How to Patch & Repair Drywall

From small dents to large holes, there are several ways to fix surface defects on your walls. Learn to patch and repair drywall.

Few Hours
Less Than $100

What You Need for This Project

Before You Shop

  • Consider these points and plan your purchases accordingly.
  • Decide whether you want to repaint the whole wall or just touch up patched areas.
  • If you're patching tiny nail holes, you can cover up the repairs by dabbing on touch-up paint with a soft cloth.
  • If you're patching a large number of holes and other damaged areas, prime the patched walls before repainting — especially if you're choosing a semi-gloss or shinier finish. The higher the gloss, the more different surface textures appear between the patch and surrounding paint.
Tip: Wear protective clothing, work gloves, goggles, and a dust mask when working with drywall.

Good to Know

Before you begin your repair, it's important to know the utility placement in your home. Typically, electric wires are attached to wall studs. Locate the wall studs before you begin cutting, drilling, or nailing drywall.

Small Dents & Dings

Scrape away loose debris from the hole. Cover the hole or dent with fast-drying spackle to bring the spackle level with the drywall surface.

Let it dry 24 hours or as long as the manufacturer's instructions say. Sand and smooth after.

Popped Nail Heads

  1. 1

    Drive & Sink a Screw In

    Drive a drywall screw 1 1/2 inches above the popped nail head into the stud to reattach the drywall to the stud. Sink the screw head just below the surface of the drywall so it can be covered with spackle.

    Then, drive in the popped nail.
  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Spackle & Sand

    Cover the sunken screw head and nail head with spackle until level with the wall surface. Wait 24 hours or the time recommended in the manufacturer's instructions.

    Sand the area smooth.
  2. Steps:

Small Holes

  1. 1

    Cover the Hole

    Place the self-adhesive patch over the hole.
  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Cover the Patch

    Use a drywall knife to cover the patch with lightweight joint compound in a crisscross pattern, feathering the edges so it blends with the wall. To feather the edge, increase pressure and angle on the drywall knife as you reach the outer edges of the patch area to minimize (or thin) the joint compound on the wall.

    Let the patch dry and apply a second coat of compound if needed. Sand smooth.
  2. Steps:

Person applying purple joint compound on drywall
Person applying purple joint compound on drywall

Medium Holes

  1. 1

    Prepare a Drywall Patch

    • Cut a piece of drywall into a square shape that's 2 in. larger in width and height than the area to be repaired.
    • Score the back of the drywall with the utility knife, going about 1 in. from each side.
    • Snap off the gypsum, but leave the paper backing intact.
  2. Steps:

Person cutting drywall into a patch
Patch of drywall with lines scored on the back
  1. 2

    Trace the Patch on the Wall

    Hold the patch over the hole and trace around the gypsum square. Do not include the paper border in your transfer. Cut out the traced square with a drywall knife.

    Tip: Before cutting, check the hole for electrical wires. Typically, they are attached to studs.

  2. Steps:

  1. 3

    Put the Patch on the New Hole

    Apply joint compound to the back of the border paper. Fit the gypsum into the new hole and press the compound-coated paper edges into place along the outside edge of the hole.

    Cover the entire patch with joint compound until the lines are camouflaged, feathering the edges. This patch may require two coats of compound, with dry time in between coats. Sand smooth.
  2. Steps:

Person putting joint compound on the paper part of the back of a drywall patch
Person applying joint compound to a part of the wall
Person applying joint compound to a part of the wall

Large Holes

For holes larger than six inches, you'll need to create a drywall patch with a different attachment method for the repair.

  1. 1

    Prep a Drywall Patch

    • Cut a piece of drywall into a square a little big bigger than the hole.
    • Hold the square over the hole in the drywall and trace around the edges.
    • Cut along the lines on the wall with a drywall knife.

     Before cutting, check the hole for electrical wires. Typically, they are attached to the studs.
  2. Steps:

Person holding a square of drywall
Person tracing around the edge of drywall, on the wall
Person using a drywall saw to cut out a hole in a wall
  1. 2

    Attach the Drywall Patch

    • Inside the hole, attach a furring strip and a small, thin piece of wood to either side of the hole with screws.
    • Sink the screws beneath the surface of the drywall.
    • Set the drywall patch in place and screw it into the furring strips, sinking the screws beneath the surface of the drywall.
    • Apply joint tape to the borders of the patch. Joint tape is made of mesh and strengthens the bond between the patch and the wall, reducing movements and helping to prevent future cracks.
  2. Steps:

Person drilling holes on drywall
Person drilling holes on drywall
Drywall patch on the wall held in with mesh tape
  1. 3

    Cover the Patch

    Cover the patch and tape with joint compound, feathering the edges. Allow the compound to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. Apply a second coat if needed, then sand and smooth after it dries.
  2. Steps:

Corner Bead Patch

Corner bead is used where two pieces of drywall meet to form a corner. It's available in a variety of materials, including metal, paper, and vinyl.

  1. 1

    Cut & Remove the Damaged Piece

    Cut the damaged corner bead horizontally with a hacksaw, both above and below the mar.

    Use a utility knife to cut vertically along the drywall, connecting the top and bottom cuts from the hacksaw on the left and right sides. Remove the damaged piece.
  2. Steps:

Drywall saw on corner bead
Person using a utility knife on drywall
  1. 2

    Make a New Corner Bead

    Cut a new piece of corner bead to fill the gap, then attach it to the wall with nails or the manufacturer's recommended fastener or adhesive.
  2. Steps:

  1. 3

    Finish the Corner Bead

    Apply joint compound to both sides of the corner, covering the bead patch to smooth rough edges and cover any seams, feathering the edges. Let dry and sand smooth.
  2. Steps:

Finish the Repair

  1. 1

    Sand & Paint

    • Finish all repairs with a final light sanding to ensure a satin smooth finish and seamless blending between the patch and the wall.
    • Cover with a coat of primer and let dry.
    • Finish with paint.

  2. Steps:

Person using sanding sponge on a paint patch on a wall
Person applying white paint to a wall with a brush
Person using a roller to apply paint to a wall

Repair Textured Drywall

  1. 1

    Prepare the Patch Area

    • Sand the patch area smooth.
    • In a small bowl, mix four parts joint compound with one part water.
    • Drip a stiff brush into the mixture and hold it close to the wall, bristles up.
  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Apply to the Wall

    Flick the mixture onto the wall by running a gloved finger across the surface of the bristles. Typically, the faster the flicking motion, the smaller the particles on the wall.

    Tip: Practice and perfect the flicking motion on a scrap board before applying to the wall.
  2. Steps:

  1. 3

    Flatten Particles

    For a knock-down finish — one where a trowel presses joint compound down to form a texture that's more mottled than a flat wall — lightly flatten the particles with a knife as the compound mixture begins to dry.
  2. Steps:

  1. 4


    As an alternative to flicking compound onto the wall, you can use textured spray in a variety of finishes. Shake the can thoroughly and spray the patch area in a circular motion, holding the can 6 to 18 in. from the wall.
  2. Steps:

  1. 5

    Finish the Surface

    Allow the textured compound to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. Prime the surface and paint it the colour you'd like.
  2. Steps:

How To Terms

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures.

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