Removing a large section or entire sheet of drywall and replacing it is a common task that can be handled by a homeowner with basic experience using hand tools. Of course, when a professional-quality repair is essential, a contractor should be hired. The difference between a job that looks just OK and one that is invisible once the wall is painted is the years of experience a drywall finisher has. A skilled handyman can be a good choice for the project too. In most cases, an experienced workman will need just an hour or two to remove the damaged drywall, replace it and apply the first layer of joint compound. The compound must be sanded and a second and third layer of “mud” must be applied on successive days. On the fourth day, the final layer of drywall compound can be sanded to complete the project before the priming and painting begins. It should be noted here that the sanding process is a very messy business as the dust can travel far and wide if not contained
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- Supplies You Will Need
- Patching a Medium to Large Drywall Hole
- Step 6: Sand and Paint
- Patching Small Holes in Drywall
- Drywall patch (choose the same thickness for the patch as the drywall you’ll be patching)
- Drywall paint
- Drywall saw
- Drywall screen (Window screen can also work)
- Joint compound
- Masking tape
- Paint and paintbrush
- Small Trowel
- Wood Brace
Step 1: Cut Drywall Patch
Cut out a patch of drywall larger than the hole you will be covering. Trace the shape of the patch over the drywall and make a note to yourself of which side is up for the patch. This will make Step 4 easier. Look to see if there are any wires or pipes behind the hole and take care to avoid cutting them in the following steps. Put the patch aside for a moment.
Step 2: Prepare the Area
Starting from the hole in the drywall, use your drywall saw to cut a line from the hole toward each corner of the shape you traced in Step 1. Unless it’s a very large hole, you will most likely have four lines to cut. If it’s a very large hole, you may want to cut a line to each corner, and then an extra line in the middle of each side. After you’ve made the cuts, score the outline of the square or rectangle with your drywall saw. You don’t need to cut completely through, unless that’s easier for you. When the outline has been scored, snap the drywall back and use your saw to remove any pieces that don’t come off easily. You should now have a clean square or rectangle.
Step 3: Attach Bracing
For medium to large drywall holes, it is strongly considered that you add a wooden brace before patching the hole. Cut a 1 x 3 inch piece of wood 6 inches longer than the hole. Cover the top and bottom of one side of the brace with a strong adhesive and carefully maneuver the piece of wood into the drywall hole. With the brace firmly held in place against the wall, use screws to attach the brace to the wall with a screw at the top of the hole and one at the base of it. Take care to drive the screws in so that they are flush with the wall.
Step 4: Patch the Drywall
With the patch you cut in Step 1, orient it so that it is even with the hole you traced. It should fit like the missing piece of a puzzle. With the same-size screws used in Step 3, attach the drywall patch to the brace, still taking care to drive the screws in flush with the patch.
Step 5: Cover the Patch
Using the trowel, add a thin layer of joint compound over the entire area you just repaired. Be sure to cover the screws and seams of the patch. I’ve found it’s better to cover a wide area because it makes it easier to spread the joint compound for a seamless repair. For an extra smooth finish, cut a piece of drywall screen a little larger than size of the hole and press it gently— yet firmly— to the joint compound. Cover the screen with another layer of joint compound and smooth out the edges. It’s easier if you start from the center of the screen and work your way to the outside.
Let that dry for one day and then go over it with another thin coat, extending just past the edges of your work from the previous day. Let that dry completely.
Step 6: Sand and Paint
With a very fine grain of sandpaper, smooth the joint compound, making sure you don’t uncover the screen. Dust off the area and add your first layer of paint. Allow it to dry before adding the second layer.
