How to do Your Own Drywall Repairs
For years I had one of my drywall buddies take care of most of my drywall repairs, and for years he would say, “you know this isn’t that hard.”
Finally I heeded one of my favorite jobsite sayings, which is “don’t be scared.” I mean, what’s the worst thing that can happen when doing drywall repairs? The drywall doesn’t have to fit perfectly, and all the joints and fasteners get covered with a plaster-like coating. To top that off, several types of texture are available to camouflage the job.
Now, this is not to downplay the importance of professional drywall installers. When it comes to hanging, taping and texturing big jobs, they can get it done right in a fraction of the time it would take us. But when it comes to repairs, we can do this stuff.
A drywall T-square makes cutting drywall a quick job. I hold the square at the top and press my foot against the bottom, using it as a guide to cut the paper face with my utility knife.
When you watch professional drywallers do touchup and repairs you can tell they aren’t afraid to spread a little mud around. On the jobsite it’s not uncommon to see one of the guys on the drywall crew walking through a nearly finished house with a taping knife and a tray full of joint compound, fixing minor dings and scratches on the walls. They spread the mud around because they can match the texture. When the repair is painted the finish will blend together.
After cutting one face, snap the board back.
There are, of course, lots of reasons for drywall repair, such as water damage, construction dings, cars driven a bit too deep into the garage. When we are remodeling, we create a lot of these repairs on purpose. Sometimes we need to open the walls to run wire and pipe, or we change the size and location of window and door openings. We straighten crooked studs and install handrail backing. All of these projects require some drywall repair.
When it comes to making any kind of repair, it’s best to know the basics of how a product was installed in the first place. Most of our modern houses have interior walls made of gypsum board over studs. The studs are usually spaced at 16 inches on center, and the most common size for the drywall panels is 12-by-4 feet. The long edges of the panels are thinner than the field, which allows room to build up joints flush with the wall plane.
Cut the back paper face to finish separating the piece.
The joints are finished with a combination of tape and joint compound, which is sanded smooth after drying. The surface is then textured and painted.
Attach the piece to the wall with drywall screws. Be careful not to break the paper face with the screw head.
To some degree all drywall repairs will repeat parts of this process. Even if you are just spackling a few nail holes from a previous wall hanging, you need to pay attention to how it affects the texture. If you use too much spackle and smooth out the surrounding area, the repair will be noticeable.