Introduction: Fix a Hole in Drywall

Picture of Fix a Hole in Drywall

Whether from a door knob, rambunctious kids playing, or a moving accident; a hole in drywall is an ugly eyesore. You might think that repairing this unexpected opening would require all kinds of specialized knowledge, but repairing a hole in drywall is actually very easy. Chances are, you probably have most of the stuff needed to make the repair at home already!

Step 1: Tools + Supplies

Picture of Tools + Supplies

To fix a hole in drywall we'll be cutting a plug from around the damaged drywall and replacing it with a plug of undamaged drywall. To do this, we'll use a standard hole saw of the right size. Hole saws are a useful tool and it's worth getting a set that includes multiple sizes, rather than just one.

Here's what else you'll need:

The rest of the items on this list are what most homeowners should have lying around. If you don't, then this is a good opportunity to get a few materials that will make home repair much easier the next time something like this happens.

Step 2: Size Hole Saw

Picture of Size Hole Saw

We'll start by matching a hole saw to the size of the damage in the drywall. Chose a hole saw that is as close a match in size as possible.

Step 3: Assemble Hole Saw

Picture of Assemble Hole Saw

Once you have the size of the hole saw you need you'll need to assemble the saw onto the threaded mandrel.

Every hole saw is a little different, but most will have a nut that needs to be removed before the hole saw is slipped onto the mandrel. In my hole saw, the opening in hole saws align with the asymmetrical mandrel and are seated fully before placing the nut back on and tightening, securing the hole saw in place.

Because hole saws are threaded in the same direction that the saw cuts, there's no reason to over-tighten the nut since friction will self-tighten it. Therefore, hole saw nuts can be firmly hand tightened.

Step 4: Cut Plywood Template

Picture of Cut Plywood Template

To prevent the hole saw skipping around the drywall when cutting, there needs to be a template that will support the circumference of the saw blade. I used scrap plywood.

The scrap plywood can be of any thickness, since it's only guiding the blade and keep it in place when cutting drywall.

Step 5: Drill Out Damage

Picture of Drill Out Damage

Place the template against the wall, with the opening in the template directly over the damaged drywall.

Holding the template firmly against the wall with one hand, line up the hole saw inside the template and slowly drill and push into the drywall, the template will keep the hole saw centered around the damage.

Continue drilling until you cut completely through the drywall. A clean hole will be left, with a plug of the damaged drywall in the hole saw.

Remove the template, hole saw, and any debris in and around the opening.

Step 6: Make New Plug

Picture of Make New Plug

To cover the opening in the wall we'll make a plug of drywall using the same hole saw. A great benefit of using this method is that almost any thickness drywall will work to make a new plug, it doesn't have to match the thickness of the existing drywall. If you have ½" thick drywall and a ⅜" thick sheet of scrap plywood then this method will work fine!

Keeping the drill perpendicular to the scrap piece of plywood, start drilling into the scrap but stop before going all the way through.

Your hole saw should have made it through the gypsum middle layer but not through the back paper layer. This is critical to patching the hole. If you accidentally drilled all the way through the scrap drywall find another area and drill a new plug - you'll need the backing paper to make an effective patch.

Step 7: Cut and Score Patch

Picture of Cut and Score Patch

With a sharp hobby knife cut around the partially drilled drywall scrap. Take your time and make multiple shallow cuts to cut completely through the scrap drywall.

You'll need a few inches around the partially drilled plug to make a patch.

Score radial markings from the partially drilled plug to the outside of the cut patch. The scoring doesn't have to be very deep, just enough to allow the drywall to break apart with our hands.

With a firm grip break along the scoring and remove the drywall from around the partially drilled plug, being careful to leave the paper backing in tact.

When done correctly you'll have a drywall plug with a skirt of paper attached.

Step 8: Trim and Wet Patch

Picture of Trim and Wet Patch

Trimming the corners off the patch is optional, but I think makes the patch easier to conceal without any sharp edges. I used regular scissors to make a small radius on each corner.

Using a damp rag I moistened the paper of the patch. Don't make the paper soaking wet, the idea is to have a moist paper patch which will accept the drywall compound mud.

Dab the paper with the damp rag, being careful to keep the moisture on the paper and not the drywall. Once wetted, set patch aside.

Step 9: Apply Compound to Opening

Picture of Apply Compound to Opening

Open the drywall joint compound and mix thoroughly. Using the putty knife apply a generous amount of joint compound in the opening and on the surface around the opening.

