DO-IT-YOURSELF : Two Ways to Patch Drywall Holes

From Associated Press

The material most widely used on interior house walls is gypsum wallboard, also known as plasterboard or drywall. Although it serves its purpose well, it is relatively brittle and can puncture when struck by a sharp blow.

But patching a hole is not difficult, and you’ll obtain a neat, sound repair by using one of two basic methods. Both make use of ready-mixed joint compound, which is available in hardware stores and lumberyards.

Holes up to four inches in diameter are patched with the wire mesh backup procedure. Begin by cutting a piece of ordinary wire screening slightly larger than the hole to be repaired. Thread a length of string through the center of the screen.


Next, moisten the edge of the hole and the perimeter of the back side of the opening. While holding onto the string, curl the screen and fit it through the hole in the wall. Then pull on the string to draw the screen up against the back of the wallboard. Tie the string around a pencil or a length of dowel that spans the opening.

Apply a layer of compound to the screen but not flush with the surface of the wall. When the whole screen has been coated, twist the pencil slightly to increase the tension on the screen. Allow this first layer to set, then cut the string to remove the pencil.

Apply a second layer of compound so the patch will be flush with the surface of the wall. When this flush coat has set, apply a final thin coating of compound over the patch and slightly onto the surrounding wallboard. When dry, sand the patch with 220-grit abrasive paper.

Holes larger than four or five inches are best repaired with a plug cut from a scrap of wallboard. First, trim the hole square, then cut a piece of board about two inches longer on each side than the hole size.

Mark off a centered area on the back of the patch, three-quarters of an inch smaller on each side than the hole in the wall. Cut through the paper surface and slightly into the core.

Snap the board on each score line and carefully peel away the core material so that the center wallboard section remains in the center along with the overhanging front facing paper, which acts as a flap.


Use 120-grit paper to sand the edges of the flap until they taper to a point. Dampen all surfaces that will be bonded. Then apply joint compound to the back of the patch flap, the edges and the hole.

Press the plug patch into place in the hole, and use a wide-blade knife to work the paper flap flush to the wall and squeeze out excess compound.

Allow to dry and then apply a thin coat of compound, extending about one or two inches beyond the patch area. When this is dry, sand smooth.