3 Tips When Filling a Deep Hole in a Wall

a hole in a pink stucco wall

When an elbow or table leg punctures your wall, it’s time to gather up your DIY tool kit and make a repair. A deep puncture in your wall can be anything from a nail hole to a gaping space where drywall should be. Smaller holes can be easily remedied, while larger holes require more supplies and labor. Regardless, the process for repairing a deep hole in a wall is easy and inexpensive.

1. Go with Pre-Mixed Fillers for Narrow, Deep Holes

For holes like those from a large nail or a countersink that’s been yanked from the wall, some plaster or spackling should do the trick. These materials come in pre-mixed versions in tubs or squeezable tubes, and powdered options you mix yourself.

If you’re working with drywall material, the pre-mixed spackling options are the easiest to use for minor repairs. Simply scoop some onto the surface and press it into the hole. Use a putty knife to scrape it mostly even with the surface of the wall. Leave a slight outward bump to allow for shrinkage as it dries. You don’t want your filler to shrink down and leave an indent inside the hole you just repaired.

If you're working with a wood surface, use a wood filler that closely matches your wood finish.

thin putty knife applying putty to a wall

2. Mix Your Own for Medium-Size Holes

To fix a larger hole, grab a box of self-mix dry plaster. It’s also a more cost effective option than the pre-mixed versions that charge you for convenience and only provide a small amount of product. For wall holes punched through drywall or plaster, mix your joint compound and rebuild the wall portion one layer at a time.

Press the substance into the hole and try to level it with the wall. Allow it to dry and apply a second layer if necessary. This technique works for deep holes that are not very wide and don’t require an actual wall patch. If the plaster falls right into the hole, move on to the next set of instructions.

With your medium-size hole filled and dry, you may need to lightly sand it to smooth it out with the wall. You may also need to add texture to match the wall before painting over your repair.

3. Patching Large Holes

For larger holes, you will need to replace the missing wall material, be it plaster or wood.

a large putty knife applying putty to a wall

Step 1

Square up the hole using a file, the edge of a screwdriver, or a drywall saw. Any of these devices will help you smooth out the edges so they can butt up neatly to your patching materials.

Step 2

Provide a mounting support for your wall material by installing a cross beam behind the surface of the wall. Mount a board to the studs on either side of the hole. Then use this board to mount your wall material patch.

Step 3

Cut your patch piece from a slab of sheetrock matching the depth of the existing wall.

Step 4

Place the patch in the hole. It should fit snugly, but small gaps around the edges are fine.

Step 5

Use drywall tape to cover the seam around the patch. Moisten the tape in drywall mud and squeeze out the excess by running the tape between your fingers. Then press the tape onto the wall

Step 6

Wait for the tape to dry completely.

Step 7

Mix and apply a thin layer of drywall compound, covering the seams on both sides of the tape. Feather the compound across the existing wall material to make a smooth transition.

Step 8

Remember that every bump and seam will show beneath the paint, so make sure your compound is smooth all the way across the patch and thick enough to hide tape lines.

Step 9

If your wall is textured, the patch will be obvious unless you match it to the surrounding area. Apply texture to the patch and area where it meets the existing wall material. Texture can be bought in a spray can, or you can add granules to your paint. Play with some samples to see what best matches your texture finish.

Step 10

When the texture is dry, apply primer and paint that matches the rest of the wall.

Deep Wall Holes FAQ

How do you fill a punched hole in the wall?

You can move a little too aggressively or bump into a wall while carrying something and punch a hole in a wall without a lot of effort. It's not difficult to cause this type of damage but fixing it takes a bit more work.

Drywall repair patches make it easy to fill into small holes that are six inches are less. You will place a patch on the wall to cover the hole, then cover this with a thin layer of joint compound.

Smooth away the excess, allow it to dry, and then sand the compound completely smooth with sandpaper. Apply a second coat of compound and repeat the process.

You will probably need a third coat of compound before you can prime and paint the repaired spot. Allow all layers to dry completely before moving on to the next step each time.

How do you cover a large hole in the wall?

To repair a large hole in a wall, you will first need to clean away any pieces of drywall or debris from the hole to have a clean area to work with. Cut out the hole to make it square or rectangular in shape.

Next, cut a piece of drywall to size to serve as a patch. Cut it into a square that is larger than the hole, then cover the hole and cut the patch more precisely.

Use furring strips to attach the drywall patch, then cover it with joint tape and joint compound. Use several layers of compound until you have a level, smooth finish, and then you can prime and paint the repair spot.

How do you fix a large hole in the wall without drywall?

If you don't want to use drywall to fix a hole in drywall, you still have a few other options. You can attempt to fill the holes with spackling or joint compound but first, you have to cover the hole with wire mesh to give the material something to stick to.

You can also choose not to repair the hole and instead, make it even bigger and use plywood and molding to frame out an in-the-wall shelf. For large holes, this may actually be the best and easiest option.

How big of a hole can you patch with spackle?

Spackle can reliably repair a hole in the wall that is four inches in diameter or smaller. Otherwise, you'll need some sort of patch to cover the hole and you'll want to use joint compound to fill it in.

How big of a hole can you patch in drywall?

You can always replace a large part of the wall with a new piece of drywall, so any hole can be repaired. There is no hole so big that it can't be patched because in the worst-case scenario, you will simply replace an entire drywall panel.