Hot Topics: Patch or Install New Drywall?

Damaged drywall

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With new kitchen cabinets on the way, this DIYer decided to have the backsplash torn out. But with the tile removal comes the question of how to treat the wall underneath. A handyman claims that the existing drywall is good enough, but the homeowner isn't so sure. Here's what the forum has to say.

Original Post: Kitchen Renovation: Patch or Install New Drywall?

TylerJay Member

We're installing new cabinets in the kitchen and, naturally, the backsplash tiles had to come out. Now, I was told by my "handyman" that all I would need to do is scrape off the glue and he would apply mud over the existing drywall.

I don't mind installing new drywall, but which is actually the better, faster way to do things? I figured maybe he's wanting more hours out of the project and wants to mud, sand, mud, sand, etc., whereas if my friends and I simply install new drywall, it would be quicker and there would be new drywall, not some 40+ year-old stuff.

Kitchen reno.

XSleeper Member

It will likely be less work to skim coat the existing drywall. New drywall requires more work: prefilling panel edge gaps, taping all edges and corners, and then coating with three coats of joint compound. By skimming, it should hopefully only be two coats.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

I would also scrape and skim coat the walls. I think it's always best to keep the drywall intact if possible when tearing out tile—not always easy to do.

Apply Gardz primer to the walls before skimming to ensure adhesion.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Gardz is especially important if there is exposed gypsum and/or torn paper, as it will seal the wall so the moisture in the joint compound or latex primer won't cause more damage (softening the gypsum, lifting more paper).

TylerJay Member

Some corners have been torn out already (oops, my bad), so they do need retaping.

Should I ask my handyman if he's applying Gardz primer? All he said was it just needed a couple of coats of "mud" and it'd be good to go.

A lot of paper has been torn off, which is really giving me anxiety about what to do.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Sometimes you can get by with applying mud directly over raw gypsum, but not always. It's very difficult to mud up to or over torn paper and not have more paper come loose. Zinsser's Gardz is a cheap insurance to make sure there aren't any problems. An oil based primer can be used instead of Gardz.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

I would make sure the Gardz is used. It keeps the drywall compound from bubbling or blistering when it's applied over torn paper. As Mark said, it also glues the loose paper down.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Just to be clear, loose paper should be removed, but don't just pull it off as it will remove stuck paper, too. It's best to cut/score the paper and then peel to the cut mark. Once that is done you can apply the Gardz.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

I would ask him—he might not know of the primer and it makes the job better and easier.

Like Mark said, remove the big pieces. The loose paper I referred to is the feathered edges of a tear. Sealing the edges down and sealing the raw paper goes a long way to getting a nice finish right off the bat.

TylerJay Member

Well, I took the tiles down and obviously there's some damage.

Torn up drywall.

So do you guys still think patching is a good idea or maybe just cutting out some big sheets of drywall and going that route? I'm okay with either way. I'd just like to know what's the most efficient way?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

In my opinion, skim coating is quicker. You will need to coat bare areas with Gardz or an oil based primer first.

TylerJay Member

Now as for this one piece where the cupboard collapsed and pushed in the side of the drywall, I'm guessing a new cut-out piece of drywall is best?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

If it's behind the cabinet, I wouldn't be overly concerned but if it will be visible I'd replace that section (stud to stud).

TylerJay Member

Well, thanks to a very ambitious friend, we decided to simply buy new drywall and got it cut to size at Home Depot. Fit like a glove, EXCEPT one friend decided to be Freddy Krueger while cleaning up the old drywall to allow for a clean fit. So I told him to be careful with the vapor barrier and since I mentioned Freddy, you know where this is headed. He did quite a hack job in a few places with some slices very close to one another.

I mentioned it to another friend and he said I should take the drywall down and tape it up. Is tape sufficient enough? I mean, he did hack quite a few strokes into the barrier.

Otherwise, it would have been perfect.

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