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Drywall Repair 101

Drywall (also called sheetrock) is a popular construction material for a few reasons. It’s lightweight, fire-resistant and inexpensive. In addition, once it’s painted it leaves a smooth finish that looks great in any home.

However, drywall is not impervious to damage from water, accidents, and general wear and tear. Indeed, the longer you live in your home the more likely you’ll have to repair your drywall at some point. Whether your children were playing catch inside, you had a water leak or a door was opened too quickly and the handle bumped into the wall, the resulting dent, crack or hole will have to be fixed.

The good news is that repair is relatively straightforward. When completed by a practiced technician—such as the team at Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville—you won’t even notice where the damage was to begin with.

In this blog post we’ll outline some common causes of damaged drywall and why it’s important to repair any cracks, dents or staining promptly. We’ll also cover the basic steps for DIY repair for those of you who enjoy tackling home improvement projects. If that doesn’t sound like you, don’t worry. We offer a range of professional repair services and are always happy to help.

What Damages Drywall?

Before we dive into the importance of drywall repair and our DIY tips, it’s helpful to understand the root causes of damaged drywall. Sometimes, the reason you have a hole the size of a baseball in your wall is obvious—in fact, the culprit might still be rolling about in your house’s frame. Yet, the cause of damage might not always be so clear. From the conspicuous to the inconspicuous, any of the following issues could wreak havoc:

  • Damage from moisture. Leaks, poor ventilation, flooding, or improper drainage in your home increases the amount of moisture getting into your walls. Moisture in your drywall causes sagging, staining, and mold growth.

  • The natural settling of your home. It’s natural for your house to settle deeper into the earth it’s built into as time goes on. Yet, the resulting shifts can crack your drywall.

  • Holes from drywall anchors. Heavy items such as TVs, large paintings, or shelving units may need anchors to stay secured to the wall. When anchors are removed, they leave holes behind in the wall. It’s important to fill these holes as soon as possible because the damage could worsen over time.

  • Regular wear and tear. Life happens. Children take their karate lessons too seriously, bookshelves get knocked into the wall by adventurous cats, and innocent requests to “pass me the remote!” go terribly wrong. And when “life happens,” sometimes it means you need drywall repair services.

  • Cosmetic issues from nail pops. Nail pops are small circles that protrude from the drywall in your walls and ceilings. Generally, the nail heads and bulges don’t stick out very far, but are still noticeable and may crack the paint around them. Although nail pops don’t affect your wall’s structure, they are aesthetically unattractive.

Why is Repairing Drywall Important?

A tiny crack in your drywall may not seem like a huge deal, (just hang up a picture and forget about it, right?) but even the smallest of cracks could get worse if left alone. Also, sometimes issues with your drywall could be a sign of a bigger problem in your home. A small water stain might actually be evidence of a leaking pipe or insufficient ventilation in your bathroom. Thus, covering up damaged drywall with a portrait of your puppy isn’t going to cut it. There are a few reasons why it’s important to hire drywall repair services as soon as you spot any damage, including:

Drywall Does Not Last Forever

Drywall was invented in 1916 to replace heavier and more expensive materials like plaster or wood. It’s made out of two paperboards with a layer of gypsum (a powdery white sulfate mineral) in the middle. Gypsum is non-combustible and much lighter than other materials, making it an ideal choice for residential and commercial buildings alike.

However, since drywall is lighter than wood or plaster it’s also more prone to damage from water, humidity, and regular wear and tear. Put succinctly, drywall isn’t meant to last forever. It will need repairing, or even replacing, over the years.

The Dangers of Water Damage

In addition to being lighter than other building materials, drywall is also more porous. Therefore when drywall has been subjected to water damage it makes it the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Because of the material’s porous nature mold and bacteria can hide in its nooks and crannies—making it almost impossible to get rid of. Once your wall has been damaged by moisture or humidity, it needs to be replaced right away.

If you don’t replace damp drywall with a fresh sheet as soon as possible, there’s a risk that the mold or bacteria can spread to other parts of your home and negatively impact your family’s health. Framing behind the wall can rot and develop mold which can result in a much bigger, more expensive job to repair or remediate. Insulation behind the sheetrock may get wet and become a hidden source of mold. Even when a wet wall dries it may become insecure or unstable. If you notice any signs of water damage on your walls, you need to:

  • Find the source. A leaking pipe, faulty grout, roof or skylight leaks, poorly ventilated bathrooms, flooding from a clogged downspout, or improperly sealed windows can all cause water damage to your walls.

  • Fix the cause. There is no point in replacing your sodden wall until the water damage’s cause has been curbed—otherwise you’ll only have hidden the issue temporarily but the damage will continue until fixed.

  • Clean surrounding areas. Any damp wall will need to be replaced. But, you’ll still need to thoroughly clean the surrounding areas. You can also use a house fan or floor dryer to properly dry out wet spots

  • Call the pros. Once the source of water damage has been dealt with and you’re ready to hire repair services, put your faith in the pros at Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville. Our experts will efficiently and diligently install and finish new drywall so you don’t have to worry about further damage or bacteria infiltrating your home.

