Drywall repair for amateur
January 24, 2015 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations, tips and products for a small drywall repair job in our bedroom.

Mrs A. was a little enthusiastic with our curtains the other night and tore down the curtain rod, taking some of the drywall with it. Luckily, this is not urgent as we have blinds and are planning to upgrade those at some point.

Since this is the first house we've owned, I can't call a landlord to fix it so I need to repair it myself. Repair consists of the 4" x 3" hole and the screw holes in the wall where the other anchor points are. Repair doesn't need to be load bearing as we're not putting up a new curtain rod.

I've seen this previous question and the responses give me a good idea on how to progress. Does anyone have any hard won experience that will let me get the best results with minimal skill (I'm relatively handy, but this is my first attempt at drywall)?

Photos of the hole are here along with some products that I found while browsing Home Depot.
posted by arcticseal to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The screw holes on the other side are easy, just remove the screws and fill with spackle.

I've used the DAP kit (the last photo in your link) and it worked fine, though in my case it was in a very unobtrusive location where no one was ever going to notice if there was a minor difference in texture. But it was just as easy as the pictures on the package suggest, and worked well. It may not be the absolute perfect approach, but it was both easy and gave an ok result, so it met my needs.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:44 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You'll get plenty of instructions on how to spackle/plasterit. It's easy and you'll have no trouble. It's even load-bearable once dry.

However, let me address the next step: After you've plastered it, you'll want to paint it in the same colour as the wall. Ai, there's the rub. Even if you know the exact brand and colour, even if you have the same actual can of paint leftover from when you painted the walls...it may not quite match. THerefore, it's a good idea to just plaster/spackle (and thus paint) only an area the size of the actual hole.

So your hole is kind of big, but say you had a just a screw or nail hole, especially. You might be tempted to just spread on the plaster and if you end up with an area lots bigger than the hole, no biggie, because you'll sand it down and paint it over anyway, Right? Don't do that. That's how you end up with a square foot of the wrong colour on your wall, when you could easily have had a virtually invisible quarter inch circle of not quite the wrong colour on your wall.

Don't ask me how I know. I'm still bitter. It was the same paint!! THE SAME PAINT!!
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:07 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh now, that I've looked at the pics, for the big hole, rip out all that stuff that's not really attached anymore and use one of the wall repair kits. For something that size, I would use a kit with mesh.

For the screw holes, fill with the polyfilla. Just squirt it in, push with your finger, rinse and repeat til it's very slightly raised above the level of the wall (it will shrink as it dries and you'll need to sand it down anyway). Again, do not do a putty-spreader giant patch job on the screw holes. Yes, you can sand it down, but it increases the area to be repainted.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:12 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You got this, man. Just clean up the hole by cutting the broken pieces out so there's nothing above the surface of the wall. Lay your self-adhesive patch over the hole, then knife some spackling over it thick enough to penetrate the mesh, feathering it out into the wall an inch or two larger than your patch material.

Let it dry thoroughly, skim another thin coat on if the center is not flush to the rest of the wall, and sand/paint when dry. The neater you can skim on that last coat, the less you'll have to sand (and the less spackling dust you'll have to clean up -- that stuff gets everywhere). But the beauty of this kind of work is, even if you aren't so neat in applying the spackling, careful sanding cures everything. I like to shine a flashlight from all sides to throw shadows and look for small depressions or lumps. Sometimes the surface can feel smooth to the touch, but actually show flaws at different times of day, depending on how the light hits the wall.

And as Dip Flash says, the holes are easy. Pull those anchors out, spin a knife in the hole to cut any rough edges so the hole is entirely below surface, and fill.

A paint roller will likely blend with the rest of the wall's texture better than a brush, but if you aren't going to be lighting that area and staring at the contrast, a brush will do.

[On preview, If only I had a penguin is right about matching paint over small holes. But I think your larger one will benefit from a patch larger than the hole. I haven't had trouble with paint matches if I know the color or kept a sample just for this purpose.]
posted by peakcomm at 1:13 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Save one of the broken chunks and you can take it to a paint shop and they'll have a computer/machine that matches the colour. I find that the mesh drywall tape is great for this sort of small hole. Plan on doing a few applications.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:21 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: After you've sanded, hit the area with some primer first. Then hunt around in the garage for some paint left by the original owners.

If you don't prime it, when you take pictures, it'll fluoresce. No really.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:32 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This thread is relevant to your interests.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:44 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Save yourself a little grief and get your vacuum pre-positioned nearby with the brush tool at the ready. The floor under your work area is going to have both drywall chunks and a bad case of dandruff from removing the broken bits, any cutting, and your sanding as well. If you have carpet down there, put down a dropcloth of some kind. Coverage is the goal, not waterproofing, so don't get crazy with a tape-sealed plastic drop layer designed for painting, just use a bedsheet doubled up, and give it a shake outside afterwards before washing.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2015

Ok, not to beat this horse, but just to be clear, my pain was paint saved from the original painting of the walls. I didn't just go out and buy a new tin of a similar colour or even a new tin of the same colour, it was the same paint. Apparently the colour of paint changes subtly over time due to light exposure, etc. It's not glaring in most light, but you want to avoid this as much as possible. It's not so possible for the big hole, but the screw holes can definitely be a tiny bit of plaster.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:49 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, all of you, great advice. Patch is on the big hole, everything is filled and I'll have a look on the morning to see if there's any dents that need a second go before sanding and painting (not forgetting primer!).
posted by arcticseal at 5:20 PM on January 24, 2015

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