Drywall Repair: How to Repair Drywall

No matter how big or small it is, a hole in the wall is an unsightly blemish that won’t go away by itself. Watch this video to learn how to fix everything from small nail pops, to large gaping holes in drywall.



  1. How to Repair Drywall - Step 1

    Clean hole with blade knife. Cut at an angle so the exterior of the hole is bigger than the interior.

  2. How to Repair Drywall - Step 2

    Fill the hole with painter’s putty. Make it level with the wall surface.

  3. How to Repair Drywall - Step 3

    Let it dry. Once dry, lightly sand the area until smooth.

  4. How to Repair Drywall - Step 4

    Spackle over the putty. You may need to repeat this step.

  5. How to Repair Drywall - Step 5

    For medium holes, use a drywall metal patch.

  6. How to Repair Drywall - Step 6

    Sand the surface smooth around the hole.

  7. How to Repair Drywall - Step 7

    Wipe off dust.

  8. How to Repair Drywall - Step 8

    Peel paper backing off the patch. Firmly press patch in place with mesh facing outward.

  9. How to Repair Drywall - Step 9

    Spread drywall compound over the patch, feathering out the edges. Smooth out and let dry.

  10. How to Repair Drywall - Step 10

    Gently sand surface until smooth with the wall. Repeat step 9 and 10 until the patch can no longer be detected.

  11. How to Repair Drywall - Step 11

    Larger holes need patches made of drywall. Make sure it is the same thickness as the drywall already present.

  12. How to Repair Drywall - Step 12

    Cut a square of drywall slightly larger than the hole. Score one side with a blade knife and snap it apart. Cut the back of the break line.

  13. How to Repair Drywall - Step 13

    Draw an outline of the patch around the hole using a pencil.

  14. How to Repair Drywall - Step 14

    Check for electrical cords and plumbing lines where you plan the cut.

  15. How to Repair Drywall - Step 15

    Use a drywall saw to cut out the drawn area.

  16. How to Repair Drywall - Step 16

    Screw in two wooden boards behind the drywall, one at the top and one at the bottom of the hole. This will keep the patch from falling through.

  17. How to Repair Drywall - Step 17

    Screw the drywall patch to the wooden boards.

  18. How to Repair Drywall - Step 18

    Spread drywall compound and add mesh.

  19. How to Repair Drywall - Step 19

    Sand area and repeat steps 18 and 19 until the patch is undetectable.

  20. How to Repair Drywall - Step 20

    Paint over once it’s dry.

Read Video Transcript

Repairing a hole in your drywall may seem like a challenge if you’ve never done it before. But it’s not that difficult if you have the right tools and materials, as well as knowledge of the proper techniques. And the best place to find everything you need for your project, as well as the necessary know-how, is at your local independent home improvement retailer.

Today, I’m going to show you how to fix holes in your wall, whether they are small, medium or large in size. First, we’ll show you how to assess the situation and determine what type of patch you’ll need. Then we’ll teach you the proper techniques to make it look like nothing ever happened in the first place. So let’s get started.

To fix a hole in your wall generally requires some type of patch to cover the hole, whether it is a metal patch like the one I’m holding here, or another piece of drywall like this. In addition to the patch, you need drywall patching compound to smooth out the patch and a putty knife to spread the drywall compound over the patch. Be sure to check out the Tools and Materials Checklist for everything you’ll need. You may also want to pull up our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this project before you get started.

The most common type of drywall repair actually doesn’t require a patch. It involves fixing a small hole. For this type of repair, you first need to clean out the hole with a blade knife, angling your cut to make the front of the hole larger than the back. This will give the compound more surface to adhere to.

Next, fill the hole with drywall compound or painter’s putty using a putty knife to smooth it out, and make it level with the wall surface. Let it dry and sand it smooth. In this step we’re using a lightweight spackling that goes on pink and turns white when it’s dry, which lets you know it’s ready for sanding. Whether you’re using drywall compound, spackling or painters’ putty, they all have a tendency to shrink as they dry, so you will need to repeat the process several times before the hole is properly filled.

The easiest way to repair a medium-size hole in drywall is to use an adhesive-backed metal patch. These come in various sizes depending on the size of the hole you’re trying to fix. To start this repair, first sand the surface smooth around the hole so the adhesive mesh will easily stick to the surface of the wall. After you’re finished sanding, wipe off any dust.

