He only eats dry-wall when he's bored.
August 6, 2007 6:49 PM   Subscribe

I love my dog, but he loves to eat my walls. I need some direction for fixing some drywall and molding damage with minimal expense. (With pictures)

My dog is a good dog (most of the time). Sometimes he gets bored/lonely/hungry(?) and decides that the best course of action is to claw at my walls or chew on my molding. The property management company will try to extract the maximum amount possible for any damage, and I want to minimize that, if I can. (Pictures are extra-big resolution)

First, the molding. In his's defense, he hasn't chewed on the molding since he was a teething puppy, but several corners have been rounded down nonetheless. (Pic 1, Pic 2). What should I do about that? Replacing the molding seems like it would be expensive and time-consuming. I'm tempted to just paint the corners white and hope nobody notices them.

With regards to the wall... what tools do I need to fix this, (I won't have to paint it) and how long should I expect it to take? (Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3).

Is there any reason to contact the leasing agency? Will calling them simply alert them to the damage? Am I better off just letting them charge me what they're going to charge me and letting them do the work?

Finally, and tangentially, aside from keeping him in his crate all day when I'm gone, is there anything I can do to keep him from getting into the walls like that?

Most of my google searches are turning up advertisements for home improvement books.

Things I'm not looking for help with: raising a puppy, legal issues, how to convince someone to marry me and my dog
posted by toomuchpete to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Keeping a dog crated while you're gone isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dogs can feel more secure if they're in their safe place when their pack isn't around. However, you can also try finding toys that occupy his attention and keep him busy. Labs are notorious chewers, but we have a Rhino that lasted for years. You can put peanut butter in the middle to make it more interesting. The Buster cube was also a big hit.

Your pup sure is a cutie. We just lost our yella guy. Your pics brought a (happy) tear to my eye.
posted by Addlepated at 7:10 PM on August 6, 2007

Anyone half way competent is going to notice that right away even if you paint over it. Whether they care is something only you can judge.

That kind of MDF moulding only runs a couple dollars a foot. Luckily it's painted so you'll only need to replace the actual damage. Cut the old section away, take a piece into the local home improvement borg, match and buy enough to fix all the damage. Install and paint. I'd use a dremel followed with a chisel to remove the damaged sections.

As far as the drywall goes get a container of premixed drywall mud. Build up the patch with a wide putty knife applying in layers less than an 1/8th of an inch thick sanding smooth in between. I like the sandpaper attached to foam blocks for small patches like that. You can use the mud to fix the dings and notches above the damaged moulding too.
posted by Mitheral at 7:12 PM on August 6, 2007

Spraying the walls with bitter orange might work. It's definitely dissuaded our corgi/termite mix from indulging in her favorite snack, computer cables.

And second addlepated-- that dog is ADORABLE.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:18 PM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

You can easily patch the wall with spackle and a putty knife. Just fill in the "divot", smooth it out and sand it down so that it is smooth enough that you don't feel a difference when you run your hand across it.

For the molding, I would just paint it white (all of it on the two sections) so that it is less noticeable.
posted by unccivil at 7:18 PM on August 6, 2007

As palmcorder said, some joint compound and a putty knife will fill in the wall. I'd suggest two coats, as you're always supposed to "mud" thin. Do a coat, sand it down with a sanding sponge from the home improvement store, and then do it again. The trick is to significantly past the edges of the scratch and then when you sand the edges will blend perfectly. It's up to you to paint it then.

For the moulding, the challeng is going to be matching the previous pattern so that it matches the rest of the house. If that's not a concern, or if you can find it at Lowe's or HD or wherever, that styro-junk is really pretty cheap. Some finishing nails and the previously mentioned joint compound for the nailheads + paint = unvisible damages.

