Repair Drywall Reno

Drywall Replacement

Owning a home is a pinnacle achievement for many, and rightly so. Like many goals worth pursuing, it comes with a whole new set of rewards and challenges. Principal among these is the knowledge that you can do what you want with the place but also are ultimately responsible for anything you choose.
​Learning to care for your home to retain value and keep it comfortable is a long skill ramp. One of the things that you’ll look to learn early is how to repair drywall. By volume, drywall comprises a lot of a home’s interior.
With so much material spread evenly throughout the structure, it’s bound to take some damage. Most of this will be relatively light and readily fixable. 
Ready to get started? Let’s dive right in with everything you need to know to DIY in your home. 

How To Repair Drywall

The techniques used to repair drywall are dependent on the type and extent of damage that occurs. 
First, we’ll present a list of tools you’ll need or want on-hand to make the best repairs. From there, you’ll see a list of types of damage and the specific steps and techniques you’ll need for each.
​Finally, we’ll talk about the differences in quality you can expect from the repairs you’re doing. While it’s great to be able to work on small repairs and patches in the home, at some point things wear out and replacement is a better option. 

Tools and Supplies

Like everything else, there’s a sliding scale fo quality of the tools you acquire and the skill you have. When starting out, you’ll be constrained by a budget and will have to opt for good enough. 
Remember that it’s common to spend up to 4% of the home’s value in maintenance annually. 

Here’s a quick list of tools:

  • Dust Mask
  • Drill
  • Drywall Saw
  • Broad Knife
  • Carpenter’s Knife
  • Putty Knife
  • Trowel
  • Drywall Tape
  • Drywall Screws
  • Spackle
  • Sandpaper, 120-grit
  • Joint Compound, pre-mixed
  • Furring Strips
  • Drywall Patch Kit

Some of these are one and done purchases, while others you’ll need to get more of as repairs appear. Paying top price for materials or tools you barely know how to use can upgrade the final quality but experience counts for more.
A master can make any tool work, a novice will find ways to cut themselves with a hammer. 
Remember to wear a drywall mask when doing sanding and cutting of drywall. Any helpers should also mask up for this process. It’s best to lay down damp towels to collect falling dust to make carpet and floor cleaning easier.

Small Holes

What do we mean by a small hole? Generally, a small hole is a bit smaller than a nickel or about the diameter of a thumb. 
Small holes are the easiest repair because the surface area to missing volume ratio is ideal for the filler material to adhere well.
You have two options for filling a small hole: joint compound or spackle. It’s best to buy joint compound pre-mixed. The chemicals are difficult to get to the right consistency when mixing it yourself and the additional labor is often not worth the difference in price.
Spackle is easier to come by and easier to apply, however, it shrinks as it sets. You may need to hit an area twice or more to get enough fill.

Prep

Start by cleaning the hole of debris and rounding out the edges. this takes some finesse to ensure the repair goes well without inadvertently making the hole, and therefore the repair, bigger. 
Next, cut a bevel around the entire hole with a carpenter’s knife. This gives a rough surface for the filler to grip and ensures a better repair. You need only do this for a hole of about a finger width or larger. For a pinhole, you’ll do well skipping to the putty knife step.
Wipe up any dust and excess left from the bevel cut. Take a putty knife and fill the hole with your chosen filler. You want the hole to be filled but not tightly packed.

Fill

Too much filler will not dry and leaves the hole loose for the final steps. 
With the hole filled, spread a little around the wall to make the hole concave, a bit raised out of the wall. Better to have a bit of a pile than a divet.
From there, let everything air-dry. This won’t take a lot of time in a dry environment but give it extra time on a muggy day or if you live closer to a lake or other natural water feature. 

Finish
After the joint compound or spackle is applied and set the repair is done but not finished. For the final step, you will sand over the filler to get it flush with the wall. With the wall now patched and smooth you can re-prime and repaint the area.
 
Tears and Cracks

Tears and cracks form by different processes but are essentially the same to repair. These can be subtle, amounting to little more than a cosmetic wound, or go straight through to the wall insulation. 
Cracks form horizontally, opening and widening over time. They are most frequently caused by settling. Tears are vertical and form from excess heat and cold cycles compressing and stretching the wall. 

Prep

For small cracks and tears, you want to clean out the area gently. Tears and cracks tend to be jagged already and cleaning them aggressively will widen them.
For wider cracks, you’ll need to add a mesh to the edges of the crack or inside.
For any size of crack, you’ll need to cut lengths of tape. these lengths need to be longer than the crack itself and will anchor some of the filler while drying. 