Ensure there's plenty of compound on the inside of the opening, this will be filling the gap made by the hole saw blade kerf. When the new plug is inserted it will squeeze any excess compound in behind the wall where it won't be seen, so don't worry about overdoing it here.

Step 10: Insert Patch

Picture of Insert Patch

Line up the wetted paper patch and insert with the plug inwards, leaving the paper back facing you.

Gently press the plug into the opening until fully seated and the paper backing is flush with the wall.

Use the putty knife to press from the middle of the patch outwards to squeeze out any air bubbles and make good contact between the paper skirt and the wall. Any joint compound that is pushed out from the putty knife just place back on top of the patch and continue smoothing out.

Step 11: Add Joint Compound

Picture of Add Joint Compound

Apply more joint compound with the putty knife over the patch, using the knife to smooth out the compound into even and smooth coats.

The aim here is to make a smooth transition from the existing surface of the wall to the edge of the patch. I find it's effective to alternate and make passes from the center outwards, then go back from outside the patch and make passes in towards the center.

When the patch, and more importantly the patch edges, are covered allow the joint compound to dry completely. I left the compound to dry overnight before moving on to the next step.

Step 12: Sanding

Picture of Sanding

When the joint compound is completely dry it can be sanded smooth. Attempting to sand partially dry joint compound will not work, and will make a huge clumpy mess.

Start with 120 grit sandpaper and work up to 200 grit sandpaper, removing the putty knife marks, high spots, and smoothing the joint compound to make a seamless transition from the existing wall to the patch.

After sanding clean up all dust and debris before painting.

Step 13: Paint

Picture of Paint

To cover the patch, matching paint was applied with a paint roller. Rollers are a better choice for painting large flat areas, not just because it's faster, but the finish a roller leaves is much smoother than with a brush.

If your patch was near an outlet or switch, it's best to remove the faceplate or mask with tape to prevent painting it accidentally. The more time spent on sanding the patch and joint compound to make a smooth transition will pay off after painting. Can you even tell where the patch is in the above picture?

Happy patching!


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Comments

buildandsewandstuff (author)2017-08-25

Nice job! One little tip I learned off of TV years ago, is this: when you are sanding the dry compound, periodically close your eyes and run your hand over the area. When you can no longer feel the little hump or edges, then it's perfectly flat and will not show after it's painted.

RobPaige (author)2017-08-14

If you don't have a hole saw, you can use a keyhole saw or something similar to cut the damaged section square. If you cut your replacement piece too large, you can shave it down with a utility knife.

evanandkatelyn made it! (author)2017-03-23

Really great tutorial. Pictures are so great :D Why not a patch kit though, wouldn't that be easier? The mesh type. Pretty cheap too

RobPaige (author)evanandkatelyn2017-08-14

If you have to make a trip to the hardware store to pick up supplies, the patch is definitely the way to go. If you've already got the stuff on hand, then this is easy and quick.

OK, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, that the pictures are a reenactment of the task, using your model to show your steps (there is no way her hair looks that perfect after sanding drywall compound), but I'm still calling boshee on the finished result. Not only is the last pic of the sanding task taking place AFTER the wall has been painted, but based on her distance from the corner in the last pic compared to the first 4, your model is clearly "sanding" a different spot.

Haha, my wife was out there just as much as I was, not just a model. We actually made a video on our drywall repair in our garage if you want to check it out :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCJz3JFT_HA

Watched the video...boshee claim rescinded. The "next day...sand down edges...repeat..." part makes all the difference. Nice work.

Thanks :D

BW501 (author)2017-04-14

You did not mention priming the sanded spot. Do you not need to do this before painting the repair.

Ajax4Hire (author)2017-03-23

Wow.

Initially was going to skip as I am an old hand at home repair.

I learned a new way to fix a moderate size hole in drywall. Did not think to use the careful removal of the drywall material leaving the paper for making a very study, smooth patch.

Excellent Instructable, great pictures, great details for a real repair.

