Drywall repair might look easy and it is, when you've done enough of it and that's the challenge. Where do you get enough experience so you'll be happy doing your own drywall repairs? If you've gone through a major remodeling project, you might have enough experience installing drywall, taping and mudding (learn about Drywall Mud and Peanut Butter). You might help a friend or find a Habitat for Humanity project and get your experience there.
Most homeowners don't have these opportunities but every homeowner eventually has drywall repair challenges. Drywall repairs were one of the top 10 repairs when I ran my handyman business. The work goes quickly but you've got to schedule several visits because you need to apply 2 or 3 coats of drywall compound with at least 24 hours (sometimes longer with hot, humid weather) drying time between coats of mud.
In this article we'll start with an overview of the steps involved in a drywall repair. Following this we'll look at the different types of repairs and provide recommendations on which ones homeowners should tackle, and those where you might be better off hiring a handyman.
How Big is Your Drywall Repair?
The size of your repair will determine how much work is required. Small holes and cracks might only need a coat of spackle or joint compound while larger holes or damaged drywall require installing new sheetrock (another word for drywall). So let's look at the most common drywall repairs faced by homeowners.
- Nail pops are when the nails used to attach the drywall to the studs behind the walls/ceilings stick out from the surface. This is most common in new construction and occurs as the house settles.
- Small holes from hanging artwork, door knobs banging into walls and dings from kids toys, moving furniture and other mishaps.
- Drywall paper that's ripped or missing when nail heads go too deep or you decide to remove something that was glued to the wall, like a bathroom mirror.
|These small drywall repairs are small enough that they can be done with a few tools, drywall compound and the right drywall repair kit that provides mesh tape to cover small holes. The repairs don't need any structural support added inside the walls or new drywall installed.|
Larger Drywall Repairs
As drywall repair projects get larger, you may need to add support inside the wall and/or replace some of the drywall. These larger jobs require more skills and tools. So let's look at the tools you'll need to buy and store.
- Cordless drill to screw new drywall into the wall studs inside the wall.
- Drywall saw to cut out the old drywall being replaced.
- Multiple drywall knives (3, 6 and 8 inch widths) to spread the joint compound out.
- A hacksaw and nail bar if you need to remove a section of the corner bead.
Drywall Repair Choices – DIY or Hire a Pro
Now is when you want to consider how many of these repair projects you want to tackle personally. If you like working with your hands and get satisfaction from learning new skills, then drywall repair skills are worth developing. You'll be able to make more changes to your home like extending the wall next to the refrigerator by 6 inches. When you do have plumbing leaks (we all do), you'll be able to repair the drywall as plumbers won't do this.
If you're not terribly handy or you're very fussy about how your walls and ceilings look, you might decide that a drywall repair job goes on your punchlist for your handyman to tackle.
For those wanting to do-it-yourself, here are some good resources we found.
- Popular Mechanics, 5 Fixes for Damaged Drywall – offers detailed descriptions for fixing the most common drywall problems. They take drywall repairs seriously and have other articles like a 31 step process with illustrations and 18 steps to smooth joints for those DIY homeowners who want to master the art of drywall repair.
- Lowe's Patch and Repair Drywall video is long, and does an excellent job of giving you a visual overview of many different drywall repairs. You'll need to read up on the details elsewhere unless you've done this work before and just need a refresher.