Introduction: How to Fix Drywall (Save MUCHO Dinero)

True story:

I paid my handyman $600 to fix a 4 x 4 foot section of ceiling.

That was 9 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, my handyman is awesome.

But sometimes money is tight, REAL tight.

And paying $600 or more isn’t doable.

So I learned how to fix drywall myself.

Today you’ll see how to fix drywall ceilings and do it relatively fast.

These are empowering skills…PLUS there’s an amazing giveaway (I’m super excited about this one!!).

You’ll need these supplies

  • Drywall Saw
  • Drywall Scrap (size depends on your fix)
  • Drywall Screws (1 1/4 inch for 1/2 inch drywall)
  • Drywall T-Square (optional)
  • Drywall Bit for Drill or Driver
  • Impact Driver
  • Milwaukee Hole Cutter (only if you have recessed lights)
  • Respirator
  • Setting Type Joint Compound
  • Fiberglass Mesh Tape or
  • Paper Tape
  • Putty Knife
  • 6 Inch Drywall Knife
  • 10 Inch Drywall Knife
  • 12 Inch Drywall Knife
  • Mud Pan
  • Step Stool
  • Purdy Paint Brush
  • Purdy Rollers
  • Paint Brush Roller
  • Primer (Kilz is the Best)
  • Paint for Ceiling (flat paint hides imperfections)
  • Tape Measure
  • Utility Knife
  • This is a long list, I totally get it. BUT you’ll save more money than you’ll spend. And this is a great excuse to get a new impact driver, haha. Let’s start.

Step 1: Measure Thickness of Existing Drywall

Measure the thickness of your existing drywall or plaster.

I had to deal with two different sizes of drywall.

On the left side of the joist there was 1/2″ and on the right side there was 5/8″ drywall.

This is a true pain in the BUTT but you’ll see how to deal with it.

Step 2: Shut Off Electrical

If you have electricity in your ceiling turn off the circuit breaker.

I had to remove a recessed light fixture in our kitchen.

It was smack in the middle of the repair.

HUGE TIP:

Take a picture of your light’s wiring.

When it’s time to reinstall the light you’ll know exactly what to do (and will avoid a call to the electrician, that is if your electrical was done correctly).

Cap the wires and push the electrical lines safely into the ceiling.

Try to avoid having them touch any copper or metal (just in case!!)

Step 3: Measure Hole

Measure the widest length and width of your hole.

Step 4: Cut New Drywall

Cut out a new piece of drywall.

It should cover the hole in your ceiling.

Step 5: Dry Fit Drywall

Dry fit the new drywall over your hole.

Trace around the new drywall with a marker.

Step 6: Cut Along Traced Lines

Cut along your traced guide with a drywall saw.

Use a shop vac to suck up some of the dust…although this is a futile effort at times, haha.

Step 7: Remove Screws or Nails

Remove the screws or nails that remain in the joist.

Step 8: Add Blocking

Add extra blocking in your ceiling to support your new drywall.

In this case I used 2 x 2 inch wood framing.

There’s more detail in the video on how I did this (actually, there are a lot of details in the video :D).

Step 9: Mark Framing Location

Mark the location of the framing and blocking on the perimeter of the hole.

Now it’s time to hang the drywall.

Step 10: Use Dimple Bit

Most of the time I’m by myself when hanging drywall.

So the tips here will help you a ton if you’re in the same predicament.

Drywall screws should be slightly below the drywall.

You can accomplish this by using a dimple bit.

Step 11: Place Screws at Corners

Place 4 drywall screws at the corners of your new drywall.

I forgot to mention this in the video!!!

When you dry fit the new piece of drywall, place a mark on one side and a corresponding mark on the adjacent ceiling.

This will help you line up the new drywall…small tip but super helpful.

Step 12: Attach Drywall to Framing

Attach your new drywall to the framing.

Step 13: Mark Position of Lights

In the video you’ll see me fiddling with a laser.

The laser helped me line up the location of the recessed lights.

Basically I shot the laser across the ceiling and through the other recessed lights.

Then used it find the exact location for my new hole.

Step 14: Cut Recessed Light Hole

While at Home Depot I spotted an adjustable hole cutter by Milwaukee.

