Fixing Damaged Drywall

spreading compound on a drywall hole
What You'll Need
Drywall saw
Piece of wood
Tape measure
Drywall screws
Cordless drill
Scrap drywall
Drywall tape
Putty knife
Drywall spackle
Tin can lid (optional)
String (optional)
Piece of wood (optional)
Drywall saw (optional)
Cordless drill with drill bit (optional)
Putty knife (optional)
Drywall patching compound (optional)

A sheet of drywall, while relatively strong, only consists of a layer of gypsum plaster between two thick sheets of paper. It’s then kiln-dried to ensure rigidity. This basic construction allows the drywall to be both inexpensive and easy to use. On the downside; it is also easily damaged.

In most homes, there are usually one or two nicks, dings or holes in the walls that need attention. If the damage doesn’t extend all the way through the drywall, then the fix is simple. Just remove any loose plaster or paper around the edge and apply some drywall spackle. Wait for it to dry, sand the area and apply another coat if needed. Sand it again when dry and that will do it.

But what about larger problems, like holes in the drywall? Hiring a professional will cost you money you may not want to part with, and in truth, why do it when you can easily repair the drywall yourself? Here are a few ways you can easily fix damaged drywall for pennies.

Fixing Damaged Drywall the Old-Fashioned Way

large hole in ceiling next to a light bulb

If the damage extends through the drywall, one way to fix it is to patch it with a scrap piece of drywall.

The first thing you will do is to use the drywall saw to make the damaged area easier to repair. Cut a square in the drywall to remove the affected section. Measure the dimensions of that square and cut a piece of scrap drywall to meet those dimensions.

Next, take your piece of wood and insert it into the hole so that it spans the open space. Using the cordless drill, screw drywall screws on each side of the hole into the wood to secure it against the back of the drywall.

Take the drywall patch you cut earlier and set it into place. Secure it to the wood using another drywall screw. Apply drywall tape around the edges of the square and apply spackle, or joint compound. Allow it to fully dry, sand and repeat until completely smooth.

Fixing Damaged Drywall with a Tin Can Lid

partially patched drywall hole

If you don’t have any scrap drywall handy, you can easily repair your damaged wall using the lid from a tin can. Of course, for this to work, the circumference of the lid has to be larger than the hole in the wall.

Drill two holes into the center of the can lid about an inch apart. Fish the string through one hole and bring it back through the second.

Take the drywall saw and cut a length-wise slit on each side of the hole in the wall so the tin can lid can slide through. Holding on to the string, slide the lid through the slits and pull the string once the lid is on the inside of the wall. This will bring it up flat against the hole.

Take the piece of wood, set it flat against the wall and wrap the string around it. Tie it tightly and this will hold the tin can lid in place. Use the putty knife to spread drywall patching compound over the tin can lid. Do not fill the hole with putty just yet. Once you have about 2/3 of the depth of the hole filled, allow it to fully dry before finishing.

When the patch is completely dry, cut the string and remove the piece of wood. Then, fill the remainder of the hole with drywall patching compound. Once dry, sand and repeat until smooth.

The 2-Minute Drywall Fix

Home improvement stores now sell instant drywall patch kits that consist of a square of sheet metal (available in various sizes) covered by self-adhesive drywall tape. This patch takes only two minutes to apply. Just clean the area around the hole, peel off the backing and stick the patch right over the hole in the wall. Cover the area with spackle or joint compound, wait for it to dry, sand, and repeat until smooth.

Hanging drywall is one thing. Fixing damaged drywall is another. You don’t need to be an expert mason or carpenter to make these simple repairs. Just follow these easy tips and once primed and painted, you’ll never remember where the hole was to begin with.

Dave Donovan is a freelance copywriter living in Atco, N.J. An electrician for 15 years, an injury forced him to pursue his true passion - writing.