After the Flood: How To Repair Drywall Water Damage Step by Step

water stain on drywall ceiling

Water damage really does a number on properties across the country. What’s more, you don’t even need an entire flood for water to damage your home. A leaking roof or even condensation from your air conditioner is enough to do extensive damage to your drywall and your floor too.

Damaged drywall is never a good look for your guests. While we may do our best to prevent drywall water damage, some scenarios are beyond our control. Flash floods and hurricanes are a few cases where it's impossible to prevent water damage.

This piece is a step by step guide on how to repair your drywall after water damage. So you can get your squeaky white drywalls back and restore your home to its original glory.

What Causes Drywall Damage?

Water is the chief culprit when it comes to drywall damage. How this water gets to the drywall is what you first need to understand.

What makes water so detrimental to drywall is because of the drywall's composition. Drywall consists of two sheets of paper that sandwich a gypsum sheet. The porosity of these materials is what makes drywall so susceptible to water damage.

No one needs an explanation as to how water from a flood damages your drywall. Here are some not-so-obvious ways that water damages your drywall:-

  • Damage from pipes like burst or leaking pipes
  • Heavy condensation from the outside or your air conditioner
  • Leaks in the attic, foundation, and the roof

In this piece, however, we’ll mainly focus on repairing water damage to your drywall from floods. Aside from self-repair, you can check the flood insurance cost to find out whether opting for flood insurance is a good choice than the DIY approach.

However, worry not, this guide applies across the board, so it doesn’t really matter the cause of water damage.

Signs of Drywall Water Damage

Before you can repair your drywall, you need to establish whether it is damaged conclusively. There are some obvious signs and some subtle signs of drywall damage. The extent of damage will determine whether you should repair or completely replace your drywall.

Here are some signs of drywall damage you should look out for:-

1. Stains and discoloration

This staining and discoloration is the reason why most homeowners can’t stand drywall water damage. The wet areas will usually look darker than the rest of the places.

This staining may appear like irregularly shaped splotches that may sometimes have a yellowish tinge. The stains are more prominent in cases of water damage due to floods because of the water volume.

2. Peeling paint

No, it’s not the quality of the paint. It’s your waterlogged drywall that’s causing the paint to peel off. The same applies to wallpaper, water damage to your drywall makes wallpaper peel off. This peeling is because when water comes into contact with the adhesive material on wallpaper, it causes it to detach from the wall. This peeling also applies to paint despite paint not having any adhesive.

3. Sagging walls

Sagging walls are a telltale sign of extensive drywall water damage. The presence of water significantly weakens the drywall causing it to buckle and droop. The likelihood of the wall breaking down after sagging is very high.

4. Bubbles

Bubbles are like zits on your wall and are never a good look. These tiny protuberances are an indicator of water in your drywall but not a lot of it.

How to Repair Your Drywall after Water Damage

Now that you know how to check for water damage. Let’s get to the good stuff. Before you get your tools and overall, you first have to decide whether you should repair or replace your drywall entirely.

As a rule of thumb, first, poke your drywall using your thumb or index finger. If the drywall still feels firm and rigid, then all you need to do is repair it. If, however, the drywall sinks and feels soft, then you might need to replace the damaged parts of your drywall. 

That said, here is how you repair your drywall step by step:-

1. Cut Out the Damaged Parts

You may not need to remove your drywall in case of water damage completely. Just cut out the damaged parts with a keyhole saw, and you’re good to go.

The ideal way to cut out these damaged parts is in squares or rectangles. Doing so makes it easier to fill in the cut out patches. Don’t worry about cutting out extra areas because of the shape; you’ll be happy with your decision when filling in the drywall.

While cutting, ensure you’re on the lookout for any pipes or wiring. Cutting these two fixtures creates another heap of problems.

2. Try Joint Compound for Small Amounts of Water damage

If the damage isn’t extensive, you can use joint compound on these areas with minimal damage. The joint compound is especially ideal for those bubbly areas that are an eyesore. Just scrape the bubbling area with a knife.

Use joint compound to cover the damaged parts. Apply the joint compound slowly and diligently. You don’t want to scrape off the bubbling areas only to leave an uglier looking mess in its place.

3. Use Paper Tape or Mesh Tape for the Seams

You may want to use mesh tape over paper tape when it comes to repairing drywall. Paper tape isn’t so easy to use, and you might require a bit of practice to get it right. Mesh tape, on the other hand, is easier to use and is also self-adhesive.

Professionals, however, prefer paper tape because it serves its purpose better than mesh tape. Apart from the tapes, you can always use mud instead. It’s pretty easy, and you don’t even need to be an expert.

First, cover the joint and apply the seam generously over the cover. Smear some more mud to blend the seams with the rest of the wall. Leave it for about two days to dry completely, and you’re good to go.

Replacement Is Still a Viable Option

Remember, if the drywall water damage is too much, you can always consider replacing it. You don’t have to do it yourself, you can get professionals on the case. Hopefully, you’re all set to repair your drywall now after flood damage.

Check out our other articles for more informative pieces.


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