Drywall Patching


5 Steps to Successfully Repairing a Hole in the Wall

Drywall patching requires patience and persistence. I am going to break the process down easily so you will be more informed before you start your next dry wall patch.One thing you must consider when working with drywall is the DUST. If you are sensitive to the drywall dust or gypsum you may want to get a particle mask, safety goggles or gloves and wear a long sleeve shirt for protection. Don’t forget to protect any home furnishings that you want to keep dust free, too!

9 Jun 2010

Step 1: prep the hole or area to be patched.

If the hole or area to be patched has loose wall board paper you will need to remove the loose paper and gypsum. Now if the wall board paper wants to continue tearing up the side of the wall, a way to stop this is the take a razor knife and cut back from the loose area about an inch or so. What you are doing is scoring the wall so when you tear of the loose paper it will come to the scored line and not tear further causing a larger area to need patch work. If after you have removed the loose paper and the gypsum board underneath is crumbled and barely hanging to the wall, you need to knock out all the loose gypsum. Loose paper and gypsum will cause the drywall compound to not bond strongly and may create a bubble you will see only after coating with compound. As part of the prep, you may want to square up the hole so you can more easily cut the piece of sheetrock that will fill the void.

OK so the area is prepped and now we will need to move to step 2, which will instruct you on how to properly attach a piece of sheetrock cut to fill the hole in your wall or ceiling.

Step 2: back framing the hole to attach the sheetrock you will cut to fill the void.

Just like with new construction you will need to have wood framing to screw the sheetrock into. To explain, I will use an example patch area of one foot by one foot. You will need to cut a 2×4 into two 16″ lengths. You will need to gather a cordless or electric drill and about a dozen 1¼ ” wood screws. Take one of the 2×4’s you have cut and slide it in the hole and behind the existing sheetrock, along one side of the hole. The reason the 2×4 is longer (16″) than the 12″ hole is because we will extend it a couple of inches beyond the top and bottom. So now you have a 2×4 inside the wall on one side, the 2×4 needs to be laying flat against the inside of the wall, it will not be turned so the 4″ width of the 2×4 is flat against the inside, this will give us a larger surface for attachment as apposed to the standard way of framing which would be with the 2″ width facing the sheetrock. You will want to eyeball, best as possible the 2×4 and split the difference of the board width between the existing sheetrock and where you will attach the piece of sheetrock you will cut for the patch. Now that the 2×4 is held in the correct position you will need to screw the 2×4 into the existing drywall by holding tightly to the board and screwing into it through the face of the existing sheetrock. You will put two screws along the edge and one on the top and bottom of the existing sheetrock to strongly secure the 2×4 to accept piece of sheetrock you will cut. Once you have completed one side, repeat the same procedure on the other side. So when you have finished back framing you now have a strong frame to attach the patch piece of sheetrock. * Note – if you have a hole to patch where there are framing, electric or mechanical issues in the way that keep you from sliding the 2×4 behind the wall to screw down the side, you can screw in the top and bottom of the 2×4 and this will be sufficient. You may also consider attaching the 2×4 back framing across the top and bottom of the hole as apposed to attaching the 2×4’s on the sides, just use the same instructions of attachment for the sides or top and bottom.

Now that the prep and framing are complete next we will cut a piece of sheetrock to insert into the framed hole in step 3.

Step 3: take a measurement of the hole and cut a piece of sheetrock to fit and secure it.

It does not have to fit super tight but it will need to fit and be screwed to the back framing you installed. You should put 2-3 screws down each side attaching the piece of sheetrock you cut to the framing. * Note- all the screws will need to be “set” below the surface of the sheetrock but not deep enough that the screw head tears the paper face on the sheetrock, unset screws will show and interfere with the next step. **Note sheetrock comes in two thicknesses for most residential construction -1/2″ and 5/8″. ½” is normally on the interior walls/ceilings and 5/8″ is used on underside of stairs and in the garage.

Well you’re making progress and you have filled the void with sheetrock, now we will move on to the coating or finishing phase of the dry wall compound (mud) explained in step 4.

Step 4: coating the patch with drywall compound (mud).

