Drywall is relatively simple to install and easy to repair. It's also easy to repair badly, which can leave a lumpy mess that declares "shoddy" to anyone who enters the room.
It's best to do a repair with three or four thin coats of compound--if possible leaving sanding for just the last coat. Also, "the most important thing with a repair is to build the joint out wider than you would normally," says drywall contractor Rick Schwartz, who serves as secretary treasurer of Marietta Drywall in Marietta, Ga. The key is to leave a wide and very shallow slope on all sides, he says.
A drywall repair toolkit is simple. It consists of flexible knives in 3-, 6- and 8-in. widths, an inside-corner knife, a utility knife, a hammer, a screwdriver, a drywall saw and a drill. Some repairs also may require a hand sander, a hacksaw, a nail bar and a level. Chances are good that you already own these. As for materials, drywall compound, mesh tape, paper tape, drywall nails and screws take care of most repairs.
Note that in some cases we show mesh tape with lightweight or all-purpose compound applied over it. Strictly speaking, for maximum strength mesh tape is best used with setting-type drywall compound. For small repairs, however, that's impractical. If you're really concerned about strength, use paper tape for all repairs. Be advised that it's more difficult to work with in some of the repairs we show.
Watch The Weight
If you have several large repairs to do and you'll be buying a sheet or two of drywall, be advised that a sheet of regular 1/2-in. drywall weighs about 1.7 pounds per square foot. That means a 1/2-in. 4 x 8-ft. sheet weighs a bit more than 54 pounds (a 3/8-in. sheet weighs almost 45 pounds). If you stand it on edge and it falls over, someone--especially a child--could get hurt.
Beware Of Buckets
Five-gal. compound buckets pose a drowning or suffocation hazard to small children--when they are new and filled with compound, or later after they are cleaned and used for car washing and other jobs.
Clean Up The Dust
It also bears mentioning that drywall sanding dust is a respiratory irritant. Wear a dust mask when sanding to block airborne gypsum and silica particles. Also, spread a plastic dropcloth nearby. Wipe dust off the dropcloth with a damp sponge, then clean the surrounding areas with a shop vacuum, let the air settle, and finish vacuuming with your household vac.
Step 1: Compound Interest
The two most common drywall compounds are lightweight and all-purpose. They both are easy to work with, and have a shelf life at room temperature of about nine months. If you have an entire house to repair, buy a 4.5-gal. bucket of the material ($11 to $15) and keep using it until the project is done. For small repairs, buy a 1-gal. container, but be advised that you might pay nearly as much for that as you will for the 4.5-gal. size, depending on where you shop. For a few minor repairs, buy a quart (about $5). The differences between the two are that the lightweight product weighs about a third less than all-purpose, it dries more quickly and takes less force to sand.
Step 2: Doorknob Damage
Use a peel-and-stick patch to cover doorknob holes. The patch is an aluminum screen covered by fiberglass mesh. Peel off its backing and press the patch in place.
Step 3: Doorknob Damage
Use a 4- or 6-in. drywall knife to apply drywall compound over the mesh. Apply three covering coats in all.
Step 4: Battered Corners
Begin a repair to a severely damaged outside corner by cutting away the metal corner bead with a hacksaw.
Step 5: Battered Corners
Use a nail bar to pry off the damaged section of corner bead. Hold the new corner bead in place and mark its length.
Step 6: Battered Corners
Cut the new section of corner bead to length and attach it with nails. If the surrounding paint is glossy, sand it before proceeding to the next step.
Step 7: Battered Corners
Finish the repair with several coats of drywall compound. The last coats are applied with an 8-in. taping knife.
Step 8: Creeping Cracks
Use an abrasive-coated foam block, known as a sanding sponge, to smooth a working crack. These cracks often occur below a window or above a door
Step 9: Creeping Cracks
Apply a thin coat of joint compound to the cracked area. Sand it smooth and apply a second coat if necessary.
Step 10: Creeping Cracks
Spray elastic crack coating on the repaired area. We used Good-Bye Cracks, produced by Guardsman Products; www.goof-off.com.
Step 11: Nails that Go Pop
Nail and screw pops arise from lumber shrinkage. First, twist a utility knife into the wall to carve away the joint compound from above a popped nail or screw.
Step 12: Nails that Go Pop
Tighten the screw (usually a quarter-turn is sufficient) or tap in the nail. (If the nail seems weak, drive in a second one next to it.)
Step 13: Nails that Go Pop
Use a small drywall knife to apply lightweight joint compound above the screw or nailhead. Three light coats should do.
Step 14: Soggy Ceilings
Use a hand sander and coarse sanding mesh to remove texture and smooth out the area when repairing a ceiling.
Step 15: Soggy Ceilings
If water damage has caused a drywall ceiling to sag, reattach it along the seam by pressing up and nailing the drywall to the joist.
Step 16: Soggy Ceilings
Water stains will bleed through a repair. To stop them, apply a coat of stain-sealing, shellac-based primer.
Step 17: Soggy Ceilings
To blend a repair with the surrounding texture, use a roller to apply a mixture of drywall compound thinned with water.
Step 18: Soggy Ceilings
Before the drywall compound dries, add texture to it with a short-handled stomping brush.
Step 19: Inside Corner Cleanup
Cut out a piece of damaged drywall tape in an inside corner, then apply a bed of drywall compound.
Step 20: Inside Corner Cleanup
Fold a piece of paper drywall tape in half and press it into the wet drywall compound.
Step 21: Inside Corner Cleanup
Use an inside-corner knife to smooth the drywall compound. Hold the knife at a slight angle to the corner.
Step 22: Large Hole
To repair a large hole, first draw a square around it. Use a level to center one side of the square on a nearby stud.
Step 23: Large Hole
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