Building the average U.S. home requires more than 7 metric tons of gypsum, the raw material from which drywall is created.
Considering its prevalence, drywall almost certainly comprises part of your home's structure. Drywall is a versatile and cost-effective material for walls and ceilings. It also enhances your home's insulation, and it is fire-resistant.
For all its advantages, however, drywall can suffer dents, cracks, and holes over time. Nevertheless, another advantage of drywall is the relative ease of its repairs. Drywall repair is, in fact, relatively easy and cost-effective, especially if you know when to involve the professionals.
Read on to learn how to repair drywall and when it's best to let the Keller drywall experts handle that process.
How to Repair Drywall
Damage to drywall can include cracks, dents, and holes. Like any damage, it can range from minor to extensive. Knowing what kind of damage you're dealing with and how extensive it is can help you determine if you should attempt to complete the repair yourself or call an expert.
How to Repair Drywall Cracks
Drywall cracks are among the most common and easiest damage to repair. As your house settles, cracks sometimes develop along the walls and ceilings. In most cases, these cracks are more of a cosmetic issue than a sign of structural problems.
However, the type of crack, along with its condition and location, can tell you more about its cause. Knowing the cause of the crack can, in turn, help you decide if it is a cause for concern and a situation better handled by a drywall expert.
Fine Cosmetic Cracks
Fine, straight cracks on the ceiling or along doors and windows are usually minor. They often result from the normal settling of your house. They can also stem from drywall joints, or seams, that weren't sufficiently reinforced with drywall mud and tape.
You may be able to fix these minor cracks yourself. If you choose to do so, you'll need the following materials:
- Drywall compound
- Drywall tape
- Utility knife
- Joint Knife
- Sandpaper and hand sander or a sanding sponge
- Drywall screws and drill (optional)
- Face mask
Once you've gathered your materials, complete the following steps for a minor drywall crack repair.
Use the utility knife to widen the crack and cut it into a "V." This step will help the drywall compound adhere.
Test the strength of the wall by pushing on the crack with your hands. If the wall moves, use the drywall screws and drill to attach it to the closest stud.
Cover the crack with drywall tape.
Cover the tape with drywall compound, and smooth the compound with the joint knife.
After the first coat of compound has dried, apply and smooth at least two more coats of compound.
Use sandpaper and a hand sander or a sanding sponge to create a smooth surface for painting. Wear a face mask during this step to avoid inhaling fine particles.
While the process of repairing minor drywall cracks is relatively simple, its success requires choosing the right materials. Various types of drywall compound, tape, and fasteners are available, and each has its advantages and uses. Choosing the wrong one can complicate even the simplest repair.
An expert can help you choose the right materials. He can also ensure that your drywall repair looks professional. This is especially important if you're making repairs before selling your home.
While you may be able to improve your home's appearance by repairing minor cracks yourself, some cracks are more serious and require professional help.
If your ceiling is spiderwebbed with even minor cracks, the thickness of the original drywall compound may be the problem. These tiny cracks likely don't indicate a structural problem, but they can be unsightly.
You may choose to improve the room's appearance by sanding the surface and reapplying the drywall compound. However, the widespread nature of the job may warrant a professional.
Another defect in the construction of your house can also cause drywall cracks. If the homebuilder attached the drywall panels to the roof's trusses, the drywall may crack when temperature fluctuations cause the trusses to expand and pull up.
Because they require detaching the drywall from the trusses and reattaching it to another base, these cracks warrant a professional.
Cracks that are more than 1/8" wide, cracks that occur along with a sagging ceiling, and cracks that are discolored are also cause for concern. These cracks can indicate a structural problem or a leak. Fixing these cracks yourself risks papering over a serious issue. Over time, this will allow the problem to return and worsen.
A better solution is to call a professional. An expert can help you investigate the cause of these more significant cracks. He can then correct the problem at its source.
How to Repair a Hole in Drywall
Like cracks, minor and isolated holes or dents in drywall can be a do-it-yourself project. Again, this requires gathering the appropriate materials, applying the necessary skill, and knowing when to call the experts.
Gathering the Materials
To repair an isolated hole or dent in drywall, you'll need the following materials:
- Drywall panels
- Drywall compound
- Drywall tape
- Hardwood plywood or scrap lumber
- Carpenter's square
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Utility knife
- Joint Knife
- Sandpaper and hand sander or a sanding sponge
- Drywall screws and drill
- Face mask
A few of these materials warrant further discussion. As with drywall crack repair, your success in repairing holes in drywall depends on choosing the right materials.
First, when choosing drywall panels for a patch, you'll need to match the thickness of the new panel with the thickness of the existing panel. You'll also need to choose from a range of drywall types. These include:
- Regular, or whiteboard, drywall, which is the most economical and most common
- Green board drywall, which is moisture-resistant but not waterproof
- Paperless drywall, which is stronger and more moisture-resistant
- Purple drywall, which, again, offers superior moisture- and mold-resistance
- Type X drywall, which is fire-resistant
- Soundproof drywall
Second, you'll need to choose the right kind of compound for the job. Drywall mud, or joint compound, is available in four main types.
All-purpose compound comes in premixed buckets. Because it dries slowly, it is the easiest to work with.
