Drywall Repair: DIY or DI-Nope

News   /   Dec 12th, 2018

Large hole in the drywallIf your drywall is in need of repair, you might be considering taking on the job yourself. After all, how hard can it be, right? Well, that depends. Specifically, it depends on two things: the size of the area needing repair and the texture of your walls. The larger the repair area and the more textured your wall, the more likely you should hire a professional to help.

Drywall Repair Basics

First, for any repairs, you’ll want to consider the following:

  1. Check for any electrical wires or plumbing – you don’t want to accidentally damage any utilities during your DIY repair or else you’ll have a much larger problem on your hands. Wiring is usually attached to wall studs, so you can use a stud finder to locate the studs or knock on your walls and if you hear a solid sound (versus a hollow sound) then you’re at a stud.
  2. You should always wear protective clothing and gloves, as well as a dust mask and safety goggles, when working with drywall.
  3. If your structure was built before 1978, you are at a higher risk for having lead-based paint on your walls, which means you’ll need to work with a professional.
  4. You’ll need to buy the right supplies and tools for the job (more on that below).

The DIY or DI-Nope Scale

Drywall repairThe smaller the hole, the easier it is to repair. And if you have little to no texturing on your walls, you can probably manage the job yourself. Here’s our handy scale of when to DIY and when to leave it to a professional:

  • For nail holes, dents, or any shallow damage less than an inch in diameter, you can try spackling it yourself. You’ll want to prepare the area by scraping away any loose drywall, then cover with just enough spackle to make it level with the rest of the wall surface. Let it dry for 24 hours. Lightly sand the area to smooth out the edges, then prime and paint.
  • For a hole about the size of a doorknob, you can try using a patch kit. First, you’ll place the self-adhesive mesh patch over the area you’re repairing. Then apply the joint compound with a drywall knife in a crisscross pattern over the mesh. Feather the edges to blend in with the wall. Let it dry for 24 hours, then apply a second coat of joint compound if needed. Lightly sand the area to smooth out the edges, then prime and paint.
  • Large hole in the drywallFor medium-sized holes, you could still try patching it yourself, but you’ll need a larger patch kit. It starts to get tricky the larger the hole you have, so this is usually when we recommend working with a professional.
  • For large holes, you’ll definitely want a professional. Patch kits won’t work; you’ll need an actual piece of drywall and will use a different method to attach it than you would with a patch kit.
  • For a damaged corner (where two studs meet and are covered with drywall), you’ll need yet another technique, so again we recommend a professional.

Textured surfaces present their own set of problems. When you patch a hole, you’ll want to sand it smooth to ensure your work is solid and that you haven’t left any holes or uneven spackle/joint compound. Then, in order to match the existing surface texture, you’ll need to apply texturing on top of your repair. For textures like orange peel texturing, you can buy a can and spray it on. You’ll want to do a small area first to make sure you’ve got the right pressure and consistency, then you can apply it to the whole area. For other types of texturing, you’ll want to use the same tool as was used in the original texturing – brush, sponge, or roller – and the same texturing compound.

However, it can be really hard to match up the texturing correctly. And you’ll need to paint on top of the texture, which can be tricky as well. For anything other than a smooth surface, we recommend working with a professional.

Finishing the Job

Once your repair is complete and dry, and any texturing has been applied, it’s time to prime and paint. If you know the paint color on your existing wall (even better – if you have some left over from the last time you painted) then you’re in good shape. If not, you might want a painting professional to help you match the color. Or this could be a good opportunity to put a fresh coat of paint on your entire wall, especially if it’s been more than 10 years since it was last painted.

Conclusion: DIY or DI-Nope?

It’s tempting to try to fix things yourself, especially if you think you can save time and money. And for a small hole or ding, you can probably handle it no problem (be sure to follow the tips above!). But as the size of the repair increases – or the complexity, in the case of textured walls – you’re better off working with a professional.

At Fritsch Custom Finishes, we have more than 80 years of experience, which means you get hassle-free repairs and peace of mind. When working with a professional painter or finisher, you can count on quality, timeliness, safety, and expertise. You don’t need to learn how to do a one-time job or buy tools that won’t ever get used again. If your walls need repair, give us a call at (217) 546-6784 or email us at to see how we can help fix your drywall!


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