Kudos(whatever a Kudo is)

jaxboy (author)Ajax4Hire2017-03-24

Actually, kudos is the singular form, and it means "accolades", or a statement of praise. "Kudo" has also become acceptable, as so many people have used it that it has become a word, but "kudos" is the word that comes from the Greek word "kydos". Just a piece of trivia I learned a few years ago. By the way, this is a very good instructable; very well written and illustrated. I use the board backing method. I haven't sanded a drywall patch in probably 15 years. What I do is very carefully feather the mud to as close to even with the wall as I can, then just before it dries, I wipe the repair with a damp sponge, and if necessary, repeat the whole process. My patches are invisible after painting.

jef400dread (author)jaxboy2017-03-30

"Just before it dries"...whats a typical time frame for the proper amount of mud to dry to the point that a damp sponge can be used?

jaxboy (author)jef400dread2017-03-30

Anywhere from 5 min to half hour. I look at the color. Wet spackling

compound is grayish; while dry, it is white. When it is nearly white or

white, I lightly touch it with my finger. If it is cool and/or dents, it

is too soon. If it feels firm, it is time to lightly rub with the

sponge. You want to just get the surface even with the surrounding area.

When the patch is bone dry, you can more vigorously "sand"with the damp

sponge.

ronfunkcompany (author)Ajax4Hire2017-03-24

Good point Ajax4Hire. I had exactly the same thoughts as you and was going to skip as well and even after a few steps thought this is overkill but then realized it's actually a really neat way of doing it.

paraquat (author)2017-03-28

Easier, faster, more robust: put a length of planed timber or plyboard through the hole, screw in place through drywall on either side of the hole. Screw your patch into the wood visible through the hole. Add jointing compound...etc

deathbyproxy (author)paraquat2017-03-28

Definitely the way the way to do it far easier your way...could not agree with you more...

Chipper Bert (author)2017-03-27

Nice instructible. And the added comments and techniques are great. Two things I might add to the tool list are a vacuum cleaner (my goodness this stuff is messy) and movie tickets to get your missus out of the house until you've done working...

mwacuff (author)2017-03-27

Just tried this yesterday. Works really well. No photo yet...

chaynes7 made it! (author)2017-03-22

Wow,never have seen a patch done this way so I had to try it. Worked out pretty well. First pic is of the initial puncture in the wall-2nd pic is the fixed wall. Sure I probably could've just have mud in and sand the hole,but wanted to try this method out. Really pleased with how it all came out. Thanks!

deluges (author)chaynes72017-03-23

Did you make the hole on purpose just so you could try this method ? ;)

chaynes7 (author)deluges2017-03-26

LOL.No that hole in the wall was all thanks to my wife.

georgemorgan (author)chaynes72017-03-27

OMG She better not read this or there will be another hole and it won't be in the wall.

georgemorgan (author)2017-03-27

Nice, very well done.

JerryS42 (author)2017-03-27

Nicely done patch and instructable! I also think a regular (and similar) square flash-patch is a valuable skill that gives you more options for bigger repairs, including stud to stud. Maybe an idea for another 'able.

robyswan (author)2017-03-23

i like this approach, but have one question - the holes i'm going to patch were where the shower curtain rail was mounted. will this patch be strong enough for me to re-mount the shower rail on it?

CPUDOCTHE1. (author)robyswan2017-03-26

No. The patch will be less strong than undamaged gypsum board. Perhaps you could make a decorative wood or metal piece that is larger than the current hole and put it over the hole (before or after you patch the hole) and then attach the curtain rod to that piece.

tlr_scott (author)robyswan2017-03-23

No - This will not work for any repair that will need to provide any kind of support. This instructable is a cosmetic patch only. What will need to be done for this repair to take any load, is to support the new piece of drywall from behind. To create the support you will place a length of wood a few inches longer than the hole is wide on the inside of the wall (generally the larger the piece the stronger). The piece of wood is then fixed in place using drywall screws (or similar) on each side of the hole. The filler piece of dry wall is the attached to the wood backer with another screw (add more for larger patch if needed - approximately 1 every 6 inches. Make sure the screws heads are a little recessed, but do not break
through the surface (you should be able to feel this with you finger or
trowel).

Note: The above steps are to be completed before applying any "mud". If you don't mind a little mess, you could apply the "mud" after
the wood is in place, but before inserting the filler piece of
drywall. If you choose to screw the drywall in place before "mudding", you will just lift the edge to of the paper to wet it and to "mud" the wall.

The patch may then be finished as shown in this instructable (there are many ways to finish drywall - the method in this instructable is suitable for a beginner or those not wanting to buy additional tools). Hope this helps.

OpticHash (author)tlr_scott2017-03-24

What kind of load are you talking about? Like a towl bar bracket or do you mean ceiling?