The all-purpose compound is also available in a lightweight variety, which is easier to sand and can be best for the final coat. However, the lightweight all-purpose compound is not as strong and shouldn't be used to embed the tape.
Most first-timers choose all-purpose compounds for their convenience. However, professionals know that specialized types of compounds are suited to each step and coat.
Taping compound is the best mud for embedding tape into a repair and for repairs around doors and windows. It is also among the hardest compounds. This adds strength to the wall but makes it very difficult to sand. It is, therefore, not well-suited as a final coat.
Topping compound, sold as a powder, is stronger than all-purpose compound but not as strong as taping compound. Thus, it remains relatively easy to use. It is not recommended for the first coat over drywall tape, but it is the best option for the topcoat because it is easier to sand.
A quick-setting compound is an option when you need to work quickly. Available with drying times from 5-90 minutes, setting compound may be the best option if you want to apply multiple coats in one day. It can also help if you live in a region with high humidity.
You'll need to mix a quick-setting compound before you use it. You should also keep in mind that this type of compound includes a lightweight option. This formula is easier to sand and is, therefore, best for the final coat. Regular quick-setting compounds can be very difficult, if not impossible, to sand.
Drywall Joint Tape
Drywall Joint Tape is used to cover seams ("joints") or cracks in drywall. It includes two main types: fiberglass and paper.
Because it is self-adhesive, first-time DIYers often find fiberglass drywall tape easiest to use. The mesh texture also prevents air bubbles from forming.
Fiberglass tape is, however, more difficult to use in corners. It is also not as strong as paper tape. If you choose fiberglass tape, be sure to strengthen it by embedding it with a setting compound.
Paper tape is the stronger drywall joint tape option. It is also pre-creased, which makes it best for working in corners.
The disadvantage of paper tape is the time it takes to apply. Paper tape is not self-adhesive, so you'll need to apply a layer of compound before applying the tape. Then, you'll need to wait for that layer to dry before continuing with your project.
The paper tape also includes a reinforced option, which is lined with metal or plastic strips. These strips don't make the tape stronger, but they can make it easier to cut precise lines.
When choosing drywall fasteners, screws are better than nails because nails are more likely to loosen over time and pop through the patch. Narrowing your fastener options down to screws still leaves you with several choices.
First, you need to choose a screw of an appropriate length for the thickness of your drywall panel.
Next, you need to choose the type of thread. If you're working with wood studs, choose coarse threads; if you're working with metal studs, choose fine threads.
Finally, choosing drywall screws with the thinnest shanks will make the process of securing them easier. It will also prevent shredded paper from gathering around the head.
Drywall Hole Repair: A Step-by-Step Guide for Patch Jobs
After you've gathered the right materials, it's time to get to work. Several steps are involved in drywall repair.
- Use the stud finder to locate the studs nearest to either side of the hole.
- Use the carpenter's square to outline the damaged area you'll remove. The area you remove should extend at least an inch from the top and bottom of the hole. It should also extend between the centers of the nearest stud on either side of the hole.
- Measure a piece of scrap lumber or plywood so that it is 2-4 inches longer than the patch.
- Attach the lumber to the drywall so that it extends vertically down the middle of the square hole you've created in the wall. This piece will provide additional stud-like support for the patch.
- Use the carpenter's square and drywall knife to measure and cut a piece of drywall for the patch.
- Secure the patch to the support you've just installed. Be sure to place the drywall screws at least an inch from the edges of the patch.
- Cover the seams with drywall tape. If you use paper tape and compound, you'll need to wait for the compound to dry before moving on to the next step.
- Embed the tape with drywall compound. If you're using different types of compound for different coats, remember to use a taping compound or quick-setting compound for this step.
- Smooth the first coat of compound with the joint knife.
- After the first coat of compound has dried, apply and smooth at least two additional coats. Remember that topping compound is best for the final coat.
- Use sandpaper and a hand sander or a sanding sponge to create a smooth surface for painting. Wear a face mask during this step to avoid inhaling fine particles.
Drywall Repair: A "Simple" Do-It-Yourself Job or a Job for the Professionals?
While the process of completing a "minor" drywall repair is relatively "simple" and, yes, possible for some DIYers, each of the above steps actually involves making several decisions. Choosing the wrong materials or using the wrong type of material at the wrong stage of the process can complicate, delay, or even ruin your project.
Each step also involves the skill and precision that professional handymen have developed through their training and the thousands of jobs they have completed before yours. It's often best, therefore, to involve an expert even when you're patching a single hole in your drywall.
When you need to patch multiple dents or holes, it's best not to patch at all but to replace the entire sheet of drywall. This process is even more intense and best left to the experts.
Drywall Repair Professionals Are Like Sturdy Walls -- You Can Lean On Them
By the time you've done your research, gathered your supplies, and invested your own labor, you're likely to find that professional drywall repair costs can easily pay for themselves. Many homeowners choose to make that investment and lean on the services of a professional drywall repairman.
As you decide how to proceed with your drywall repair, the experts at Mr. Handyman of Keller, Flower Mound, and Alliance are here to help. Contact us to ask questions or request a service today!