For what it's worth, you want...crap what's it called, the joint compound w/ the green lid. Speed...it's from a company called LaFarge. Maybe it's rapid coat. Anyway, it dries about 20x faster than normal mud, meaning you can do multiple coats in 1 day. Buy a big tub, ~$16, put in a little water until it's softer but stays put when you dig in it, and save the rest for another day.
posted by TomMelee at 7:27 PM on August 6, 2007

I have repaired things like this with very little experience. It didn't cost very much and the results were not that bad. The wall look in pretty bad shape anyway and I doubt it is all from the dog. The wall is cracked all along the edge, likely where a board runs behind the drywall framing the stairs. If you do a reasonable job and paint the molding and wall it will be in better shape than when you moved in. If they question it, tell them the dog added to the existing damage and you fixed them both.

For the molding they make a type product called liquid wood. There are different brands, but they are mostly just types of epoxy that are a little thicker and can be "formed." It shouldn't be too hard to find. You might have to build it up in layers. Then you can form it with a straight edge to match the existing molding. You may want to practice a bit first. You could replace just the sections that are damaged as others suggested, but this may take more effort to match up the seams. You can also fill in the nicks in the molding with this.

For the wall part, this should be fairly easy. Our dog chewed all the way through the drywall, and in college we ended up with a large hole in the wall from an unsuccessful game of studfinder. You just have to fill in some large grooves. Get some plaster and a large trowel. Sand down the areas around the holes. Fill the deeper marks and let the plaster dry. Then fill the outer hole and use the large trowel to make the wall "flat". You can also fill in the cracks along the stair frame and the other small nicks in the wall. then sand everything flat when the plaster dries. Paint. Stand back and admire.

My only other advice is to use a paint with an "eggshell" finish. This supposedly goes on a little thicker than some of the other finished and can help hide the small imperfections of your work.

I would estimate you could do everything for less than $100 and you will have some useful tools at the end. If you have a Lowe's/Home Depot type store around, they usually have free classes that can show you how to do this stuff. My outlook was that it was something i wanted to learn, and this gave me a chance to practice on somebody else's house.
posted by Yorrick at 7:42 PM on August 6, 2007

We use bitter apple for things like this and it works pretty well. The rare dog will actually like the bitter apple, though.
posted by Mid at 8:01 PM on August 6, 2007

Mid, my Lab would eagerly await the spraying of the bitter apple so he could go snarf it off of whatever got sprayed. That's when we realized that alternate playtoys and/or crating would be our only solutions.
posted by Addlepated at 8:34 PM on August 6, 2007

Response by poster: Very helpful all the way around, mostly confirming my suspicions. I'll probably go the "replace the molding" route, as it seems like that won't take significantly longer than painting it.

I'll have to try the bitter apple, although it looks to me like the wall is from him laying on his back and clawing at the wall... though I could be wrong.

I hope you all will excuse me if I don't pass along your compliments... he's got quite the ego already.

(Also, I don't mind crating him all day... but I'm sure he'd prefer to be allowed to roam and have the crate as an option)
posted by toomuchpete at 8:45 PM on August 6, 2007

My parents dog would eat walls like that when he could hear water running in the pipes behind them. If that is a possible reason try not to have anything running when you're not there (sprinklers, washing machine etc).
posted by fshgrl at 8:51 PM on August 6, 2007

Given the shape that the molding is in, it honestly doesn't look horrendous. As stated, that stuff is going to run about $1.10 a linear foot at the home depot, but replacing it is going to look ugly -- unless you pull the long section completely off the wall, you're going to have to butt join the molding (this is a flat end to end fit), which means a very visible seam.

I'd try a different cheap and fast solution for the molding. I'd hit it with 110 grit sandpaper to get rid of some of the "fuzzies" you appear to have, and then grab a putty knife and painter's putty, and basically fill the gap. Painter's putty doesn't sand, so take your time, get it close, and feather the edges into the molding with your fingers. Try to match the sheen of the molding when you paint it; if you can't tell, go with less sheen -- that will hide things better.

For the wall, what you want looks like a wire mesh and is in the same place you'll find the painter's putty. Take your 5-in-1 and attack the edges to get away any loose stuff. Cut and place the mesh on the gap, and fill with joint compound. Once you're done, use that 110 sandpaper to feather out the edges and smooth the surface. Fix any minor issues with spackling.
posted by bfranklin at 6:33 AM on August 7, 2007

This isn't a big deal or excessive damage.

