Repairing drywall cracks and holes: an easy guide

August 14, 2015

You don't need to call your local handyman to fix cracks and holes in your drywall. Instead, follow these expert guides and do it yourself!

Repairing drywall cracks and holes: an easy guide

What you will need

  • Narrow-bladed saw
  • Drywall or MDF board offcut
  • Drill
  • Wood screw
  • Putty knife
  • Broad knife or taping knife
  • Drywall adhesive
  • Drywall mud
  • Sanding block and sandpaper
  • Paint

For cracks and small holes

1. Prepare the area

  • To repair a drywall crack hole, first move furniture out of the area and put down drop sheets.
  • Wearing a dust mask, some form of eye protection and work gloves, rake out any loose material with a suitable scraper.
  • Then dust out the inside of the crack or small hole with a clean paintbrush.

2. Dampen, bond and patch

  • Use a spray bottle to lightly dampen the wall with water.
  • Wait a few minutes until the drywall absorbs the water, then apply a bonding agent to bond your new drywall mud to the wall.
  • Leave this to dry for 45 minutes.
  • Mix your mud according to the instructions on the pack and fill the crack.

3. Clean up the damage around a hole

  • To repair a hole, first remove any loose or crumbling plaster with a scraper.
  • Dust out the inside of the small hole, then use a spray bottle to lightly dampen the wall with water.
  • Wait a few minutes until the plaster absorbs the water.
  • Next, apply a bonding agent and leave it to dry for at least 45 minutes.

4. Fill the small hole

  • Mix up some drywall mud according to the directions on the package.
  • Using your putty knife, fill the hole from the centre out, to a depth just below the wall surface.
  • Before your drywall mud sets, score the surface with a putty knife to produce a crosshatch pattern.
  • This will give your next layer of drywall mud something to hold onto.
  • Let the mud on the wall dry.

5. Finish the job

  • Apply a second coat of drywall mud using your broad knife or taping knife.
  • Look closely to make sure that the surface is level and that there aren't any air bubbles causing indentations.
  • When the patch is dry, lightly sand it with your sanding block covered with medium-grade sandpaper.

What to do with larger holes

Repairing a large hole in your drywall is a bit more involved but still achievable for the average do-it-yourselfer. Here's what you'll want to do:

1. Make the backing

  • Use a narrow-bladed saw to trim the hole into a square.
  • Saw a piece of drywall or MDF board into the same shape, allowing a 2.5 centimetre (1 inch) overlap at top and bottom.
  • Drill a wood screw into your drywall or MDF board leaving enough of the screw sticking out for you to use as a handle.

2. Insert the backing piece

  • Apply adhesive to the front of the backing piece at the top and bottom edges, then guide it through the hole.
  • Pull the piece into position against the back of the hole.
  • Once you're sure the backing piece is firmly stuck, remove the screw.

3. Patch and finish

  • Using your filling knife, start filling the hole with drywall mud.
  • A shallow hole can be filled in one go, but a deeper hole should be filled in layers to allow for shrinkage.
  • When the drywall mud is completely dry, sand the patch so that it's flush with the surrounding drywall, then repaint it.

Repairing cracks and small holes in your drywall can be easy with the right tools and the right knowledge. Follow these expert guides and you'll be on your way to patching drywall like a pro.

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