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Drywall Repairs a Common Problem In Every Home

A common problem in every home is drywall repair.  No matter how well the wallboard is hung and finished, eventually you will need to do some repairs. With expansion and contraction through out the day and seasons, the ridged materials that are the structure of our homes are bound to show some cracks.  Some drywall repairs are the product of daily life in a busy household.  Doorknobs can cause small holes in walls and eventually nails or screws can pop the drywall compound loose.  Another common situation many are faced with is patching large hole and cracks.  Even extremely bad damage is repairable.

"Only some basic skills, tools and joint compounds are needed for most repairs."

Basic Drywall Tools and What You May Need in Your Drywall Repair Tool Kit

A basic tool kit for repairs is a good drywall mud pan, set of taping and finishing knifes, sanding sponges (course/medium) and a razor knife with sharp blades.  Everyone owns some of these tools and just a few additions might be needed.  The following tools will be handy during many drywall repair projects, but some are for when entire rooms are to be hung and finished.

  • A stainless steel drywall pan is the best and can last a lifetime.  Choose a 12-inch pan with heavy steel construction.  These good pans cost very little and cleanup much better than cheap plastic drywall pans.
  • Taping and finishing knives are needed and good knives will make your job easier.  You will need a combination of knives; 3 and 6-inch for taping and finishing small patches, 8-inch for intermediate finishing and a 12-inch knife for the final application of patching compound.
  • Hawk and trowel for the adventurous do-it-yourselfer.  This is the preferred tools for finishing for many professional drywallers.
  • Cutting drywall is easy with a sharp razor knife or drywall saw.  Both should be a part of your tool kit. Use a drywall rasp to smooth the cut edges.
  • A drywall hammer should be the only hammer used to set fasteners.  This hammer has a convex shape head to minimize damage to the face paper.
  • A good T-square.  This is a large, 4-ft square used for marking and acting as a guide during cutting.  You can't do without a good square for cutting a sheet of drywall.
  • 25-ft measuring tape. Longer wider measuring tapes are stiffer and easier to use.
  • Chalk line and blue chalk.  Use a chalk line in situations that are difficult to scribe a straight line between two points on the drywall panel.
  • Drywall lifter is a nifty little tool used to lift the panel an inch or so off the floor with your foot.
  • Screw gun or variable speed drill and screwdriver attachment for installing the wallboard with drywall screws.
  • Mixing paddle and heavy duty drill for mixing large amount of joint compound and water.  A hand mixer can also be used.
  • Sanding tools are a must and can range from a simple medium-course sanding block to specialized drywall sanders.  A pole sander will make quick work when sanding large areas. To cut down on the dust a sanding attachment for a shop vac can be used.

Common Drywall Repairs

Popped nails or screws and small dings or dents are the most common needed repairs.  Patching small holes and cracks can be easy.  The smaller the needed drywall repair the easier it is.

Patching Nail Holes and Small Cracks: Some walls can be like a pin cushion with dozens of small nails or thumb tacks.  After removal, all these holes must be filled with a suitable compound; don't rely on the paint to fill these small holes.

"The best patching compound for small holes and cracks is light weight joint compound."

Use your finger to fill the nail hole with spackle.  After application lightly rub the surface to distribute the spackle and blend it with the surrounding surface. The same technique works for small cracks.  A light sanding is recommended after the spackle has dried, typically 1 hour.  For larger nail holes or small dents use a putty knife to fill the area.  After allowing the spackle to completely dry, lightly sand the area and blend the patch with its surroundings.  A second coat may be applied if needed, after the first coat has completely dried.

Popped Nails and Screws

This problem occurs if the drywall isn't fully fastened tightly against the framing, when the framing lumber shrinks or twists, or when an object strikes the wall or ceiling.  This causes the joint compound to become loose and pop off the fastener.  Before any drywall repairs are made, concerning popped nails or screws, make sure the drywall is fully fastened to the framing.  Apply hand pressure next to the popped nail or screw.  The pressure will verify if the drywall panel is loose.  Now apply a new screw 1-1/2 inches away and reset the existing screw. As you install the new screw apply hand pressure to the area.  If the drywall paper surface isn't damaged apply 2 coats of light weight joint compound.  After the patch has fully dried lightly sand the area.  If the paper has torn or the core of the wallboard is damaged the area will need a small piece of paper drywall tape and 3 thin coats of joint compound.  After final sanding apply texture to match the existing finish.

Additional Drywall Repairs

Loose corner bead or structural movement causes some of the most common cracks I encounter.  Corner bead is a metal product that defines the corners in your home.  "Unfortunately, the corner bead is rarely attached securely with nails."

Usually just a few nails and then crimped into the paper of the sheetrock, or wall board.  Then drywall mud is applied, usually without paper tape for reinforcing.  This never lasts very long.  Corners always take a lot of abuse.  Patching compounds can become loose or cracked on the corner bead and will need to be removed and patched.  These small damaged areas on the corners will be unsightly if not properly repaired before painting.  Many types of drywall repairs can be needed.  Like the mishap when moving a large piece of furniture or a water pipe breaks.  A large hole or area needing new drywall and retexturing will be a challenge.  With a few tricks and some confidence almost anybody can success with the large repairs.

Drywall Textures

It is the goal of any drywall repair to be as permanent as possible and blend in with the surrounding areas.  Every home has some type of texture on the walls and ceilings.  Even a smooth wall has many different degrees of texture.  In order to blend the repair you will need to know what type of drywall texture you have.  I mostly deal with orange peel texture and knock down texture.  Occasionally a brush texture or toweled texture is encountered.  These textures can be on the walls and ceilings or with acoustic, popcorn, texture on the ceiling.

Ceiling repairs often include popped nails and water damage due to a leaking roof.  The same techniques apply to ceilings as to walls.  The only exceptions are acoustical ceiling repairs.  This type of ceiling texture hides a lot, but is a bit more difficult and messy when repairs are needed.  On a small scale, patching and different textures are relatively easy to deal with.  Water damage and patching large cracks and holes will have to be dealt with and this is where the fun begins.  Removing a large piece of wallboard and repairing will be difficult at first, but is doable by almost everyone.

The drywall repairs need to be done before priming and painting.  Any repair that requires drywall mud must be primed.  All of this patching, texturing and drywall repair will payoff in the end.  The paint and final look will be more pleasing and if done correctly will stay that way.