Drywall Patching: Tips to Help the Damage Disappear

Drywall is the top choice for walls and ceilings of most American homes. The low price point is one reason, making drywall quite popular. However, it’s not exactly reliable. Drywall is still prone to some surface flaws, like cracks and holes. Whether these surface flaws have been made intentionally or accidentally, they do happen. Another disadvantage of drywall is its porosity, which makes it susceptible to mold and mildew as long as there is constant level of moisture and humidity in the air.

Fortunately, patching drywall holes and painting over them is a relatively easy project for any DIY-er

But patching and painting drywall does not come without some challenges. For homeowners who would rather hire professionals for the job, Custom Painting, Inc. has painters skilled and experienced in patching, replacing, and painting drywall. This house had missing sheetrock (drywall), so our crew fixed the opening and painted the room.

The project – repairing and painting damaged drywall

Custom Painting, Inc. worked on one of its recent projects involving a house that had missing sheet rock. So, our crew fixed the opening and painted the room.

Here are some of the challenges our painters encountered while fixing and painting drywall:

  • Bad patches – Bad patches often top the list of challenges for painters. There are some patches consisting of cracks or nail holes. They should be filled with spackle or compound but are often not feathered or sanded. Or, if the flaw is fixed, it is filled with tinted compound that is noticeably different from the wall where the damage was.
  • Drywall dust – Sanding drywall can result in talcum-like dust. This happens while sanding drywall with the spackle or compound produces and sawdust-like dust that usually falls to the floor rather than drifting into the air. Whichever dust is, it’s difficult to avoid for painters and carpenters.
  • Damage to the surrounding areas – Damage could include to floors, light switches covered with paint, furniture stains, drywall spots, and many others – and all of them pose a challenge to painters while dealing with drywall.
  • Drywall holes – Drywall holes come in different shapes and sizes. They can be caused by bumps (such as doors or furniture being hit against the wall) or slashes. Households with pets and young children often sees the drywall take a frequent beating.
  • Drywall replacement – There are situations where replacing drywall is absolutely necessary due to the following reasons:
    • Discoloration
    • Mold and mildew
    • Bigger cracks and holes
        • Drywall rot

Drywall damage

What are the types of drywall?

Drywall does not come in one, two, but many types:

  • Regular drywall (or whiteboard) – Regular drywall is the most used drywall used for homes. It is usually made of gypsum, is ½-inch thick, and measures 4 feet by feet. It’s also available in lengths of up to 16 feet for rooms with high ceilings. It is best for walls and ceilings in low-traffic areas like living rooms and bedrooms but not recommended for areas with high moisture and humidity, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and basement.
  • Plasterboard (or blue board) – Plasterboard is used for veneer or imitation plastering, so they usually require thin coats of plaster coating to be installed properly over the surface. Plasterboard’s face paper is highly absorbent, which lets a plaster coat stick to the drywall better. Plasterboard has a high moisture and mold resistance and there are lesser steps involved in veneer plastering. It is best suited for bathrooms, kitchens, washrooms, laundry rooms, basements, or any place with a lot of moisture or wet areas.
  • Soundproof drywall – It is made of layers of combined materials like gypsum, polymer, and wood fibers to increase the sound transmission class (STC), making soundproof drywall a bit thicker than regular drywall. The disadvantage of this type of drywall is that it’s difficult to cut and install. Because of its soundproofing qualities, this drywall is used in areas where noise is a problem or when someone requires quietness in the room.
  • Fire-resistant drywall (or Type X drywall) – Fire-resistant drywall is commonly used in rooms, garages, and other buildings as it is required by many local building codes. It is made of fiberglass and has a significant thickness, which slows down the spread of fire.
  • Mold-resistant drywall (or green board or moisture-resistant drywall) – Mold-resistant drywall has a green covering. Thus, this drywall does better in resisting mold than regular drywall. Its fiberglass mesh is non-organic, which takes away the food source needed for mold to grow. But keep in mind that it is not waterproof so don’t install it if it’s going to come in contact with water. It’s just water-resistant, not waterproof. This drywall is used in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, laundry rooms, and utility rooms.

