Small Drywall Repair

For small drywall repair, you will see what basic tools and materials you will need from the following outline.

You don’t necessarily have to have exactly what is specified, but at least something in the general neighborhood (operationally speaking).

Tools and Materials

hole in drywall

  • 8″ – 12″ Drywall knife to smooth out compound
  • Putty knife to scoop up joint compound from container
  • Container of joint compound (drywall “mud”)
  • Mesh (see-through) type Drywall Tape used to strengthen the repair piece to surrounding wall
  • Wooden support and 1 1/4″ drywall screws to support drywall repair piece. We have found paint stir sticks very useful in this regard.
  • Measuring tape to measure drywall repair piece (to later cut)

drywall tools

  • Utility Knife use to clean and cut bits of frayed drywall paper off of edges when cleaning
  • Medium grade sandpaper to use when sanding
  • Piece of repair drywall 1/2″ thick is usually sufficient to use for drywall repair

Cut the Hole

drywall saw

With your drywall saw (pictured), begin cutting hole. If not already done, proceed to cut, or “square-up” the hole, as it is much easier to cut and secure a squared drywall repair piece into place. Rather than trying to fit an irregular, awkward-fitting repair piece, this step significantly allows your drywall repair project to become much more efficient.

As stated prior, if this is already basically done for you, go to next step.

Clean Edges of Hole

In this step, make sure to properly clean the edges of the hole of bits of drywall that might be hanging on. Also, take your utility knife, and gently cut any loose, or flaky pieces of paper that might also be hanging on as a result of tearing the drywall away when cutting takes place.

Lastly, take a wet rag and wipe all around the edge to wipe off excess dust and paper.

support for drywall repair piece

Secure Wood Piece to Back of Hole

This step adds support for your small drywall repair piece to which you will secure with drywall screws. Use only coarse, tight-threaded 1 1/4″ screws *. This type of threading will prevent the thin support piece from splitting.

*NOTE – With a phillips-head screwdriver, wallow out a slight depression in the drywall where you will place your screw. The reason is so that the screw will compress lower than the top of the surface of the drywall to allow for complete coverage of joint compound. When sanded, the surface will be smooth and consistent.

drywall repair piece

Secure Small Drywall Repair Piece Into Place

This is the step to actually secure your small drywall repair piece to the wood slat that you previously affixed to the back of wall within the hole.

Using the cut and fitted (according to your measurement) small drywall repair piece, wallow out two holes for the screws to go into, and place the repair piece lightly over the hole. Affix one screw, and then the other. Do not push too hard as you might break the support itself. Just let the screws and slight pressure from you, do the work.

drywall mesh tape

Apply Mesh Drywall Tape

With scissors or utility knife, cut same-length strips of mesh tape for strength and reinforcement, and apply to the repair area. Make sure to cut the strips to overlap the edges of the hole at least two to three inches. In some cases, you might even double-up the number of strips you use, depending on the severity of small drywall repair for the hole.

Why use mesh tape?

In addition to the overall strength it provides, the tape will adhere to the repair area. Just stick it on, and go.

first coat of drywall mud

Apply First Coat of Joint Compound

In this step, take your putty knife and scoop out some mud, put it on the 12″ drywall knife, and apply to repair area.

Always check to see if the consistency of the joint compound is like that of cake icing, rather than that of being thick and pasty. Usually you need to whip the mud into shape.

You can buy a “mud” whipper at any home improvement store. It will affix to any type (cordless or electric) drill. Simply attach, and whip away!

Be sure to learn to gently apply joint compound and not slap it on haphazardly. Put it on slowly and surely. You’ll know you’ve done a goog job by just barely seeing the mesh tape poking through the mud.

And always “feather”, or thinly fan out the edges of your application to provide consistency all around the perimeter of the small drywall repair area.

Let the joint compound dry over night so as to completely set-up and firmly dry.


Completely sand the repair area. Make sure to sand the edges really well to remove any ridges that may have arisen during application and subsequent hardening.
This is your first sanding step.

Second Coat of Joint Compound

This step involves applying your second coat of joint compound. As in the first application, coat the area with mud and extend the coverage out another 6″ – 10″ all around the edges, to add more strength to the repair itself. You’re trying to achieve a consistent application that totally covers any tape that might be showing while maintaining a consistently “flat” look relative to the rest of the wall.

In other words, you don’t want have a small drywall repair job look like a hump in the middle of the wall (hence the reason for feathering out more joint compound beyond your original application).

Second Sanding

With your “medium” grade sand paper, perform the second sanding. Be sure to sand in a circular motion while applying consistent pressure to any one area. You don’t want to “gouge”, or sand a rut into your repair. Just be consistent in your sanding motion. Don’t over-sand especially at the taped area. While generally not a problem, you don’t want to sand the taped areas to the point of taking off what mud you applied earlier.

The best way to know when you’ve sanded enough is to simply take your hand and feel the wall itself.

Does it feel smooth, or rough? If rough, sand a little more.

At this point, you’ll have to determine to add maybe a third (light) coat (you’ll definitely do a third application for large repairs) or let the second coat be the final one. Your “feel” will tell the story for you.

When you’re through with the actual small drywall repair, always prime the wall for proper sealing.

Remember …

For bigger repairs, you’ll need to work with bigger pieces of wooden supports on which to hang your drywall repair piece. Always use existing framing first, and then some type of support after that if needed.

Also …

See skim coat for proper method in repairing light drywall problems commonly associated with wallpaper removal, and general wear and tear.