Also drywall screw setters are really helpful...

tlr_scott (author)OpticHash2017-03-24

This type of repair is cosmetic. Despite what people think, drywall is very strong considering its individual components. The strength however is how the parts are put together. The paper on drywall makes up a great deal of the strength; however, if the paper from one side is damaged or removed, it has very little strength. As such, the repair described in this instructable does nothing to tie the back side of the filler piece to the rest of the drywall. This allows the forces applied to that piece to only be supported buy the front/exterior piece of paper. this cause the paper to de-laminate form the core and becomes nothing more than plastered card stock. As i stated before, this type of repair is not able to bear any load - towel rods, shower rods, or any other load applying forces that push or pull on the face of the repair. The exception is that some light sheer loads may still be supported (hanging a small picture from a nail). My statements are in reference to vertical surfaces. I no way ever should this type of repair ever be used over head where the intention is to hang or support something of any size.

Mi_Tasol (author)tlr_scott2017-03-23

Phils way will work but if you are in a hurry hole saw a bigger hole (10cm/4in) and slip the longest piece of 70x20/3x3/4 pine that will fit in behind the hole with a light skim of drywall mud on it and fasten with at least two drywall screws each side (I use 4 or 5 each side) - do not over tighten, you want the screw heads JUST below the surface so that they get the maximum support from the paper. The wood may be at a strange angle and need the ends cut at angles but length is strength.

Pre-cut a 10cm/4in diameter plug and fit it to the hole while the drywall mud is still wet with two or three screws to ensure it sits flat. Firmly force the mud into the remaining slot and the centre hole then put a light skim over the top of the whole area. Using a damp sponge gently remove all the surplus from around the screws and plug and then off the top of the screws and plug leaving the slightest amount of surplus so that you minimise your sanding and refilling.

Let everything dry fully before sanding. Your shower curtain is now attached with screws, 30mm (1 1/4in) longer than your curtain fitting thickness, to the wood behind the drywall and that being well bonded to the drywall ensures it will not move.

robyswan (author)Mi_Tasol2017-03-24

this approach makes sense, in that i'm certain the repair will be strong enough - especially using longer screws to anchor to the timber backing. thanks to all you knowledgeable folks out there. this is a very welcoming community you have created here. - 'kudos' ;)

PhilS43 (author)tlr_scott2017-03-23

Totally agree tir_scott

This topic has been on here before.

Absolutely
essential to get some support on the backside of the hole - if it's not
foil-backed plasterboard, just stick a couple of strips of ply on the
backside with Gripfill - use some screws in the ply to get them
positioned, allow 24-hrs to cure. Fix your patching piece to the ply
with plasterboard adhesive or Gripfill, then skim over. If you want to,
put some permanent screws into the "good" plasterboard and the patch.

Done loads of these to pull cables through etc.

MichaelH820 (author)robyswan2017-03-23

I wouldnt suggest remounting anything back unless you had too. If you are not going to be putting too much weight on the shower rail and need to put it back at the same spot It should hold fine. The paper mesh around the hole should hold it as long as the paint was dry.

baldy444 (author)2017-03-24

Not the way I've been doing it for near 50 years , ---my way finger in hole clean burst paper off back as much as pos, thin ply or similar to slide through hole, smack nail hole in centre string through it looped round a nail at back , pva glue inner edge then hot glue outer, quick through hole & pull back. A hole put into piece of Drywall big enough to fill slide over stringwith glue behind .

Fill with trowel putting paper or mesh over or none at all pulling string & leave to dry. After cut strings & refill & sand. Worst case is glue at back not fixing but keeping string tight essential in case that happens. Rougher job perhaps but backing is more important than front reinforcing paper

stephane275 (author)2017-03-24

cool way to make a plug , but you need to put a strip of wood behind to give it strength and stop the chalk from falling of into the wall.

holbrook4hire (author)2017-03-24

Great tutorial, would have never thought of making a guide for cutting the hole. I was surprised you didn't say to paint it with primer it prior to the actual painting with color. You'll be able to see where you patched if you don't.

DonnH1 (author)2017-03-23

I have had success repairing large holes by cutting away the damaged drywall and then installing a patch through the hole buttered up with some glue. You pull that forward against the backside of the wall and hold it in place somehow. Actually I used contact cement. Once that is in place you can cut and fit a patch for the space that is the hole, buttering it in with some spat hinge compound. I mention this because I repaired a wall where an oil heater was placed too close and it damaged the wall. This worked pretty well for a larger area than a door knob. This method looks pretty good but I still think I would prefer some sort of backing and the contact cement was pure magic.