This is one of those tools you instantly love.

It adjusts to cut 2 to 7 inch holes in drywall.

The best part: the attachable shield catches all the dust!!!

(my wife likes this tool, can you guess why?)

Once the drywall is hung it’s time to mud and add texture.

This is where it gets interesting…and a bit artsy as my daughters like to say.

Step 15: Use Mesh Tape

Some might think I’m nuts.

But for textured ceilings I prefer to use fiberglass mesh tape at the seams.

Step 16: Apply Mesh Tape to Seams

Why?

It’s stronger and more flexible than paper tape.

If the ceiling wasn’t textured I’d likely use paper tape.

Add mesh tape to all 4 sides of the drywall.

Step 17: Apply Easy Sand 5

Apply a thin layer of 5 minute setting type joint compound to the mesh tape.

Step 18: Cover Tape With Easy Sand 5

You only need enough joint compound to cover the tape.

Don’t worry, I show you the details in the video.

Step 19: Apply Second Coat of Joint Compound

Once the 5 minute joint compound is dry, you can use Easy Sand 20 to get a second coat of joint compound.

Notice how the joint compound is only on one half of my 10 inch knife.

This was to fill in the difference in depth between the new and old drywall.

Step 20: Knock Down High Spots

Easy Sand 20 sets up in 20-30 minutes depending on the temp and humidity.

Which is nice because you severely cut down on the time of the repair.

If you’re applying thin coats of joint compound you won’t need to sand much.

A moist drywall sponge cuts down on the dust.

Also, knock down any high spots or bumps with your drywall knife.

This is definitely a process.

And I’ve got a ton of great tips in today’s video…including how to texture.

Step 21: Watch the Video

Here’s the deal:

there’s a AWESOME surprise giveaway at the end of the video

Seriously, you’ll love this (especially if you’re a tool junkie like me)

What do you think?

Could you do this project?

I sure hope so.

You’ll save gobs of dinero learning how to fix drywall. Take my word for it, haha.

Making tutorials is only fun because of you.

So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading, watching, and adding your knowledge to the discussion.

Cheers,

Jeff

Comments

author
pinkbubblebath made it! (author)2016-05-21

What happened to the cat that was up there...watching you?

author
tinaciousz made it! (author)2016-04-22

This should be entered in the Home Hacks contest for sure. www.instructables.com/contest/homehacks/

author
HomeRepairTutor made it! (author)HomeRepairTutor 2016-05-18

Thanks :)

author
pjmanyun made it! (author)2016-04-22

Wow, thank so much for posting. My son threw a chair at his wall, and I need to patch a fairly large section. This will save me at least $500. Nice impact driver by Milwaukee, too!

author
HomeRepairTutor made it! (author)HomeRepairTutor 2016-05-18

Good project for you and your son. I'm hoping to teach my daughters drywall basics down the road...which will be here before you know it. You can definitely save a lot of money DIYing wall repairs.

author
NYT1 made it! (author)2016-04-26

Nice Job Jeff! We recently purchased a "new to us" home, with some surprises that the previous homeowner was kind enough to leave behind. There evidently was a leak in the line to the septic. They tore apart parts of the ceiling in the garage (no idea what method they used to determine why they tore large, odd shaped pieces of drywall) and left it like that. Next, they cut holes in the ceiling of the laundry room. 2 holes to be exact; one to feed the dryer vent up and into, and one for the exit of the dryer vent hose to connect to the outside vent. A definite fire hazard waiting to happen!

So I too have some odd ceiling repairs of drywall to accomplish, and looked to your instructable to give me the extra knowledge needed to tackle the job!

author
tinaciousz made it! (author)tinaciousz2016-05-06

Good luck to you!

author
HomeRepairTutor made it! (author)HomeRepairTutor 2016-05-18

Thanks, it wasn't all that bad and the ceiling is good to go.

author
HomeRepairTutor made it! (author)HomeRepairTutor 2016-05-18

Glad this helped. Let me know if you have any questions. These surprises are never fun but totally doable fixes.

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Bio: I love home improvement and enjoy sharing what I know on YouTube and my website Home Repair Tutor. Everything I do is self taught or ... More »
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