Drywall panels are the top choice for constructing smooth interior walls, but unfortunately, they’re not indestructible. A child swinging a bat or a bump from the furniture movers can leave an unsightly hole in the middle of the wall. Patching a drywall hole is one of the simpler do-it-yourself home repair projects, especially if you use a screen. The screen acts just like mesh drywall tape, allowing the compound to penetrate the tiny holes and form a solid surface.
Types of Screens
Drywall repair screens are available in precut sizes, made from lightweight and flexible nylon or aluminum mesh, but you can cut your own screen patch from regular window screen. For the best results, choose screen that’s lightweight and flexible. Avoid thick metal screen, which might be noticeable after sanding and painting.
Small Hole Repair
Direct screen repair works well on drywall holes less than 3 inches in diameter. The basic process involves scraping away crumbled or frayed bits of drywall inside the hole with a utility knife, then applying a thin layer of premixed joint compound to the drywall surrounding the hole. The wet compound acts as an adhesive to hold the screen in place over the hole. By smoothing and pressing the edges of the screen into the wet compound with a drywall-taping knife, the screen “beds” firmly into the compound. After the compound dries, additional compound applications fill the screen holes and create a smooth surface.
Big Hole Repair
If the hole is larger than 3 inches in diameter, a little more work is necessary. The best way to fix larger holes is to insert a drywall patch, made by cutting a square of new drywall a couple of inches larger than the hole, positioning it over the hole and tracing around it to transfer its shape to the wall. After cutting along the line with a keyhole saw, thin wooden backers install on the inside of the hole with drywall screws, then the new piece of drywall attaches to the backers. A single piece of screen placed over the entire patched area and taped in place blends the patched area into the surrounding wall.
Tools and Tips
A small, 4-inch taping knife or putty knife works well for scooping up wet compound and smoothing it on, but a wider, 12- or 16-inch knife is better for smoothing compound over wider areas. Drywall compound shrinks slightly as it dries so you’ll get better results if you apply three or more thin coats of compound over the hole rather than one thick application, which could make the screen buckle. After each coat of compound dries, sand it smooth before applying another thin coat. The wider the area over which you spread the compound, the less likely you are to notice a lump or rise over the patched hole. The trick is to spread each layer of compound feather-thin.