How to Repair Holes in Drywall

Drywall holes: Every home will eventually get them, whether big or small. They may appear when you remove wall decor or move furniture. Thankfully, fixing holes in drywall is a straightforward and cheap DIY repair.

This handy skill can save you money on contractors and get you the maximum-security deposit after moving out of a rental. And best of all, this is a great project for beginners. So, without further delay, let’s show you how this DIY project is done.

Fixing Small Nail Holes in Drywall

For this project, you’ll need a few basic supplies usually found in a drywall patch kit.

  • Color-matched paint for the wall. 
  • Utility knife
  • Spackle
  • Sandpaper
  • Microfiber cloth or sponge
  • Paintbrush
  • Primer (Kilz is an excellent brand)
  • Protective eyewear and a dust mask

Small nail holes are quick and easy to fix. First, lightly sand the area around the nail hole. This removes any dirt or debris that can make the paint not adhere well. Then, wipe the area clean with a microfiber cloth.

Then, apply a thin layer of spackle to the hole and lightly spread it as you would with peanut butter on toast. 

Make sure that the hole is completely filled. There will be excess spackle, which you can gently scrape off using the long, flat side of the utility knife. Don’t worry if the spackle leaves bumps — you’ll take care of that in a bit.

Next, wait 1-2 hours. This can be your lunch break or time to catch up on an old tv series that you love. Then, come back to your spackled wall and sand the area down flat with sandpaper. Wipe the area clean once more with the microfiber cloth. Then, apply primer to the area and let it dry. After the area is dry, apply the color-matched paint to the area. Voila! You’re done!

Pro tip: Color matching can be touch and go sometimes. For the best results, test a minor area, like a small spot next to the bottom of a door or near a baseboard. Wait for it to dry to ensure both the color and texture blend well. This will ensure that the paint will mix with whatever area you need to fix.

Fixing Minor Holes in The Wall

So what happens when the hole is not big but not large either? Those awkward quarter-sized dents and nail pops are often a grey area where DIYers wonder if you should still use spackle or if you need to bring in drywall joint compound. Well, according to the experts, either can work, but you’ll need to pay attention to drying times and shrinkage.

  • NOTE: If there is a dent or hole larger than a quarter, proceed to the next section in this blog. (Basically, anything that spackle will just fall through needs more support.)

To fix a small dent around 1/2 inch or a hole slightly larger than a nail, use the same supplies as you would for the nail hole but apply more spackle or drywall joint compound. If necessary, use drywall tape for some extra support.

You may need more than one round of either filler to account for shrinkage, which is more noticeable as you try to cover more ground. This means more shows, or possibly a longer movie series.

Spackle dries within 2 hours, while drywall joint compound can take up to 24 hours to fully dry. Joint compound is stronger than spackle, but many contractors find just as satisfactory results using spackle for small to moderate holes. The choice is yours!

Fixing Big Holes

Ok. So maybe you tried to do a handstand and accidentally kicked the wall in. Or, your kids decided it was a good idea to play indoor hockey on a snow day. You want your security deposit back, but looking at that gaping hole is starting to make you lose hope.

Take a deep breath. You can do this. You’ll need more supplies, but you can fix this easily for under $200. Let’s go:

Gather all the aforementioned supplies plus drywall joint compound, drill with a screwdriver bit, four drywall screws, drywall or mesh tape, a drywall saw, and a piece of drywall, and get to the project site.

Step 1: Cut a square around the hole. All holes are uneven. Since you will be patching this with a piece of drywall, cut a square the size of the drywall patch you will use.

Step 2: Cut a piece of drywall that is the exact same size as the square you cut in the wall. Using the outline of what you just cut out will give you a perfect match.

Step 3: Install two plywood strips behind the wall on the top and bottom of the square hole, secured with screws outside each corner.

Step 4: Place the piece of drywall on top of the anchored plywood strips and screw it into them.

Step 5: Tape the seams around the drywall patch with drywall tape to make the surface of the wall flat.

Step 6: With the putty knife, apply drywall joint compound over the seams.

Step 7: Wait for the layer of joint compound to dry, then see if there needs to be any reapplications. If so, repeat the process. When everything is covered fully, sand down the drywall surface.

Step 8: Wipe the area clean and apply primer.

Step 9: After the primer is dry, paint the surface with color-matched paint.

All there is left to do is step back and admire the results! What was once a damaged area looks good as new. For more DIY and real estate tips, check out the Marketplace Homes blog!

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