The cost of tools and supplies should be met for less than 100$ and 3 days involving an hour or two per day as suitable (maximum) labour time allotment.

The way I would tackle this project.


Stain kill (spray can)

2 plaster knives (very flexible, one 5 or 6 inches wide, one 4 or 5 inches you need 2 because you hold plaster with one and work with the other.

A 12 or 15 inch trowel would be nice but for the amount you would ever use it an unnecessary investment.

Joint compound (go with a lightweight compound rather than general purpose as it is easier to work and sand. A five pound bucket should be enough but costs peanuts so maybe buy a bit more)

Fibertape (fiberglass mesh tape will be use to fix the cracks)

Pole sander (sanding block that holds a 1/2 of a sheet, cut lengthwise, of sandpaper and can be attached to a pole, you won't need a pole, just the sander)

For sanding plaster, 150 grit sand paper is what is used rougher than this and you will scratch the repair.

Latex caulking (a squeeze tube for your needs).

A medium / fine sanding sponge could also be tossed into the basket.

Painting stuff. (brush, roller, pan)

A fan and drop cloth (probably have)

Day one is prep and the thing that will take the most time, steps and attention is the wall, so this is where we commence.

Remove any loose paper around the damage. Don't pick and fuss and start peeling the wall. What is visibly no longer attached should be scraped or cut away.

Next ensuring the floor and surroundings are protected, spray the area with stain kill focusing particularly on the visible paper.

These two steps are done to give a solid surface for the joint compound to bond to. Joint compound applied directly to the brown paper will bubble as it peels the paper apart when it dries and shrinks.

With the stain kill drying (small note, always turn the can upside down and spray out the tip when done so it can be used in the future) you may not wish work in the area for the 15 minutes it takes to dry as it smells quite strong. Also you might need give a second coat, because the paper is a heavy drinker.

Once smell level appropriate, I would move to the cracks around the metal corners. These need to be opened. Take one of your plaster knives and stick a corner into the crack and drag it along creating a V shaped groove. This is done to relax the crack. Next take the fibertape and stick it over the now grooved crack for reinforcement.

Plaster knives when brand new are too slippery to work properly, give them a sanding so they grip the plaster before starting or you'll find more plaster on the floor than wall.

Coat the fibertape so it is just covered.

Fill the indentation as best you can. I wouldn't use fibertape on the ripped up section, the plaster should bond fine there and the wall appears solid. Don't try to make it perfect, this is just a rough coat. Don't over work it, apply, smooth and leave alone.

With the first coat of plaster drying I would move to the trims. I wouldn't replace them, just smooth out the damage with a finger and some of the same joint compound. Just smear it on and once dry you will be able to sand the details back in.

The worst offence on the trim is the opening on the corner displayed in first picture. This should be caulked. For the tiny amount of caulking you'll need, a squeeze tube of latex caulking rather than gun set up would do.

Clean up, set up a fan, to speed things along, day one is done. The shopping will probably take longer than the work.

Day two, put a second coat of plaster on all repairs. The fibertape will be almost done, the main patch will start to look like something.

You should be able to come back a few hours later especially if fan accelerated and give the final coat, this is a thin coat that takes care of minor imperfections.

Normally you don't sand between coats of plaster, although as a beginner it might help to avoid excess sanding at the end and give better control ... interesting idea.

Day two is done with maybe and hour of labour split in two.

You will always see a difference between the sections you fix and the existing surface unless you glaze the entire wall but any repair will be a net improvement.

Day three, pole sander and 150 grit sand paper evening and smoothing main repairs.

Something else to consider, because your plaster is joining a textured surface there will be a lot of lines in the plaster at the edges from the knife bumping along. The sanding sponge is ideal as you go at the edge areas and erase until conformity is met. Don't sand too much. The goal is to smooth and feather.

Clean up the dust and paint as desired.

Yorrick, the finish of a paint has no bearing on its thickness. The reason an egshel finish will hide defects is that it doesn't have a high level of luster or sheen. By reflecting less light, abnormalities are muted.
posted by phoque at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2007

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