  • When you reach a stud, measure and mark 3/4 of an inch farther in, which will be the center of the stud. Score these lines with a utility knife. 
  • The edge of the patch should be directly over the stud so both the existing drywall and patch have support.  
  • Continue cutting along the lines carefully with the utility knife, making several passes with each cut slightly deeper than the previous cut.  
  • Remove the damaged piece of drywall. 


Safety Tip: Always cut away from your body. 

5
Cut and Install the Support
A person installing a wood support behind an opening in drywall.
  • Cut a 1 x 3-inch piece of scrap lumber or 3/4-inch piece of plywood approximately 2 to 4 inches longer than the height of the patch.  
  • Screw these supports vertically behind the opening using drywall screws. This will help keep the patch from cracking.  
  • Sink the heads of the screws slightly below the surface of the drywall. 
6
Cut the Drywall Patch
A person fitting a drywall patch into a wall.
  • Create a patch from a 2 x 2-inch piece of drywall. Trace the piece of drywall you removed to ensure the patch is the same size. 
  • Cut the patch using a utility knife and carpenter's square. 
  • Test fit the patch in the wall opening to ensure it’s a good fit. It should be secure but not too snug that you have to force it in the opening. 
7
Install the Drywall Patch
A person drilling a drywall screw into a drywall patch in the wall.
  • To install the drywall patch, position the drywall screws at least an inch from the edges to avoid splitting or crumbling the drywall.  
  • Use a drill to secure the patch to the support and wall studs, sinking the screws slightly below the surface of the drywall. 
8
Tape and Seal the Drywall Patch
A person sealing drywall patch seams with drywall joint tape.
  • Run strips of self-adhesive fiberglass drywall tape around the edges of the patch, centering the tape on the seams.  
  • Use a 6-inch drywall knife to spread drywall joint compound across the patch and tape to create a smooth, flat surface.  
  • Let the compound dry overnight, then sand until smooth. 
  • Repeat with a second coat.  
  • For a very smooth drywall hole repair, spread a third coat with a 12-inch drywall taping knife and let dry overnight before sanding.  
  • Wipe the patched area with a tack cloth before painting the wall. 

Patching drywall is an essential skill whether you’re a renter or a homeowner. Knowing how to patch drywall damage, whether big or small, means you can make inexpensive repairs yourself, rather than hiring a professional. Need help identifying a tool or material for drywall repair? Find products fast with image search in The Home Depot Mobile App. Snap a picture of an item you like, and we'll show you similar products.