How To Fix a Hole in the Wall

Plaster and Drywall Repair Tips

Patching holes in drywall

You have a son or daughter with anger management problems. Your overambitious husband has successfully hammered a hole large enough for twenty nails to fill. You bought a house and discovered there WAS a reason why the sellers left the couch against the wall until the final walk-through. Whatever the scenario-you have a hole in your wall that needs patching.    

Here are some ways to remedy this eyesore:

  1. How big? How large is the hole? If it is, say, smaller than a fist, you can use a quick method of repair. If it is a little larger (knee or foot size), you will need to do some more prep work.
  2. What material? What is your wall made of? It is unlikely that you've punched through brick, so your choices are usually drywall, plaster, or some sort of paneling.
  3. Where is it located? If your hole is in the ceiling, you will be fighting against gravity. how to fix holes in wallsIf it is in the wall in a prominent place (eye level), you will want to make sure you do a good patching job. If it is near the floor, the eye is less likely to catch the problem.
  4. Tools and materials: You will need some sort of plaster material-joint compound and E-Z Sand are two good options. A drywall trowel, some adhesive tape, and perhaps some loose drywall pieces or wood might be necessary as well. Oh, and don't forget the sandpaper, primer and paint for the final touches. 
  5. Small hole. Many houses have drywall-sheetrock with some joint compound and tape holding it together. Drywall is not easily damaged, but is a little more vulnerable than plaster that is put over blueboard. So if you don't have plaster walls, drywall repair may be something you'll need to become familiar with as a home owner. A small hole in drywall can be patched with joint compound or another plaster substance. E-Z Sand is a powder that turns into a plaster paste when mixed with water. This substance, when applied, dries faster than joint compound. Apply joint compound, E-Z Sand, or another plaster mixture to the hole with a joint compound trowel. Fill the hole and scrape the excess off so that you have a relatively even surface. Allow for a little extra plaster to sit above the hole-but not too much. Let dry. Use a drywall sanding block or a fine sandpaper (120-200 grit) and lightly sand until the surface is even.
  6. Larger hole. You may be wondering how to fix a big hole in the wall. If it is as large as a fist it will need more prep work. You will need to fill it with a solid substance-not just plaster. Plaster will fill the hole, but it will take several applications and longer drying periods to achieve a flat wall. If it is uneven and cracking bits of the wall, take a screwdriver and chip away the wall until there is a relatively clean hole. Cut either a piece of wood or drywall to size, and place inside. Using adhesive tape, tape the filler to the wall on all sides. Apply a thin coat of plaster over the hole and feather in the patch with the wall. Let dry. Lightly sand and reapply if necessary. The object is to make the patch flow into the rest of the wall. It may take several applications to achieve this.
  7. Even larger hole. If you have a very large and deep hole, you will most definitely want to fill it with something other than plaster. Make the hole as even (square) as possible with a screwdriver. Cut a piece of sheetrock or blueboard to size, and perform the same method as above-this time, though, screw in the filler. Ideally your hole will fall in front of a stud or strapping that you can easily screw into. If it does not, you will need to screw a piece of wood into the wall so that your sheetrock has a solid backing. Never try to use just tape and joint compound for large patches-it will not do. After you have screwed in the filler, repeat the steps that you would follow for a smaller patch.
  8. Finishing touch: Prime and paint. Once you repair a hole in the wall, it's time to apply some finishing touches. It is always a good idea to have an extra can of paint that matches your walls lying around the basement or utility closet. You never know when it might come in handy. Most people believe they will remember the color of their paint years later, but in most cases, the linen whites, Navajo whites, and Decorator whites all blend into one memory. You can get a chip of the paint and bring it to your nearest hardware store for a match-but this is not always foolproof. When you are done patching the hole, no matter how big it was, always prime and paint.
  9. Other option: Wallpaper. If you have several holes or cracks, you can consider wallpapering. This is not recommended for a permanent fix, however, it may remedy some eyesores found in the closet or a mudroom.

Hopefully the above will help you solve your wall patching woes. It is a good idea to have a licensed contractor look at any holes, and especially cracks, that look suspicious. Some might be the result of structural problems-problems a little joint compound or wallpaper will not fix.


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