Next, peel the paper backing off the back of the patch and place it over the hole so that the mesh surface faces outward. Firmly press the patch in place around the edges of the hole.

Using a putty knife, spread drywall compound over the entire patch, feathering out the edges beyond the patch onto the wall. Allow the compound to dry and sand it smooth. Then repeat the process, each time spreading it a little further out from the edges of the patch.

Smoothing out the edges of the drywall compound flush with the surface of the wall is called feathering. The wider you feather out the edges from the edge of the patch, the smoother the end result will be.

Keep in mind that to get a smooth finish, it takes repeating the process two or maybe even three times, letting it dry and sanding it smooth between each step. The key is to be patient. You don’t want to apply too much compound, or sand too much away, in any one step. The patching process is complete when you have a smooth finish, and when the patch can’t be detected.

Larger holes in a wall require a patch made of drywall, which is also commonly referred to as wall board or gypsum board. The key to this type of repair is to make sure your drywall patch is the same thickness as the drywall used in your wall. The drywall in most homes is ½-inch thick. But double check the thickness of your existing drywall before heading to your local independent home improvement retailer. This is one time when it’s handy to have a hole in the wall.

Now it’s time to cut a patch. First, cut a piece of drywall that is slightly larger than the hole you are trying to repair. Even a piece of scrap drywall will work, as long as it has straight edges. To cut the drywall, you can either cut it with the drywall saw or use a blade knife to score and snap it, scoring the front using the blade knife and a straight edge, then snapping it in two pieces. You’ll also need to score the back along the snap line.

Next, place the drywall patch over the hole in the wall and trace the shape on the wall with a pencil. Be sure to check for any electrical wires or plumbing lines that might be located behind the wall where you will be cutting. If there are no electrical or plumbing lines present, use a drywall saw to punch a hole through the drywall along your line. Then cut out the shape you traced. If electrical wires or plumbing lines are present, you may want to call an electrician or a plumber as a precautionary measure.

The trick to this repair is screwing wooden cleats, like these, inside the hole along the edges. They need to be longer than the width of the hole. Place some construction adhesive on the ends of the cleats before screwing them to the hole using drywall screws. Be careful that the screws don’t break the paper surface of the drywall. You only want the screw to dimple the drywall like you see here.

Now, screw your drywall patch to the wooden cleats, again being careful not to break the drywall’s paper coating.

Apply a thin layer of drywall compound to the seams and cover with mesh tape, bedding the tape in the drywall compound. Then apply some more drywall compound to completely cover the tape. Let it dry, then apply more drywall compound, feathering the edges as you go. Like we did for the patches we discussed earlier, it will take several coats, as well as a light sanding, between each coat. This is how to achieve a smooth finish that is virtually undetectable.

All you have to do now is prime the patch using a drywall primer then paint the patch to match the existing wall color. If you don’t have paint to match, be sure to watch our video on selecting the right type of paint. There you have it. That’s how to make an unsightly hole in your wall disappear before your very eyes.

If you have questions about this or any other home improvement project, be sure to read our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this video. And be sure to print out our Project Instructions, which includes a Tools and Materials checklist, before visiting your local independent home improvement retailer. That’s where you’ll find all the products and helpful advice to complete your project. If you’re not sure where to find your local store, check out our Store Locator.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.

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47 responses to “Drywall Repair: How to Repair Drywall”

  1. Kerry says:

    I recently hang an entire basement ceiling, used mesh tape,, reduced dust mud. After finishing and primer painting, a small hairline crack has appeared in every Seam. Any ideas as to how and repair this? I’ repainted it with primer numerous times but after drying the cracks reappear. Any thoughts?

    • Lac says:

      Use thinner coats of the dry wall compound. Wait until completely dry in between coats and then add another one. The thicker the coat the more prone to cracking

  2. Love the step by step layout, thank you for posting with us. I also work with drywall repairs for my Chandler company:
    Chandler Drywall & Repair

  3. Sherry says:

    I also have had small hairline cracks appear in the seams. I too have painted with primer and cracks reappear. What am I doing wrong?

