From time to time, it’s certain that you will have to make minor (or major) repairs to your drywall. Things happen: children, pets, accidents, moving injuries. Damage to your walls can range from minor dings and punctures to large-scale damage requiring replacing a section of drywall. For this article, the focus will be on minor problems.
A minor injury to drywall can be a small hole, such as what is left by a nail used to hang pictures, or a larger hole that may require a repair patch. All of the work described here requires use of drywall compound, a putty knife, sandpaper, and a sharp utility knife. Repair of larger holes may require mesh tape, some wood strips (about 1”thick and 3 inches wide), a piece of drywall for cutting patches from, and drywall screws and a screwdriver as well. A keyhole saw is also helpful. Finally, you will need a way to touch up whatever wall covering you are using, which is of course easier if it happens to be paint, and if you have some leftover paint to use.
The first thing you want to do in patching a minor hole is to go over it with a utility knife and cut away any protruding paper and other materials, leaving a smooth surface other than the hole itself. You should end up with a slight indentation that can be filled with drywall compound.
Apply the first coat of compound to a thickness of no more than 1/8 inch. Allow the first coat to become completely dry, then scrape it smooth with a putty knife and apply a second coat. Keep doing this until the surface is slightly elevated above the rest of the wall. Then sand lightly to produce a smooth surface even with the wall. Wipe it down to remove any particulate matter and touch up the paint.
For a larger hole (up to about three inches in diameter), use a keyhole saw if necessary or your utility knife if this is feasible to cut out the damaged part of the wall in a rectangular shape. Mark your cutting lines using a square and then cut carefully to leave a regular shaped hole. (Be careful of any wiring or plumbing inside the walls!) Attach some wood strips in back of the drywall by inserting them into the hole and screwing them to the drywall with drywall screws. Cut a patch of drywall to fit into the hole and attach it to the wood strips with drywall screws.
Use mesh tape around the edges of the patch. Apply several coats of drywall compound to the patch so as to create a uniform and slightly elevated surface, then sand to a smooth finish, and touch up the paint as above.