Drywall isn’t difficult to work with. In fact, that’s why drywall was created — a little more than a century ago, all houses were built with hand-plastered walls; artisans spent weeks spreading plaster onto block or between building beams to create a smooth surface for paint and décor.
When drywall was created in the late 19th century, it revolutionised construction. Compared to plaster, drywall is a quick and easy solution for creating smooth walls and ceilings.
However, that’s not to say that anyone can complete any drywall job. If the drywall in your home needs some work — perhaps because of some unrestrained roughhousing or else some catastrophic water damage — then you might be looking for simple solutions. Here’s a guide to how you can repair the drywall in your home, and more importantly whether or not you need professional help.
When the Holes Are Big
A big hole in drywall might be caused by extensive water damage, a flying piece of furniture, rough-housing kids. A large hole might compromise an entire drywall panel or perhaps several. Generally, the fix is relatively easy.
First, remove any damaged drywall and cut the hole so it has square corners. Then, measure the hole and cut an identically sized piece of drywall to fit inside. If there is a stud behind your hole, you can attach your new piece of drywall to that; otherwise, you’ll need to affix a 1 X 4 vertically down the centre of your hole, so your new piece of drywall has something to hang from. Once your drywall is screwed in place, you will need to apply a layer of mesh drywall tape and joint compound over the cracks. Once the compound has set, you can sand and reapply, if necessary.
It’s only a good idea to repair your own large drywall holes if you have some experience hanging drywall; otherwise, you might make mistakes that compromise the structure of the wall. Additionally, if you live in multi-family housing, like an apartment building in Portland or Baltimore, drywall repair services are the way to go, so you don’t impact your neighbours.
When the Holes Are Small
Teeny-tiny holes, like those made by picture tacks, shelf screws or nail pops, are the easiest of all drywall problems to fix. All you need is a tube of fast-drying spackle, which you can find at your nearest home improvement store. Take a small amount of spackle and smooth it into the hole, making sure the spackle is level with the drywall surface. The spackle should set for at least 24 hours; then, you can sand any rough edges and paint over the spot.
Slightly larger small holes, up to six inches in diameter, are a different story. Medium-sized holes aren’t quite large enough to warrant purchasing a panel of drywall and cutting a patch, but they are too large for spackle to fill with any integrity. You can try cutting your medium-sized hole larger to accommodate a piece of drywall — or you can invest in mesh drywall patches. These are like large pieces of drywall tape that you adhere with joint compound to create a smoother surface over the hole. You might need to apply three or four layers of joint compound to erase all signs of the patch and hole, so be patient with this fix — or call in an expert.
When the Holes Are in Weird Spots
A hole in the middle of your wall is one thing; you can be relatively sure that you won’t encounter anything too dangerous, like wires or plumbing, and it’s easy to manoeuvre your knives, saws and screwdrivers without doing more damage to the structure of your wall. However, when a hole is in a weird position on your wall, like in corners or near moulding, you’ll have more difficulty fixing it.
You might be able to apply the above methods to patching your holes, but you might also need to invest in more difficult-to-find materials like corner drywall tape (for inside corners) or bead board (for outside corners). Additionally, before you start patching, you might want to call an expert to check out cracks and holes in the corners of your walls because they could be indicative of a more serious structural problem, perhaps in your foundation. As always, you shouldn’t hesitate to call a professional if you aren’t sure that your DIY repair job is right.