  4. Amy tabor says:

    I recently tried to repair a few nail holes and bad places in the wall and it seemed then more I did the worse it got! Just when I would thibknit ws readomy to orime or I did. Prime it I d find paint peeling off mud peeling off tape from formed owners peeling off on places I never touched this is making me fell like the movie money oitnthis small way paint job has turned into one long expensive nightmare I’d have been better off tonhire done. I see now rape throughout the house on walls I will not be painting the rest of this home

  5. I had no idea that the hole needed to be cleaned before hand. We happen to have a major hole in the drywall in our basement. I definitely think that we should find a professional that could patch it up for us.

  6. Ralph Garcia says:

    What is meant by the term feathering ?

    • Elizabeth Bromley says:

      Feathering is the spreading of compound out towards the edges from thick on the inside to the thinnest on the edges.

  7. ivy says:

    I broke en a peice of the celing and if I ask my parentsfor money theyll ask why I cant lie how can I fix it without spending money or letting my parents find out

    • Xine says:

      If the ceiling is white just put a piece of computer paper over it, put the tape on the side sticking to the ceiling. If the ceiling is not white, use construction paper that color to cover it.

      • Matt macmaster (arnprior Ontario) says:

        Are you fucking stupid ? Maybe a real solution answer would be proper rather than telling the guy to stick printer paper to the fucking ceiling. Have fun with future repairs you fucking dumbass. Maybe try some drywall tape and drywall mud. Sand until smooth , then repaint. But you know construction paper and printer paper work too, good luck.

    • Elizabeth Bromley says:

      Not to lecture you, but as a parent I would rather my child tell me the truth than find out on my own that they tried to hide it. Trust me, if they find a piece of paper or some shoddy repair without hearing from you first, it won’t end well for you. You sound like you have enough of a moral compass not to lie to them. So why not fess up? They might be mad or disappointed in the short-term, but will appreciate the honesty–even more if you apologize and offer to repair it properly with their help and not in secret.

  8. Corporate Business Lover says:

    I’m going to home depot

  9. Chris says:

    Most associates at home depot couldn’t tell you the proper way to fix damaged drywall.

  10. Ken Bass says:

    The cutting of the dry wall bigger than the hole and using 1×2 furring strips for backing is the best way for larger holes. 4 inches on up. Cute the furring strips longer than the hole bye 6″ for the backing leaving 3″ to screw to on top and bottom of patch. Using paper tape instead of the fiber tape. I have had problems with the fiber tape cracking. on patching Fibertape should be used with a Fast setting compound. (fast set or smooth set). Comes in 5 20 45 minutes setting times and can be wet sanded use two to three thin coats for best results and lightly wet sand mainly around the edges. Texture as needed.

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  12. Very good article, I’ve actually sent it to 2 customers who asked how they could attempt a repair before calling us in.

  13. Doug says:

    Hello, my Dad recently passed away and after going through his house I noticed that up near the ceiling in a few rooms it looks like they might have used some sort of tape that extends down the wall about an inch and up onto the ceiling as well. It has separated both from the wall and the ceiling at different areas. I hope I’m giving you an accurate description of what it looks like and I would like to ask you what’s the best way to repair those areas without going through a major repair job? Thanks for any help you can offer me

  14. Very impressive! Your step by step DIY ideas are very good. It helps me to understand easily know more on how to handle drywall repairs as easy as that. Thank you so much!

  15. Well I have no idea… Definitely I think that we need to find an expert to help us..

  16. Wow, its really nice post. thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipe. Well done.I never thought of this. Thanks for pointing it out. This is extremely helpful!

  17. show says:

    Hi, we had a cut l shape on our kitchen wall.we asked 10 handymen to fix it they did not show up, so i am going home depot to fix it, thank u

  18. I carefully removed door facings. One side came off well. The other not so good!!! Top layer of sheet rock peeled off about 6 inches wiDE and 3 ft. Long!!!!’ I have trimmed the edges, cleaned area, bought some dust control mud, now I’m ready to start. Where do I go from here?

  19. I carefully removed door facings, one side was not a good job. The top layer of sheet rock paper came off aporox. 6″ x 3 ft!!!! I have trimmed edges, cleaned area, bought dust control mud, now where do I go from here? Should I use the mesh with this repair?

  20. Joy Butler says:

    Let me give you a HUGE THUMBS UP for this useful information about drywall repairing. Aside from providing this video, you have presented a step by step guide on how to do the drywall repair. Even a newbie on this field can do it. This detailed guide is absolutely helpful!

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