Current home construction is most often with drywall and plaster walls unless a wall is finished with wood. The plaster finish is either painted or papered, paintings are hung, perhaps wainscoting covers the lower half of the wall, and the room is finished.
Accidents do happen, and with kids in the home, they are very likely. A common accident is opening a door too forcefully, with the door handle hitting the wall and poking a hole in it. Or perhaps a painting was hung in the wrong place and needs to be moved, leaving a nail hole or two showing in the old spot.
Hiring a professional might run you $75 or more for a single, small hole repair, with larger holes possibly costing you several hundred dollars. The repair of a hole in your drywall is not something to fear. In fact, it is a relatively easy DIY project if the right tools, the right hole filler, and the right steps are used.
The drywall was likely plastered, although not necessarily. However, either way, the process is basically the same. Let’s consider repairing a small hole in your drywall and see what we need to do.
What is Drywall?
Drywall is a building material commonly used to cover framing on the interior walls and ceilings of homes. It’s a flat panel made of gypsum plaster sandwiched between 2 sheets of thick paper and can be nailed or screwed to wood studs. Sheets come in 4’ x 8’ dimensions.
Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that is in plentiful supply and readily available. It is mixed with various additives to create a slurry, and then the sandwich is made and allowed to dry.
Drywall is also referred to as plasterboard, wallboard, sheet rock, and gypsum board. Sheetrock is a specific brand of drywall sheet.
During construction, drywall is easily cut to size with a box cutter, scored on both sides into the thick paper, and then snapped apart. Since drywall seams will be taped and filled with plaster to a smooth finish, exact measurements are not necessary – close enough is good enough.
It is often said in the trades that drywall hides framing errors, plaster hides drywall errors, and paint hides everything. While this represents bragging rights among craftsmen, it is not necessarily true; since buildings must be inspected for framing, rough electrical work, and rough plumbing, errors usually get found out before they are covered.
Common Drywall Repairs
Small, clean holes in drywall can be quickly and easily repaired with spackling compound or wood filler. It is the latter we are considering today. Although the materials are different, the repair approach is similar, as are the tools needed.
Those small holes in drywall may have been caused by nails when hanging a painting or mirror or by a door handle that is slammed into the wall. Perhaps the hole is clean and with no damage around it (easy to repair) or is cracked around the edges (only a little more work).
While it might be natural to grab a can of Spackle for the repair, or some joint compound, if you have wood filler handy, that can also do the job. It’s in the preparation that the success of the repair lies, and if you follow just a few steps, the repair will be easy, and the hole will be gone with no sign of having been there in the first place.
How To Repair a 2” Or Smaller Hole With No Cracks In Drywall
Follow these steps for a small, clean hole in your drywall:
- Lightly sand the edges of the hole to prepare the surface to better hold the filler. You want good adhesion to the drywall edges.
- Use a damp cloth to wipe the surface clean and remove all dust.
- Fill the hole with the wood filler to overflow around the edges.
- With a putty knife or a plaster paddle, spread the filler excess around the hole and leave a small bulge in the center.
- Allow plenty of time for the filler to dry fully.
- Sand the surface until it is smooth and blends with the surface surrounding the hole you’ve just patched.
If you are not fully satisfied that the hole is completely filled and covered, repeat the process a second time to fill in any missed spots. Again, allow to dry fully before sanding smooth.
We know that wood filler is weather-resistant (does not expand/contract with a changing environment) and can be sanded and painted. When the repair job is completed, we recommend you repaint the entire wall and not simply the area surrounding the repair. This will help blend everything together like new.
What If The Drywall Hole Is Larger Than 2” Or Has Cracked Edges?
In the event the hole in the drywall is larger than 2” or has cracked edges, the repair job is a bit more complicated and requires some additional materials and steps. The additional materials will include repair tape over the entire hole, including cracked edges, spackling compound, and sometimes a self-adhesive repair patch.
There are drywall repair kits commercially available at the large DIT stores and your local hardware stores. They come with instructions on drywall hole repair that are easy to follow, just as those we’ve provided above, and they are reasonably priced.
For very large holes, the repair might actually involve removing a piece of the drywall surrounding the hole to expose wall studs and the use of a new piece of drywall. Self-adhesive drywall tape, joint compound, adequate drying time, sanding, and repainting are a part of this process, too.
Wood filler would not be the right choice for these larger drywall repair jobs. If the hole were so large that an entire piece of drywall would need to be replaced, you may feel more comfortable calling in a professional to make sure the job goes well. There may be an electrical outlet or light switch to consider, something a professional drywall installer would know about.
Try as we might, we were unable to find a video directly on point using wood filler to repair a small hole in drywall. However, we did find one video of a large hole repair job that involved the use of a new piece of drywall. Most of the steps we outlined above were followed in this video, and so we chose it for this article.
There are two messages we want to get across in this piece:
- Don’t be intimidated by a drywall repair job. It really is a DIY project.
- Wood filler can be used in drywall repair for small holes.
Follow the steps we’ve provided, allow plenty of time for the filler to dry, and sand to a smooth finish flush with the surrounding drywall. A new coat of paint on the entire wall will have your room looking new.