OK, so the good news is that when you come to that day when your kids, or the dog, or even you, have damaged the drywall in your home, a pre-assembled drywall repair kit likely will meet your DIY repair needs.
But those kits are somewhat limited, and if you want to develop your DIY skills to encompass drywall repair, you’ll want to assemble your own tools and materials as an informal drywall repair kit for when you’re confronted with damaged drywall.
Read on for information on assembling your own drywall repair tools and materials, followed by a brief look at commercially available drywall repair kits.
Essential Tools for a Drywall Repair Kit
If you’d like to add drywall repair to your DIY skill set, it’s not particularly expensive to assemble the tools you’ll need to handle jobs from dents to holes measuring many inches wide.
In fact, you already may have most of the tools you need for a drywall repair kit. Read on for a look at what you’ll need to have on hand in the event a drywall repair is needed in your household.
1. Drywall Saw
In reality, a drywall saw looks more like a knife, with a serrated blade extending several inches from the handle. You’ll most likely use a drywall saw for larger drywall hole repairs when you need to cut along and around the hole to create a space for a piece of drywall or drywall panel to cover the hole.
But you may also find that a drywall saw will come in handy as part of a drywall repair kit for smoothing the edges of smaller holes to help ensure the required adhesive patch adheres firmly over the damaged area.
2. Utility Knife
If you’re already a DIY enthusiast, chances are you have a utility knife, or maybe more than one, in your toolbox or on your workbench, ready to become part of your drywall repair kit. As with a drywall saw, you’ll most likely need your utility knife to handle larger holes in your drywall.
You’ll use your utility knife to score through the paper of the drywall panel you’ll be using to repair the hole. Once the panel is scored, the scored section can be snapped off cleanly and set in place over the hole.
3. Putty Knife
If you don’t already have a putty knife, you’ll need to get one — or, better yet, a set of several sizes for your drywall repair kit. For dings and dents in your drywall, you’ll use a putty knife to spread the spackle that will bring the indentation up to the surface of the rest of the wall.
For larger repairs, you’ll need a putty knife to spread joint compound over either an adhesive patch covering the hole, or along the gap between the drywall repair panel and the rest of the wall.
In either case, having multiple sizes of putty knives available for your drywall repair kit can ensure a smooth repair by reducing the number of passes required to smooth over a damaged area.
4. Drywall Mud Pan
For most of the drywall repair issues around your house, you can probably dip your putty knife into the container of spackle or joint compound that you’re using to spread it over your repair. But if you’re pursuing a large repair, you might want to add a drywall mud pan to your drywall repair kit.
A drywall mud pan will allow you to hold a large quantity of spackle or joint compound while you’re doing your repair work. Having your spackle or joint compound close at hand will, of course, speed the job along.
For larger drywall repairs, you’ll need a screwdriver to set drywall screws into and around the repair panel to secure it in place before priming and painting. Most drywall screws are Phillips-head screws, so you’ll likely need a Phillips-head screwdriver for your drywall repair kit.
However, you should check the heads of your drywall screws before beginning repairs and make sure you have a matching screwdriver.
You will, of course, need a paintbrush to apply the primer and the paint that will finish up your drywall repair work. Since the type of paintbrush you’ll need will depend on the size of the damage, you might want to consider buying a set of paintbrushes of various widths for a drywall repair kit.
Essential Supplies for a Drywall Repair Kit
Along with the tools listed above to guide you in assembling a drywall repair kit, there are a number of supplies that you can keep on hand to be ready for a drywall issue. Read on to learn more about what your drywall repair kit should include in terms of supplies.
7. Drywall Patches
When confronted with a hole in your drywall that’s less than six or eight inches across in any direction, one of the supplies that you’ll certainly need for your drywall repair kit is a drywall patch.
Available in a variety of basic dimensions, drywall patches are adhesive screens installed over relatively small holes in drywall to provide anchoring for the binding material that will cover the hole.
8. Spackle and Joint Compound
To ensure that you’re prepared for both dents, dings, and small holes, as well as for large holes in your drywall, your drywall repair kit should include both interior/exterior spackle and joint compound. Both materials are putties comprised, like drywall, primarily of gypsum.