Side view of damaged areaTools and materials

The use of quality tools and materials helps you restore your home to its original appearance and aesthetics. The following is a materials list of items needed for repairing drywall:


  • A hand sander or drill with sanding attachment
  • Sandpaper (Fine-grit or 150- to 220-grit)
  • A double-strap dust mask
  • Face mask or goggles
  • Paintbrush or paintbrushes
  • A caulk gun
  • Wall anchors
  • A drill
  • A mallet or hammer
  • A screwdriver

Materials you’ll need:

  • Joint compound or spackle
  • Caulk
  • A primer to match the paint type
  • The same type of paint used for the original wall

Drywall addedTips and tricks in patching drywall

1) Take time to cover all surfaces before doing essential work

  • Move the furniture outside the work area. But if moving them out is impossible, push them to the center of the room or cover them to avoid dust or paint damage.
  • Use drop cloths to cover the floor to protect it from damage.
  • Remove the switch plates if they are on the wall to be repaired. Then cover the outlets with painter’s tape.
  • Start covering the floor until it is completely covered. If needed, add more layers to protect the floor from dust and tool damage.
  • Place plastic sheeting over the drop cloths for easy cleanup during the work process.
  • Cover any remaining furniture in the room and all other horizontal surfaces like shelves
  • Place additional plastic sheeting over the doorways to keep dust and debris in the room.

2) How to remove water damage from drywall

Ugly stains, a sagging surface, or mold and mildew spots can be signs of underlying water damage in your drywall.

As drywall is quite porous, prolonged or frequent exposure to moisture can lead to loss of structural integrity issues.

Here’s how to remove moisture from the drywall before doing other necessary work:

  • Take away the wet or damaged drywall insulation foam.
  • Let the interior structure dry completely before proceeding to other essential steps.

Hole in drywall covered3) Tips to tighten loose drywall

Loose drywall is usually the result of screws or conical anchors losing their grip on the drywall. They may have been improperly installed, rusted over time, or removed with prior work on the drywall. The problem is that a bigger hole may no longer sufficiently hold the screw, causing the drywall to become loose.

Consider the instructions below to secure loose drywall:

  • Place the loose drywall above the studs.
  • Drill a small hole, smaller than the anchor or screw.
  • Tap the anchor with a mallet or hammer to start it.
  • Insert the anchor.
  • Secure the anchor with a screwdriver into the drywall and then the stud underneath it.

It’s better to replace the old screws or anchors with new ones.

Covering the seams

4) Tips to sand patched drywall

Sanding the patched areas of your drywall is necessary to achieve a smooth and even surface.

  • Wear a pair of protective goggles and a mask which is rated for nuisance dust to protect yourself from the dust as you’re sanding drywall.
  • For sanding smaller patched areas, use a hand sander, a pack of 150-grit precut sandpaper to fit the hand sander, and sanding sponge to sand corners. A pole sander would also be helpful for sanding hard-to-reach areas.
  • For sanding bigger patched areas, it’s better to use a power sander. This tool saves you time and effort, not to mention give the surface a smooth and even finish. But since this tool is powerful, begin using 150-grit sandpaper to avoid sanding the surface too much or even causing damage to it. Finish your sanding with an finer sandpaper – 180-grit to 220-grit – for the best results.

5) Prime over glossy surfaces tips

Prepare an existing glossy surface for paint (or other material) is necessary to achieve better patches and texture bonding for the new topcoat.

  • First, make sure that the surface is clean and dry. It should be free from anything that could prevent the topcoat or any material from adhering properly.
  • You can use any primer, but a “super-grip” primer is highly recommended for applying over sleek and glossy surfaces. You don’t even have to sand the surface before priming.
  • Apply only one coat of super-grip primer.
  • Allow the primer time to dry completely.

Smoothing the edges

6) Tips to apply a thin layer or compound

“Skim coating” refers to a home improvement technique consisting of smoothing damaged or worn drywall with a thin layer of premixed joint compound to improve how the surface looks.

Add just a thin enough layer of the joint compound and allow it dry between applications. If the compound is a bit too thick, add some water to dilute it.

