Fix a Hole in Drywall

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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84 Discussions

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bk99

Question 8 months ago

You have a typo I think. Where you write "Keeping the drill perpendicular to the scrap piece of plywood, start drilling into the scrap but stop before going all the way through." You write PLYWOOD, but for that step you mean DRYWALL instead, right?.

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MichaelAtOz

Tip 8 months ago

Step 1: Tools (Torch/Flashlight, rubber glove), look into hole to see if any wiring or plumbing is in the vicinity, use rubber glove to feel around the inside for the same.

A friend was drilling a hole in the ceiling, the drill grabbed the wire, all he heard was this noise across the ceiling as the slack tightened, drill stopped, fell of the chair...bigger repair...

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robyswan

1 year ago

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?

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CPUDOCTHE1.robyswan

Reply 1 year ago

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.

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kelly7CPUDOCTHE1.

Reply 8 months ago

You can also make a wood mount for the rod

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tlr_scottrobyswan

Reply 1 year ago

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.

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OpticHashtlr_scott

Reply 1 year ago

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...

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tlr_scottOpticHash

Reply 1 year ago

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.

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Mi_Tasoltlr_scott

Reply 1 year ago

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.

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robyswanMi_Tasol

Reply 1 year ago

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' ;)

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PhilS43tlr_scott

Reply 1 year ago

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.

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MichaelH820robyswan

Reply 1 year ago

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.

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Chipper Bert

1 year ago

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...

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kelly7Chipper Bert

Reply 8 months ago

Don’t use reg vac though the fine dust will kill reg motors try to only use shop vac they have a heavier collection system

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BW501

1 year ago

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

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kelly7BW501

Reply 8 months ago

Primer is just a flat latex so unless it’s a special surface two coats of regular paint are fine, your first coat is your prime

I love your idea of making a guide template to guide the hole saw into the drywall. Why did I never think of thus idea??

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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.

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RobPaige

1 year ago

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.