Fill

Start filling the tear loosely as with a small hole. For a tear straight through you want to avoid slopping filler out the back so build up as you go. Fill in about an eighth of an inch of a crack then set a length of tape on either side. 
Apply more filler in the crack and across the tape, feathering a few inches past the tape. Watch for bubbles forming in under the tape and smooth them out with the putty knife as you go.
Let the filler dry for as much as a full 24 hours. Cracks contain far more filler than a hole and need more time to set. 
After the initial drying period, sand the area smooth and flush to the drywall. Now apply a second layer of filler the same as before but don’t apply any extra tape.

Finish
Sand the repaired area after the second 24 hour drying period. Wipe down the area and then begin applying fresh primer and paint to restore the wall to its previous condition. ​
 
Larger Holes

Large holes in drywall need to handled carefully to ensure the stability of the drywall sheet. An improper repair on a large hole can quickly create a tear and lead to further repair work or destruction of the whole sheet.
Large holes are generally anything larger than six inches across

Prep

Measure the hole and cut a patch of drywall from a fresh sheet. This is best done with a drywall saw but you can rough it out with a box cutter or scoring knife and then break it along a corner if needed. 
Place the patch sheet over the hole area and mark the wall. Using a drywall saw or a knife, cut out the remainder of the space from the hole to the markings. 
Err towards the inside of your markings, it’s easier to widen the hole than to cut a new patch. 
Measure and cut a set of furring strips and get a set of drywall screws ready.

Fill

Attach the furring strips on the backside of the hole. Anchor the front of the furring strips with drywall screws. The screw heads need to be flush with the wall but it’s better to aim for a slight dimple than a bulge. 
With the furring strips in place, set the patch into position. It should fit snuggly without pinching or bowing. The patch should rest against the furring strips along the backside of the hole. 
Secure the furring strip to the patch with drywall screws. 
Slide drywall tape into the areas around the edges of the patch. Fill the remaining gap with filler material. Give this time to partially dry.
With the patch in place and the edges partially dry, spread filler across the entire patch and beyond the edges of the tape as if it were a tear. 

Finish

Let everything dry a full 24 hours. Sand down the excess and then add an additional coat of filler material.
Wait an additional 24 hours for the new coat to set. Sand to a fine finish, wipe away dust, and then prime and paint as needed.

Persistent Cracks

While some cracks are one and done deals, others return periodically. These annoying bits of damage are best repaired professionally to discover the source of the problem and shore up walls to prevent further trouble.
For the die-hard DIY fan, learning how to repair drywall cracks that frequently reappear gets more involved. 

Prep

Scrape out paint and debris in the crack itself. Look for the widest part of the crack and mark this for later.
Measure out lengths of mesh tape, again, slightly longer than the crack itself.

Fill

Place the tape along the sides along the length of the crack. 
Fill the crack an eighth of an inch at a time, making certain that the filler goes into the crack fully. Apply mesh tape directly over the crack. Mesh tape will allow some filler material to pass through and act as a matrix to hold the crack together.
Feather the filler across the tape and out a few inches beyond the tape. Allow the repaired area to dry for the customary 24 hours.
FinishAfter sanding, apply a second round of filler but not tape and dry again.
Complete the repair with a round of sanding, cleaning, priming, and painting. 

Water Damage

Water damage is a tricky DIY repair. It’s difficult to determine how much of the drywall has taken damage and if you’ll need to do large patches or reinforcing filler.
Removing the damaged areas is important to prevent the spread of water to more areas and restrict the possibility of molds and mildews growing, even in a dry climate.  

Prep

Probe the suspect area with a marking pencil. Push gently but firmly until the pen stops. If it goes through the drywall completely, move to the next probe area. 
For completely soaked drywall, you want to cut the area out and repair it as a large hole. 
For partial damage, you can scrape out the rotted material and then fill the remainder. This is a so-so fix as it significantly weakens a section of the drywall sheet.
Water damage is tricky to detect when it occurs behind the drywall sheet but is repaired by removing the whole section and then patching. 

Severe Damage

Repair work is always made against the threat of diminishing returns. Frequent repairs add cost 
and are bandaids on top of an underlying issue. 
Repairing more than 30% of a wall area runs into a competing cost of simply replacing the entire panel. When estimating the cost of a DIY repair, remember to count your own time as a cost. Look for an estimate on a professional local repair and compare before deciding to undertake a severe damage repair. 
​Large repairs become difficult to keep the panels even and the patches from bowing in changing temperatures.

Retain Value

Remember that knowing how to repair drywall only saves you money when your repair doesn’t cost you more than its worth. Repairs may look nice enough but you could be reducing the energy efficiency of your walls with each hole patched and crack filled.
For purposes of selling or eventing renting out a home, professional drywall repair adds value and protects your home. Contact JCN Painting for a quote on drywall repair and replacements.