How to Patch Holes in Drywall
LESLIE: Hugh in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
HUGH: Just finished up a job of replacing a bunch of water pipes. And we had to cut a whole pile of holes in the ceiling, in the walls and so on to have access. And so we’ve got a bunch of sheetrock work to do and I was wanting to get a recommendation on what the best tools to get – in other words, how the best way to cut it is, whether a knife or a hand saw or some sort of jig saw or toothless saw or whatever, and other basic tools that would be needed to do a good job on replacing the sheetrock.
LESLIE: Oh, Hugh, I can sympathize with you completely on this because we just did this in my basement, which is also my home design office and the playroom for my family.
TOM: You just did this project.
LESLIE: And there were holes everywhere in the ceiling and walls. Then we had another leak and we had to make more holes. It was really exciting and so I’m completely with you on this project.
Now, in the areas where you’ve actually made holes to get to the pipes that you’ve now repaired, did you happen to cut the drywall open to a point where you’ve exposed the studs on either side, so that when you go to make a patch you have something to attach to?
HUGH: A bunch of them, yes. And we tried to kind of split the 2×4 where the new piece will be approximately ¾-inch on the 2×4. Some of it, though, there – well, all of it, we have at least an exposed 2×4 on one side or another to nail to but we may have to scab on a 2×4 or something like that or I guess – don’t they make some sort of a metal deal where you can put it in there and it helps to hook the old sheetrock to the new sheetrock without having to have a 2×4 behind it or something?
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of ways to do this. How big are the holes? Are there any small holes or are these all big holes?
HUGH: It ranges from probably a 1-foot by 2-foot all the way up to, well, one big chunk of one wall, which is about 15 foot.
TOM: OK. So these are pretty big pieces. So then you’re going to need to support them with some structure.
TOM: So, sometimes it makes sense to open up the hole until you get to the middle of the adjoining joist or stud, depending on whether it’s a wall or a ceiling, so that you can kind of go halfway down.
TOM: So don’t feel like you’re causing more destruction by doing that. Frankly, it’s going to come out better if you could open this up until the piece will actually split across the floor joist. And once you have that edge exposed, then you can simply attach the piece to it. I would use drywall screws for that.
Now, the art of this is in the patch. And so the first step is to lightly sand the area because if you – especially if you have old wall there, it might have some debris on it. So just lightly touch that up. And then you use a fiberglass tape across the seam.
TOM: Fiberglass is very forgiving because it’s perforated. And you can put that on first and then put the spackle over that and it’ll press through it. If you use paper tape, you have to put spackle in first and then the paper tape over that and hope you got out all the air bubbles. So use the fiberglass tape and then you want to use three successive layers of spackle. You want to start small with a smaller knife, like about a 4-inch tape knife, and then you go to a 6-inch knife and then an 8- to 10-inch knife, so every one gets a little bit wider. And because you don’t do this all the time, you’re going to probably end up sanding in between.
And so that’s really the process. And then once you’re done with the patching, then you’re going to want to prime the entire room – all the affected walls and ceilings – and then paint it. And because you’re not a pro, I would definitely use a flat paint. Because if there’s any imperfections, it just won’t show up as badly as it could.
HUGH: OK. Now, one thing that bothered me was sheetrock is beveled on the edges. And I guess, ideally, if I could go back to where the bevel is on the sheetrock and then put a beveled piece in so that you can seal it and all that – but is that – would I be better off to go ahead and take some big chunks out or bigger chunks than what I’ve got, so that we can get back to that?
HUGH: Or can you usually smooth it out enough to where it doesn’t show?
TOM: No. Not necessary. I wouldn’t worry about the beveled edge. The beveled edge is very helpful when you’re doing whole sheets but …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s going to go under the tape anyway, if you’re using it.
TOM: Right. When you’re doing a patch, I would specifically actually not use a beveled edge when I’m doing a patch. There’s really no reason to.
TOM: I find it easier – even if I had one beveled edge against one thick edge, I find that more difficult to spackle to because it’s not even, it’s not flat. So I would not worry about the beveled edge unless you’re doing full sheets.
HUGH: OK. Alright. I surely do appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.