As I was saying in step 3 the piece of sheetrock you cut to fill the hole does not have to fit super tight. If the sheetrock you cut has a gap around the border/joint of it and where it meets the existing wall board, you should pre fill the area before applying the drywall tape. So just take a little compound and fill in the edges and smooth the excess flat wit the wall, allow to dry. Next is to apply the drywall tape so that after we are all finished there will not be a crack around the joint of the patched hole. For patch work I like to use a “mesh” or “fiber” tape, it provides a stronger hold and the mesh tape is much more forgiving than regular drywall tape, in the since you do not have to pre mud the wall to adhere the tape. The mash tape has a sticky backing, so all you do is cut the mesh tape to the length you need, stick it on the wall with the middle of the mesh tape running right in line with the joint or crack. The mesh tape should always run past the joint at least an inch. Repeat this process for all four sides of the patch. Next apply a coat of compound around the perimeter of the patch, over the mesh tape. The mesh will be slightly visible after only one coat. * Note – If you apply to much compound (mud) you will have a hump in the surface. Allow this coat to dry, sand lightly, mostly to knock of any knife edges that dried in the compound and could cause the next coat to build up to much. You do not want to try and mud the patch in just 1 coat, it is better to apply a moderate/thin coat allow to dry, sand and coat again. After all the coats (at least two) have dried and you are satisfied that the surface is coated evenly, sand the mud to even the surface. * Note – a less than perfect coating job can be smoothed out with sanding. Sanding along the outside edge of the mud too, will blend the patched area better into the existing surface. A really neat trick is after you have sanded the patch, take a wet sponge or rag and “wash” the outside mud of the patch blending it even better into the existing surface, this trick will help you avoid seeing a mud line around the patch when it is completed. If your home has a smooth texture, this is the last step, your ready to paint. If you do not have a smooth texture you will need to read on.

Only one more step and the drywall part of your patch will be complete, texture. We will discuss various textures and how to apply the in step 5.

Step 5: there are many textures and you must first know how to identify your existing texture before going forward.

Older homes may have a swirl, crows foot, hand or smooth texture. Newer homes for the most part use smooth, orange peel, knockdown and hand textures. For a crows foot you will need a crows foot or stomp texture brush. For swirl texture you may have to consult a dry wall supplier store for the correct texture brush or experiment with a few different brushes. For a hand texture you can use a dry wall knife or trowel. All of the above mentioned textures require a tool or brush to apply drywall compound to achieve the texture. The next two textures can be purchased in a spray can, orange peel and knock down. * Note – with all textures it is good to get an old piece of plywood or cardboard and experiment first to find the right amount of pressure, thickness of mud, technique and set up time to create the right look to best conceal that a repair was ever made. As always if you texture the wall and are not happy with the results you can was the texture of immediately with a wet sponge of rag, allow to dry and try texturing again or sand of a bad texture if you are not happy with it after it has been allowed to dry. * Note – Knockdown texture size can be manipulated by letting the sprayed on texture set up or dry for less or more time depending on the desired look.

We have discussed the 5 steps needed to professionally repair a drywall patch. 1) properly prep the area to be patched. 2) back frame the opening. 3) size and cut the sheetrock to fill the opening. 4) apply mesh tape and mud to smooth the surface. 5) select and apply appropriate texture.

So go out and “get your drywall on”. You can check out my article on painting walls if you need assistance with the painting. Feel free to leave a comment about any other subject you would like me to write on pertaining to drywall. Please check out our website, dennardbloss.com, it is all about our construction finishes.

Shelby Dennard is a third generation Drywall/Paint Contractor operating in the Pikes Peak Region and all along the Front Range of Colorado doing business as Dennard Bloss, Inc. for 16+ years. He has completed projects ranging from tract home developments, remodel, million dollar homes, custom multi-million dollar homes that have been featured in magazines and commercial construction. He is currently pursuing government contracts and writing informative how-to articles drawing from his professional experience as a drywall/painting professional. Please visit the homepage on his website and read the information about ‘The 9 most important thing to consider when hiring a Contractor’ at http://dennardbloss.com/.

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Shelby Dennard