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Budgeting for Drywall Repair Costs: Tips for Getting the Job Done without Breaking the Bank

If you’re a homeowner, it’s all but certain that one day, you’ll find yourself staring at damaged drywall. When that moment comes, whether you’re looking at some minor dings and scratches, a full-blown hole, water infiltration, or some other issue, one of your first thoughts will be about drywall repair costs.

Whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor to do the work, you’ll certainly be looking to keep your drywall repair cost at a minimum. Read on for some tips on budgeting for drywall repair costs to make the process less of a hassle than it might otherwise be.

Man holding a bucket up to catch water while thinking about drywall repair cost

Types of Drywall Damage

First, let’s take a quick look at the types of drywall damage you might encounter in your home and whether you can, or should, handle them as a DIY project in terms of drywall repair cost.


It’s common for most homeowners to have experienced drywall damage from some type of impact, whether from rough-playing children, accidentally forcing a door open into a wall, or from a poorly mounted painting pulling loose from the wall.

Repairing most of these types of damage is a simple matter of filling in the resulting dent or hole, or for larger holes, cutting a new piece of drywall to patch the hole. Most DIYers should be comfortable with these types of repairs, unless they involve wide sections of drywall.


If you notice some sections of your drywall are buckling, have flaking or peeling paint, or are showing large stains, the damage is likely from a slow water leak. Of course, your first step is finding out where the leak is located, for which your best bet will be calling in a plumber.

Once the leak has been located and addressed, you’ll need to dry out the drywall using a fan and a dehumidifier, along with opening nearby windows. You can expect the drying process to take at least three days.

If the damage is extensive, covering a large area and extending around corners, to the ceiling, or in multiple rooms, calling in a professional may be the wisest repair decision.

As a final note, if you notice any black mold associated with the water leak, call in a professional to deal with it. Black mold, which can also appear as greenish-black, gray or brown, can bring on respiratory problems, which can be particularly problematic for people with asthma or other medical issues.

Foundation Settling

Most homes, particularly older residences, will sooner or later exhibit cracks in drywall as the structure’s foundation settles over time. But drywall cracks wider than 3/16 of an inch are a sign of significant settling issues that will need professional attention.

For smaller cracks, cutting a small notch along both sides of the damage, lining the crack with drywall tape, and filling the crack with drywall joint compound will address the problem with little drywall repair cost. When the crack is covered, sand down the area around it and apply primer and paint to finish.

Poor Installation

For the prospective homebuyer, signs of substandard drywall installation should serve as a warning to look elsewhere for a house. If you see sagging ceilings, can notice the joints between drywall sheets, or see holes where drywall screws were installed, you’ll be better off with another residence.

While some fixes for a poor installation might be within the capabilities of most DIYers, and may have a reasonable drywall repair cost, it’s best just to avoid the hassle.

DIY Versus Contractor for Drywall Repair Costs

Depending on the extent and type of your drywall damage, you may decide that your DIY skills don’t match the work required to get your home looking good again. Read on for advice on when to consider calling in a professional and for some information on professional drywall repair costs.

Deciding When to Use a Contractor for Drywall Repair

While small holes and cracks in drywall are well within the abilities of even the least-experienced DIYers to address, it’s probably best to leave the repair of large holes or damage caused by mold, water infiltration, or other issues to professional drywall contractors.

American homeowners can expect to pay an average of anywhere between $300 and $900 for drywall repair. But, of course, that average drywall repair cost could rise significantly if the damage is widespread or otherwise difficult to address.

Professional Versus DIY Costs for Drywall Repair

As a general guide, labor costs for professional drywall repair will fall somewhere between $40 and $100 per hour, depending on the size of the damage, the type of damage, and where the damage has occurred. Overall, labor costs will represent as much as 75% of the cost of your drywall repair.

Of course, doing the work yourself will save you the labor costs. And even if you don’t already have at least some of the tools needed for the work, there are lots of drywall repair kits, many available for well under $20, that include all the necessary tools.

Replacing a large piece of drywall during drywall repair

Also, if you need a large drywall patch for your repair, they’re routinely available at local home improvement centers at less than $10 for a patch large enough to cover a 4-square-foot hole.

Handling DIY Drywall Repair Costs

While there are some instances in which drywall repair costs should be well within the limits of most household budgets, there are circumstances in which it may be too expensive. Read on for a look at insurance coverage for drywall repair costs and for two potentially money-saving drywall repair hacks.

Insurance Coverage for Drywall Repair

If your drywall damage is extensive, it might be wise to check your homeowner’s insurance policy, or perhaps have a conversation with your insurance agent, to determine whether repair costs might be covered.

Generally, if your drywall repair cost is a couple hundred dollars or less, you may be better off not filing a claim since claims tend to increase your premium.

However, your homeowner’s policy may include coverage making it advantageous to file a claim, particularly if the repairs are going to be fairly costly. For example, if your drywall is extensively damaged by a water pipe that bursts suddenly, it’s likely that your insurance policy will cover repairs.

But if your drywall is damaged over time by a slowly leaking pipe, you likely won’t be covered since insurance companies expect homeowners to take care of routine maintenance such as minor water leaks.

In short, the question of whether your drywall repair can be covered by insurance comes down to the issue of whether the damage is the result of an accident, which would be covered, as opposed to negligence, which would not merit coverage.

Drywall Repair Hacks Designed to Save Money

If you’ve decided to do your own drywall repair, there are a couple of things you can do to save money, both in terms of the immediate repair and in ensuring that you won’t have to deal with further damage. These hacks, though, will apply only to the smallest drywall repair jobs.

If you’re repairing a small hole, you may not need to cut a piece of drywall to fit it. You could simply cut a piece of cardboard to a size about an inch and a half larger around than the hole. Cut a hole in the middle of the cardboard, and tie a string through it.

Drywall tools and spackling compound

Then, apply some adhesive to the cardboard and push it through the wall, using the string to pull it taut to the back side of the wall, where it will adhere to the drywall. Cut the string and apply drywall joint compound over the hole.

Finally, place a piece of drywall adhesive tape over the hole and sand down the joint compound to get it even with the surrounding wall before finishing the repair with primer and paint.

An even easier hack for repairing small holes in drywall is to fill the hole with an insulating foam sealant. Once the sealant is set in the hole, you can use a utility knife to bring it even with the wall, and then finish the job with joint compound and tape, even out the surface, and top it with primer and paint.

Preventing Damage to Avoid Drywall Repair Cost

If you’d rather not have to deal with drywall repair costs, there are two quick things you can do to eliminate the possibility for at least some drywall damage.

To keep doorknobs from damaging drywall, either from repeated knocks or one major door slam, invest in a door stopper. For home use, your best choice will be a spring-type stopper with a rubber tip that extends out far enough to keep the doorknob away from the wall.

Using a door stopper to prevent damage to drywall

Another way to avoid drywall repair cost issues is simply to keep your furniture far enough away from the wall that there is no danger of repeated contact as people use the furniture.

Wrapping up Budgeting for Drywall Repair Costs

Now that you’ve learned about drywall repair cost budgeting, you should take advantage of the wealth of other drywall information available elsewhere at DIY Painting Tips.

With just a little bit of reading, you’ll be able confidently to add drywall installation and repair to your list of impressive DIY skills.