Doofy (author)2017-03-23

I like the hole saw technique to simplify making the plug and will try that out next time, but I need more support behind the patch. As a landlord, I've had to repair quite a bit of door handle damage and need the repair to be sturdy.

What works best for me is to cut a section of wooden paint stirrer sticks(usually FREE at your local home improvement store) that extends past the hole a couple inches on both ends. I use the 5gal bucket sticks because they are thicker than the 1gal sticks. I place in hole, predrill to avoid splitting wood and secure with drywall screws. I remove the paper backing on plug so that it sits a touch below level, slather all connecting surfaces with patch mud and taper hole edge with a 100-120 grit sanding screen. Like tapered drywall edges, this will allow for a level finish.

jcrolfes (author)Doofy2017-03-23

The approach with a piece of wood overlapping the hole on the inside with screws holding the wood on the sides and patch in the center is a MUCH better method. You have much greater flexibility in matching the size of the patch to the damage and don't have nearly as much drywall feathering to do since the patch sits level with the existing wall. I cut the patch out using a utility knife to score the edges which makes the patch prep very easy. Then trace the patch over the hole and cut out the damaged portion with a drywall saw. You do need to be careful to make sure you don't hit anything inside the wall of course.

cwik (author)2017-03-23

The (cheap) way I've always been told is to inflate a balloon inside the wall just enough so that it hold itself there without sticking out of the hole, and then you have something to apply putty to.

jtalvy (author)cwik2017-03-23

Very clever! I will have to remember that one!

LoganB22 (author)2017-03-23

you just saved my life with this one. I didn't think about reversing the drywall patch and matching it to the hole with the paper backing. I have 6 holes, different sizes to patch. I have the drywall, just need to do squares and rectangles for measure. I used to punch holes a lot.

cdavenport (author)2017-03-23

Love this! Thanks for the idea! I've got plenty of holes to fill. LOL!

sierbeeld (author)2017-03-23

We use a similar method, in my opinion easier and faster. Drill a hole with the same hole saw cutting out the damage. Also make a patch from a new piece drywall. Now take a piece of wood, plywood or pine, bigger than the cutout and mount this price behind the hole with two screws, beside the hole. Than mount the patch in the hole onto the piece of wood. Now you easily can finish the damage the two new screws included with drywall compound and paint it...

mrfinney11950 (author)sierbeeld2017-03-23

Been using that method for many years. It always worked for me . Still gonna try this out next time.

OmarJ3 (author)sierbeeld2017-03-23

Have done it this way among others, having worked on old houses. What you are saying is to make a dummy (1" x 1-1/2") softwood furring strip that is longer (say, 3") than the hole, and sliding it in behind. Then hold it in position across the hole, drive & countersink two drywall screws through the wall & into the wood. Now you have a "bridge" with which to attach/support the patch, which can be any convenient shape. Then fit the patch & anchor it with drywall screw(s), finish in usual way.

Some time ago I did a repair where a plumber cut through a ceiling section about 2' x 3' which severed three furring strips. The solution was to bridge the furrings by joining with 3/4" x 3/4" corner angles (normally used on drywall corners). There are so many approaches/solutions, depending on the situation. Attaching a rough sketch.

mrfinney11950 (author)2017-03-23

Good job. Definitely gonna try this next time I need to repair a wall. Must say though, it has been a while . Maybe because the kids are all gone! But wait I'll bet I need this for the grand kids! Just having a little fun here but seriously your idea is great. Thank you

TDJ2591 (author)2017-03-23

Excellent idea and clear presentation. I would never have thought of using the paper on the patch instead of drywall tape. Could you could also remove a matching sized piece of paper from the drywall aroundd the hole and further minimize the muddling g and sanding.

TDJ2591 (author)TDJ25912017-03-23

i just patched a ceiling and wall from roof leak damage. I always seem to sand thru the drywall tape and end up with a fuzzy tape and more muddling to cover it. What's my problem? Am I putting too little mud on for the first coat?

RicksterInstructables (author)2017-03-23

Nice idea.

Only thing I'd add:

The way you have shown (dry plug pushed into hole), I doubt it has any significant bond between the plug and hole and is relying on the paper alone (I don't think the mud in the hole is going to stick to the dry dusty edge of the plug).

If you moisten the the gypsum edges of both the hole and patch plug and rub (by finger or whatever) some mud into the gypsum, you'll get a better bond of the patch plug to the hole.

It's (almost) always better to put any type of "adhesive" on both surfaces before "bonding".

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