4 steps for patching drywall

Got dings, dents or even holes in your drywall? The fix is easier than you think with four fairly simple steps.

4 steps for patching drywall

1. Patch it up

  • The easiest way to patch those doorknob holes and other holes up to 13 centimetres (five inches) in diameter is with a repair kit from a local hardware store or home centre. A typical kit contains spackling and a stick-on patch of either thin perforated metal or fibreglass mesh.
  • Some kits even supply sandpaper and a putty knife. The kits come in different sizes; get a patch that's the size you need.
  • Brush or cut away loose paper and crumbling gypsum. Wipe the area with a damp rag to remove any dust or dirt. Let the wall dry.
  • Trim the patch, if necessary. Both metal and mesh patches can be cut with scissors. Remove the backing from the patch, centre it over the hole, and stick it on the wall. Press around the edges so that the patch sticks well.
  • Apply spackling over the patch with a drywall knife, smoothing it out beyond the edges. After the spackling dries, sand and apply a second coat.
  • Finally, apply a third coat to create a smooth wide patch that slopes more gently and is less noticeable.

2. Settle down

  • You filled that crack and now, two months later, it's back. That's usually because of settling, a common problem in new houses, especially around the corners of windows and doorways.
  • The house eventually settles, but until it does, the trick is to fill those small reappearing cracks with a paintable caulk, which is more flexible than spackling.
  • Another trick: Put on a latex glove and wipe the caulk smooth with your finger. For larger cracks, use flexible ("elastomeric") spackling and apply it with a drywall knife.
  • The last stage of any wall repair is to sand the repaired area, and then smooth and paint it. But sanding even a small repair creates copious amounts of fine white dust that's guaranteed to be tracked all over the house. To keep the mess to a minimum, wipe the compound with a damp sponge. It will smooth the surface as well as sandpaper and leave you with much less mess to clean up.

3. Fix blisters

  • If a blister forms in the seam tape, the person who put up the wallboard probably didn't put enough joint compound on the seam. To fix the problem, simply cut out the blistered area with a sharp utility knife; then spackle over the damage. Smooth and touch up the paint.

4. Feel cornered

  • Outward-projecting wallboard corners are disasters waiting to happen — just waiting to be bashed by a laundry basket, a child's toy or a piece of furniture you're moving. Fortunately, the repair is easy.
  • Outside corners are protected by a metal piece, called a corner bead; it wraps around the corner, is nailed to the wallboard, and is then covered with joint compound. If a corner bead is bent, tap it gently back into shape with a hammer and file any sharp edges smooth.
  • Since the existing corner bead will provide backing for any repair you make, this is one case where you can fill gaps with quick-setting joint compound or spackling. Fill the damaged area and smooth it with a drywall knife.
  • After the repair dries, sand or sponge smooth; then prime and paint.
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