  • Prepare the work area by using drop cloths on nearby walking surfaces. Tape off any areas with painter’s take (like baseboards and trim you don’t want to paint) to protect them from overspraying or paint drips.
  • A mixing attachment added to your power drill will save time and effort when mixing the compound to achieve the thin, yogurt-like consistency.
  • If daylight is not sufficient or almost absent, use an angled light source to the surface where you will apply the compound.
  • Apply the joint compound with a roller. Use less than 1/8” of the joint compound to the surface. Press the roller a little harder into the wall to force out air bubbles. Apply the joint compound one at a time so that you will be able to smooth it out before it has the chance to dry. Here’s a pro tip: Don’t panic if you see a little cracking on your first coat. Simply mix the following coat a little thicker when you add fresh mud.
  • Use a trowel, skimming blade, taping knife, or an edged tool to smooth out the area where the compound was applied.

Add one or more thin layers of the joint compound, each one applied thinner and wider than the last will help you spread the patched area to surrounding surfaces for the seamless transition while minimizing dust.

Smoothed edges into original wall

Dust control

It’s necessary to contain dust while sanding drywall. Here’s how to keep dust at a minimum:

  • First things first:  Be sure to wear your dust mask and a pair of goggles or any other eye protection. You can also wear a face shield and goggles over your dusk mask for additional protection.
  • Add a seal at entry points to help you contain dust from going into adjoining rooms.
  • Remove all electrical plate covers and use painter’s take to protect switches and other electric outlets.
  • Lightly sand the new texture for a smooth and even finish.

Apply a drywall primer

A regular latex primer will do fine for drywall. It dries quickly and doesn’t peel, chip, or crack. After priming the surface, paint it with latex or acrylic paint.

A PVA primer or emulsion primer is especially ideal for new, bare, and unpainted drywall. It can be used for both latex and oil-based paints.

One coat of latex or PVA primer provides sufficient coverage for the topcoat to adhere to. A primer can also expose certain areas that need additional attention before applying the topcoat, such as a newly patched area. A primer also enhances the paint’s color and sheen.

Replace baseboards or trim. Caulk joints

The most used baseboard materials are wood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and vinyl.

  • Wood – Wood is probably the most popular type of baseboard. It is usually made from natural wood such as pine, poplar, or oak. It can be painted or stained. The cost of wood baseboard can vary depending on the type, but it can get expensive, especially with exotic wood such as teak.
  • MDF – MDF is one of the most affordable baseboard options, and the low cost is the driver behind its popularity. MDF comes in different sizes and profiles and is usually pre-primed. It can be molded into different shapes but is prone to dents and warping, especially when exposed.
  • PVC or vinyl – Generally, PVC is easy to work with. However, it is less forgiving with saws and cutting than wood. While PVC baseboard is impervious to water damage, it can be very fragile. One small thump can easily leave a dent or even a large hole in it, making PVC almost impossible to repair. Replacement is the only option with damaged PVC baseboard.

Check out the tips to replace baseboard trim and caulk joints:

  • Install any baseboard or trim area.
  • Caulk joints and the top of baseboards, where they meet the wall with paintable caulk. This will create a nice finish, making a significant impact to the look of your room.

Paint over patched area

Paint over the patched area

Paint the newly patched area with thin coats of latex or acrylic paint. Continue applying to cover beyond the patched area to arrive at a seamless transition to the surrounding surface.

Clean up after the work is complete

  • Strip off any painter’s tape very gently as the paint still dries.
  • Clean off any wet paint drips and splatters by using a clean and damp cloth.
  • If latex paints were used in the project, clean the rollers, brushes and paint trays with running water to clean the paint off.
  • Fold the edges of any drop cloths or plastic sheets you used toward the center to help prevent small spills or drips on nearby surfaces.
  • Give the paint time to dry completely before putting back furniture and re-installing wall decor and lighting devices, etc.

Completed drywall repairsConclusion

The above points are several potential challenges to consider when interior drywall is damaged and how to prepare for interior painting. Custom Painting, Inc. has the experience to transform old and tired-looking homes into homes that will be the envy of your neighborhood! We are committed to providing only the highest-quality workmanship and customer service that our clients deserve.