Patching Small Holes in Drywall
If you have a smaller hole caused by a doorknob or rogue golf ball— hey, it happens!— you can pick up a drywall patch kit at your local home improvement store. The kit will include:
- Self-adhesive drywall screen
- Joint compound
- A trowel, or compound applicator,
- Fine sanding pads
Attach the drywall screen to the wall over the hole. Press the edges down to make sure it’s secure. Next, start adding a thin layer of joint compound over the screen and past the edges of it. For smaller projects like this, it helps to crisscross the joint compound instead of starting from the center and working your way out, as you would for medium sized holes. Let the first layer dry and add a second layer if necessary. Sand it down with the sanding pads before dusting off the patched wall and painting.
Drywall Repair Tips and Resources
In this house repair guide, we’ll cover all you need to know about how to repair a large hole or sheet of drywall, also often called sheetrock. This includes what you can expect in terms of price if you receive a drywall repair estimate from a handyman or contractor. You’ll also learn the tools and tips you’ll need for do it yourself drywall repair. For a DIY job, check out the links below that will give you additional information for preparing for drywall replacement and getting the job done.
These insights will allow you to decide if the drywall repair is a DIY job you’re prepared to do. or if you would be better served calling a handyman or drywall contractor.
- Removing damaged drywall requires locating the studs the drywall is attached to using an electronic stud finder. There is also the old fashioned method of tapping the wall to try and find studs but that method presents more problems than it is worth
- The drywall can be removed by making small holes in it and using the claws of a hammer to pull it off of the studs.
- Wiring or plumbing behind the drywall can be damaged, so remove pieces or sheets of drywall with caution.
- Hanging drywall (fastening it to the studs) is relatively easy. Finishing it (taping it, applying joint compound and sanding) so that seams are invisible takes experience.
- Once the studs are located, the drywall must be cut to leave ¾-inch to one inch of stud exposed onto which the new drywall can be attached.
- When cutting the replacement piece of drywall, it can be 1/16th to 1/8th inch short for an easier fit. The gap will be filled by joint compound.
- ALL drywall seams MUST be on studs for support. That’s one reason it’s often easier to replace an entire sheet of drywall. Sheets of drywall cost less than $18, so using an entire sheet is cost effective.
- If the repair is in a highly visible spot, choosing the DIY route for a first-time repair might not be the best idea. “The biggest problem with DIY is making the fix invisible” even with hours of sanding
Drywall Repair Costs
As with most home repair estimates, your cost will include materials and tools. If you hire a pro, then his time will be factored in too.
Additionally, the more complex the job is, the more it will cost. For example, if the drywall must be cut to accommodate several outlets, a fireplace mantel, cabinets, or similar obstacles, the cost will be higher.
Drywall repair on popcorn ceilings or high on tall walls, when scaffolding or ladders must be used, cost more than repairs to walls.
DIY Drywall Repair: Expect to pay $35 to $75 for the materials for replacing a single sheet of drywall. The materials list includes:
- One 4’x8’ sheet of drywall
- Seam tape
- Joint compound (“mud”)
- Drywall screws
- A sanding block
- Drywall sandpaper
A joint compound trowel will cost $18 to $35 depending on its quality. Other tools needed are a drill/driver for installing the screws along with a hammer and utility knife for removing old drywall.
Professional Drywall Repair: When an entire home is being drywalled, the job is estimated by the square foot. However, repairs are much more expensive because they are more time-consuming per square foot. If a drywall contractor is going to come to your home to replace just a single sheet, he or she will likely want a minimum$250 to $350. Keep in mind that the job will take four separate days, each time travelling to the job, though less than a half hour on the days that sanding is done. A handyman will likely do the job for the cost of time and materials, and you should save 15% to 30% on the job. The quality of the finished look might suffer if the job is done by a handyman rather than someone who finishes drywall every day, so ask about his experience with finishing drywall before making the hire.
How to Save Money on Drywall Repair
If doing the job yourself, the best way to cut costs is to borrow tools you don’t own – a trowel, drill/driver, ladder and hand tools – from friends. They can also be rented for less than the cost of purchasing them, in most cases.
If you hire a professional for the work, you can save money by tearing out the old drywall and cleaning up the dust and other mess yourself. If you can hang drywall, but want a pro to finish it, that will save you money too.