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How to Repair Holes in Drywall: Step-by-Step Instructions

It’s bound to happen sometime. Whether through careless furniture moving, kids playing too rough indoors, or other scenarios, you’ll likely find yourself dealing with accidental holes punched in your home’s drywall. Knowing how to repair holes in drywall is a useful home repair skill.

Thankfully, learning how to repair holes in drywall is easy, and the work is well within the capabilities of most DIY enthusiasts, if not all. Read on to learn the specifics of how to repair holes in drywall.

A man's hands showing how to repair holes in drywall

Repairing Small Holes in Drywall

If the hole in your drywall is the size of a nickel or smaller, repairing it is one of the simplest DIY projects to tackle. In many cases, all you’ll need is joint compound, also known as drywall mud, or spackle, a sealing putty.

If your hole is larger than a nickel, up to a few inches across, repairing it is still a simple matter, although it will require you to use a drywall patch kit.

Using Spackle or Joint Compound

When faced with the need to repair a small hole or indentation in drywall, you’ll need to decide whether spackle or joint compound is the best choice in terms of how to repair holes in drywall.


As a general rule for how to repair holes in drywall, spackle — a mix of gypsum powder and binding materials — is best suited for very minor drywall repairs such as filling in nail holes and other small dents and dings.

Spackle’s fast drying time makes it particularly convenient. With spackle, it’s usually possible to start sanding down and repainting the repair area within about a half-hour of finishing the spackle application.

Joint compound

As another point of information on how to repair holes in drywall, it’s helpful to know that joint compound is used mostly in new drywall installation, largely for covering seams between pieces of drywall. Because it dries slower than spackle, joint compound can be easily worked into a smooth transition between pieces of drywall.

However, as part of knowing how to repair holes in drywall, you should understand that joint compound can be substituted for spackle for small drywall repairs.

The downside of using joint compound for drywall repair is that it can shrink as it dries. That means a small drywall repair could require multiple coats of joint compound, extending drying time to as long as 24 hours.

Using a Drywall Patch Kit

For drywall holes measuring a few inches across, making an effective repair means using a drywall patch kit. Most drywall patch kits will include the tools you’ll need to make a top-quality repair.

Basically, a drywall patch kit includes an adhesive mesh screen that is installed over the hole and anchored in the surrounding drywall. Once the patch is in place, use a putty knife to spread spackle (or lightweight joint compound) over it as the next step in how to repair holes in drywall.

Man using a drywall patch kit to repair a hole in drywall

Spread the spackle or joint compound with crisscross strokes. As you reach the outer edges of the repair area, increase the angle and the pressure on the putty knife to blend it into the existing wall.

You may need to allow the first coat of compound and spackle to dry and then apply a second coat. Once the repair area is covered, sand it down, apply primer, and then repaint it.

Repairing Large Holes in Drywall

If the hole in your drywall is more than a few inches across, you’ll need to buy a piece of new drywall to replace the damaged section. Most home improvement centers sell 2-foot by 2-foot sections of drywall to help work through how to repair holes in drywall.

If you need a piece of replacement drywall, make sure it is the same thickness as the surrounding drywall. As a helpful tip on how to repair holes in drywall, you should know that drywall ranges from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch thick, with ½-inch being the most common thickness.

Cutting and Installing a Drywall Patch

The best strategy for successful drywall repair is to use a drywall saw to cut a rectangular section around the hole. The hole should reach the middle of the wall studs on either side of the damaged area. To add extra strength, attach a piece of scrap wood halfway between the studs, using drywall screws.

Using a straight edge to measure and cut a large piece of drywall

Then, cut a piece of drywall measuring about ⅛-inch shorter than the sides of the cut-out section of your wall. Remember that all you have to do to cut drywall is to score the paper covering, and then break the piece along the cut line.

Slide the patch piece into place and secure it to the studs and the scrap wood with drywall screws. Once the repair patch is secured, install adhesive mesh tape around the edges, and cover and smooth the area with joint compound.

Once the compound is dry, simply sand it smooth, apply primer, and then repaint the repair area.

How to Repair Holes in Drywall Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you’ve been introduced to how to repair holes in drywall, you may have some additional questions about keeping your home’s drywall in great shape. Here are answers to a couple of questions related to repairing holes in drywall.

When should drywall hole repair be left to professionals?

While drywall repair is certainly a learnable skill, there is no shame in calling home repair professionals to ensure the job is done correctly.

If you’re dealing with a large hole, with lots of associated cracks and other drywall damage, a professional fix might be the way to go. Calling a professional will ensure that no damage is done to electrical wiring, heating and air conditioning vents, or other components inside the walls of your home.

The good news is that professional drywall repair won’t break the bank too badly. You can expect to pay $50 to $80 per square foot of repair, or $60 to $100 per hour, depending on how the repair company bills for its work.

What are some other drywall damage issues that may need DIY attention?

While considering how to repair holes in drywall, it’s worthwhile to briefly examine some other drywall damage issues that might require some DIY attention. Read on for a brief look at how to deal with some relatively minor drywall repair issues.

Surface Cracks

On occasion, you may notice cracks in your drywall. Usually, these cracks occur along the line where two drywall sheets meet. If you see a crack, your first step will be to determine whether the tape joining the two drywall sections has pulled loose.

To do that, widen the crack with a paint scraper or utility knife. If the tape is intact, simply fill the crack with new drywall compound. Allow the compound to dry, and then lightly sand it down. Brush away any dust and repaint the repaired section of drywall.

Using spackle to repair drywall surface cracks

If the crack extends through the drywall tape, carefully remove the tape along the length of the crack and fill the crack with drywall compound. Then, use a new piece of drywall tape to bridge the gap from the removal of the old tape. Use a putty knife to smooth the tape and embed the new compound.

You’ll then need to add two more thin coats of compound, allowing the compound to dry between all three coats. At that point, you’re ready to sand down the repair, remove any dust, and repaint.

Nail Pops

If you live in a relatively new home, you’re likely to occasionally find small bulges in your drywall. Those bulges most likely are “nail pops,” or spots where nails in the drywall have worked loose as studs have dried in new construction.

To repair a nail pop, simply tap the nail back down, and install drywall screws on either side of it to keep everything in place. Of course, once you’ve installed the drywall screws, you’ll need to cover them with joint compound, let it dry, sand it down, and repaint the repair area.

Corner Bead

Corner bead is strips of metal or plastic folded around corners where drywall meets to present a smooth appearance. Just like drywall, corner beads can be damaged when struck. Replacing damaged corner beads is a simple process.

First, take a hacksaw and cut a few inches below and above the damaged section of the corner bead. Use a utility knife to score around the edges of the damaged section of the corner bead, and then pull it loose.

Next, cut a section of replacement corner bead to fill the gap and nail it in place. From there, you’ll apply several coats of drywall compound to the repair, letting each coat dry between applications. Finally, you’ll sand down the repair, apply primer, and then repaint the area.

Both plastic corner bead and metal corner bead are readily available for DIY projects.

Image showing the progression of drywall repair from the hole to the repaired wall

Wrapping up How to Repair Holes in Drywall

Now that you’ve learned how to repair holes in drywall, you need not worry about the chance that you’ll be faced with that issue in the future. And you’ll save money doing the repair work yourself.

For more on drywall, from installation to more repair tips to removal, check out the many other drywall posts at DIY Painting Tips.