However, each of the two putties has a particular purpose in drywall repair. Spackle, the more paste-like of the two products, is more suited for covering dings and dents in drywall. Joint compound is better suited for covering wider areas of damage.
Spackle dries quickly, meaning that you can make fast work of filling in dents and small holes, since it will be ready in short order for any needed sanding, priming, and painting.
Joint compound dries more slowly than spackle, meaning you’ll have more time to work it into your repair. In turn, that will result in a smooth, professional-quality look to your drywall work.
9. Drywall Panels
For repairs to drywall holes up to about a foot across, a ½-inch thick drywall repair panel is a handy way to bridge the gap. Don’t worry too much if your drywall is a different thickness; a ½-inch thick panel should be a good fit for your repair work and a worthwhile addition to your drywall repair kit.
10. Drywall Adhesive Tape
If your repair requires the installation of a new piece of drywall, you’ll need some drywall adhesive tape. The tape is placed over the gap between the drywall repair and the surrounding undamaged wall. The tape provides a way to bridge the gap with joint compound to help conceal the repair.
Sandpaper will be a critical component of your personal drywall repair kit. You’ll need it to smooth the area around any holes, removing any tiny shards of drywall or paper to ensure a quality job. You’ll also need it to sand down your primer in preparation for repainting the damaged drywall area.
For initial cleaning of the area around the damage, consider an 80-grit sandpaper. For final sanding of primer before painting, a 220-grit sandpaper is a great choice. It might be a good idea to buy a preassembled assortment of sandpaper to find the ideal grits for your specific repair job.
As you start the process of repainting your drywall repair, your first step, as with any painting job, is to apply drywall primer to give the area a smooth and uniformly colored surface before painting. Either water-based latex primer or oil-based primer will work well on drywall.
If you’re repainting your repaired wall with a bright or deep color, you’ll need tinted primer. Your paint store or building supply store professional can prepare tinted primer for you based on a color sample from the area around the repair.
The last part of repairing drywall, of course, is painting your repair to match the rest of your wall. To ensure a good match, you should take a chip from the wall — there likely will be some easily removed chips along the damaged drywall — to your local paint store or home improvement center.
Alternatively, you can use one of the color-matching applications available for smartphones to help your paint professional provide you with a color to match your entire wall.
As a final note on paint, if you’re dealing with a large repair, you might want to consider repainting the entire wall to ensure that color matching won’t be an issue.
14. Wood and Drywall Scraps
This probably doesn’t need to be said to most DIYers, but if you have bits of dimensional lumber or plywood left over from any of your projects, don’t throw them away. And the same thing goes for drywall scraps, now that you’re on your way to adding drywall repair to your DIY skill set.
Short lengths of dimensional lumber and leftover pieces of plywood are necessary to repair drywall damage extending more than six to eight inches in any direction. They are used on the back of damaged drywall to provide secure anchoring for new drywall cut to fit the damaged area.
Also, when you have sections of drywall left over from DIY projects, store them away for use as part of your personal drywall repair kit. To ensure that your leftover drywall remains viable for reuse, store it flat in a dry place.
If you have room, laying leftover drywall on your garage floor — provided your garage remains dry year-round — is a great option.
Drywall Repair Kits
As a final note in this look at drywall repair tools and materials, it’s more than acceptable to use commercially available drywall repair kits to handle repairs at your home.
The kits routinely contain drywall patches, repair paste, putty knives for spreading and smoothing the paste, and sandpaper for bringing the repaired area even with the surrounding wall surface.
Drywall repair kits do have one limitation. Because the drywall patches are limited in size, they likely won’t handle repairs more than six or eight inches across in any direction. Also, drywall repair kits don’t include the primer or paint you’ll need to complete your drywall repair.
Wrapping up Drywall Repair Tools and Materials
So now you know all about the tools and materials you’ll need to assemble your own drywall repair kit. The next step is to get everything together for the inevitable day when home life gets a little rambunctious, punctuated by a hole in your drywall.
If you’d like to learn more about drywall repair, installation, or other aspects of drywall, be sure to check out the many other posts on drywall at DIY Painting Tips.