How to Repair, Fix and Patch a Hole in Drywall – 2018 Guide

Drywall gets damaged, that’s readily apparent to anyone who knows a thing or two about it. It’s really just compressed gypsum between some thin cardboard, after all. The damage your wall takes and the effect it has on you can range from cosmetic to borderline-structural, and it’s important for any home owner to know how at least the basics of fixing things in the event of an impact on the wall.


My favorite Drywall Repair method is the Method Two described in this guide. Make sure that you pay full attention to details. Have fun and Good Luck!”
Nick , HandymanStation

Assess the Damage

The first thing you’ll have to do is take a quick look over the damage and determine how extensive it is. The thing about sheetrock is that it can transfer force laterally along the surface in the event an impact caused the hole. The culprit is often, but not always, the outer layer of paper, but you’ll need to know how much damage has been done.

  • Put more simply: the damage might be bigger than the hole. The gypsum might be shattered outside of the hole as well, which means you’ll need to determine the exact extent of the damage.
  • We utilize a very scientific method for this, and it can be hard to grasp for the layman but listen up and give it a shot poke around the edge of the whole out to about three inches with your finger.

If it gives or moves, the damage has extended beyond the main area. This is more common in older drywall, it’ll naturally take on a bit of moisture after some time and that will help the perpendicular movement of force.

The entire area that gives is your actual damaged area, and in extreme cases of shattering it might be time to get a drywall hand saw and cut it out. A little bit of give right around the area of impact isn’t going to change much, however.

Choosing a Method

Method One- Patch It


Drywall patches are often used to conceal minor damage, but that’s exactly what the patch is: concealment. In the event of a vigorous opening of a door or a low hole in the wall caused by dropping something an inch and a half or less that penetrated quickly without additional damage, they’ll do just fine.

In general, they’re fine for any hole two inches or less. They’re often not considered permanent, but they can last for years and it’s really not a big deal if it’s somewhere the cosmetic damage isn’t constantly visible.

Applying them is pretty simple, first you’ll need to prepare the surface properly. Grab a razor knife and cut the edges clean and make sure the area is dry.

After this you’ll cut the patch to size, let it protrude a little bit over the edges. Some people use a lot of care in doing this, but frankly if you’re very concerned about cosmetics you should use one of the methods we’ll describe in a moment instead of a patch.

Then all it takes is applying the putty that comes with the patch and leveling it off. If you’re planning on a more extensive repair later, then it doesn’t matter much how it looks but if you’re going to use it as a semi-permanent solution then take a little bit of time to make sure everything is level and smooth.

Patches are a great quick fix, but not the ideal solution. They won’t stand up to even relatively light impacts, and you shouldn’t mud over them later, if you intend to refinish the wall you’ll need to get a little bit more advanced.

Method Two-Mud Patching


If things are a bit bigger, then you’re going to have to get really advanced. Using this method you’ll be applying the same compound used to cover your walls in order to fill in the damaged area.

Prepare the surface, clean it gently and clean up the edges of the hole with your razor knife as we talked about earlier.

You’ll then be applying a light spray of water if your intended mud isn’t acrylic or polymer based. Don’t over-do it, getting moisture damage around the hole is just going to aggravate matters in a couple of months.

Using a non-shrink joint compound apply it carefully and evenly over the hole. Now, we should emphasize that professionals will generally tell you that layering the compound on is a complicated, skilled task which requires years of on-the-job training to fully grasp.

It’s not.

Apply the compound with a wide putty knife. The putty knife should, preferably, be wider than the hole. While it’s certainly possible to get a seamless finish without using that wide of a putty knife, it’ll take a lot of time.

Water based compounds really are the easiest to use here, but they also take significantly longer to dry and you may want to apply multiple coats. The “glazing” process that sounds so complicated is actually simple: spray a bit of water and scrape with the putty knife again.

The real key to getting a smooth finish here is to move the putty knife in only one direction.

There’s another key factor too here, and one which can save your finish even if you’re not able to grasp the complexities of running a putty knife. Sand the compound even with the wall after it dries.

Many people will wait until the next day to sand, particularly in their own homes and using a slow drying compound. Thicker portions, like around the edge of the putty knife strokes, can be dry on the surface but wet underneath.

This is a simple, permanent repair and it’s pretty much foolproof as long as you take one precaution in the final step: do not sand through the paper outside the drywall around the hole.

Method 3-Patching With Drywall


If you have a larger hole, say on the order of three to four inches it’s time to break out the big guns. Or at least some real tools.

In this case it’ll be most appropriate to use a keyhole saw to clean the area. Afterwards, measure out a rectangle around the hole using a carpenter’s square. Cut it out with your saw, being careful to make clean edges, slowly but surely is better than quick and dirty here as this is precise work.

Before you get going, however, you’ll need to determine the thickness of the drywall you’re replacing. It’s simple to do, after you’ve cleaned it up but before you go to the store measure the thickness with a ruler or measuring tape.

Once you have your sheet, cut the new sheet down to size using a razor knife or powered saw, making sure you get straight lines and you cut a couple of inches outside of the final size of the square. Get the measurements exact by tracing off the rectangle itself.

Now, simply cut it to fit. Go slowly if you have to, and try to use a razor knife to do it. If you use the razor knife just right you’ll be able to cut through the back and the gypsum core without cutting through the paper on the far side. This is exactly what you want to do.

After this, simply slot the piece the hole. If you ended up cutting over a stud, you may wish to drive a screw into the stud and covering it with a little bit of mud to secure it further, but done properly you’ll have a free-standing patch that’ll last for quite a while and there’s no reason to rip up more of the wall to get a place to screw things in.

Method 4-Patches For Truly Large Holes


Go through the third method until you have the rectangle cut out of the wall. At this point, you’re going to need a good screw gun and drywall screws.

Get some plywood and cut it out with a rim about one inch wider than the hole, two inches if you’re worried about your ability to be precise. You’ll need to insert it into the hole in your wall and screw it off, preferably at the corners. If this sounds like it’s going to be difficult, wait for the trick I’m about to give you.

Before insertion, drive a screw on the face of the board towards one side, but inside the outer edges of the rectangle. Let the screw hang out about half an inch past the face of the drywall and balance the board with the top-left or top-right corner up.

Drive the first screw, but not too tight. You’ll be using it as a rotation point holding it to the wall.

Now, you can lift the board up by the screw in the face and do the opposite corner. It’s best to go across diagonally so you have the maximum amount of support from the first two screws. Finish zipping it up with the other two screws and the hard part is done.

Now you’ll need to put in the drywall patch itself. This part is easy enough, and if you’d like you can definitely screw it off to the backing before the next step. Just place the screws near the edge.

Place fiberglass joint tape over the seams, which should be pretty tight anyways, and mud it up. Let the mud dry, sand it smooth, and you have the best repair you can make without actually removing the whole sheet and replacing it.


For what it’s worth, you might find the repair to be troublesome. You have two choices here, either hide it manually with a piece of furniture or hope that your finishing skills are up to par and try to mud, texture, and re-finish the patch-job.

The latter is a pretty simple procedure, but deserves its own guide.


Repairing drywall isn’t DIY-wizardy, it’s remarkably simple and if you give it a shot you might be surprised at how well you do. If you have the slightest hint of mechanical aptitude you can save a lot of money by doing these repairs yourself.

The main thing here is precision. Be as precise as possible, and move slowly if you have to, because the improved end results will be well worth the wait.