Keep the Elements Outside

Living in New Jersey, you’re well acquainted with hot, humid summers and chilly winters with freezing temperatures. Although both the warm and cool weather is enjoyable while spending time outdoors, it’s much less comfortable within your home. Despite not being insulative in itself, drywall does contribute to home comfort by:

  • Sealing in interior temperatures. While the function of drywall is not to actively insulate your home (unlike insulation), it can still affect your home’s interior temperature. Cracks or holes in your wall lets warm or cold air creep in. The excess warm/cool air can in turn impact the efficiency of your house’s HVAC system.

  • Keeping bugs and pests out. Your house is an oasis to mice, rats, and ants looking for shelter or food. In our part of New Jersey pesky creatures constantly try to sneak into your home. Cracks or holes in your wall are like tiny welcoming signs inviting pests into your living space. If they get into the house, keep them behind the wall with prompt repairs.

  • Inhibiting damage from moisture. Drywall acts as a barrier to the elements. When that barrier is compromised, moisture and humidity can seep into your space.

Ensure Your Walls Look Their Best

Drywall that is structurally sound keeps your family safe and plays a role in preventing the elements and pests from infiltrating your home. However, while safety always comes first, your home’s aesthetic is important too. In this, your wall plays a pivotal role.

Damaged walls affect the appearance of your paint; and nothing spoils a beautiful wall like an unsightly hole or crack marring its otherwise perfect surface. Accordingly, keeping your walls looking smooth means repairing cracked, chipped, and dented walls as soon as you notice the damage.

DIY Drywall Repair Steps

At Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville we know that some homeowners in our community enjoy tackling DIY projects. If that sounds like you, read on to learn the basic steps for patching drywall by yourself. To get started prep the following resources:

Tools and Materials

  • Sander

  • Saw

  • Dust mask

  • Paintbrush

  • Screw gun

  • Taping knife

  • Utility knife or hand saw

  • Tape measure

  • Stud finder

  • Carpenter’s square

  • Scrap lumber

  • Plywood

  • Panels

  • Screws

  • Joint tape

  • Joint compound

  • Sandpaper

  • Tack cloth

  • Drop cloths

1. Outline the Damaged Area

  • Use a carpenter’s square and a pencil to draw a straight line at least an inch above and below the damaged area.

  • Use the stud finder and mark the nearest studs to the right and left of the hole.

  • Connect the top and bottom lines with the right and left studs to make a rectangle; this area will be where the patch goes.

2. Cut Out the Patch

  • Use a saw blade or a utility knife to cut along the lines you just marked. Cut very carefully; trace over the lines multiple times with the utility knife to slowly make the cuts deeper.

  • Each time you hit a stud, measure an additional 3/4” into the stud and mark this point. This will be the center of the stud.

  • The patch should overlap with each stud; this will ensure it stays supported.

  • Carefully remove the piece of wall.

3. Cut the Support and Put it into the Wall

  • Cut your scrap lumber into a 1” X 3” piece.

  • Alternatively, you can cut a 3/4" piece of plywood to approximately 2” longer than the height of your patch.

  • Place the support into the wall vertically.

  • Screw in at the top and bottom.

4. Cut the Patch

  • Measure your piece of drywall so that it fits the size of your patch.

  • Use a drywall knife and carpenter's square to cut the drywall and ensure it is straight along the edges.

5. Install the New Patch

  • Place the patch into the hole in your wall.

  • Place the screws about 1” away from each edge to prevent cracking.

  • Use a drill to screw the patch into place at the top and bottom.

  • Screw the patch into the studs at each corner so that it’s secured in place.

6. Finish Patching Your Wall

  • Frame the patch with self-adhesive fiberglass tape. The seams of the patch should be in the center of the tape.

  • Use a 6” taping knife to spread joint compound across the patch and tape to create a smooth, flat surface.

  • Let the compound dry overnight.

  • The next day, cover the surrounding area and all furniture with drop cloths—dust from spackle can create a mess.

  • Sand the patch until it’s smooth.

  • Clean the area.

  • Put a second coat of joint compound across the patch.

  • Let the second coat of compound dry overnight.

  • You may choose to put a third coat on the following day after sanding.

  • Sand the final coat of compound.

  • Clean the area again.

  • Wipe the wall clean with a tack cloth.

  • Paint over the patch so your repair blends in seamlessly with the rest of the wall.

Why Hire Professional Drywall Repair Services?

By this point in the post, maybe you’re feeling empowered and ready to DIY your drywall repair. Or perhaps you’d rather ensure the job gets done right the first time by hiring the pros at Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville. Our skillful and hardworking team has the expert know-how to help with a variety of repairs.

  • Fixing cracks and holes. First, our team will assess the severity of damage to your wall and ascertain the root problem. We’ll then provide a solution for a long-term fix—whether that involves a patching job or replacing an entire sheet.

  • Repairing leak or flood damage. When there’s a leak in your home, it’s a lot of work to get everything back to normal. We’ll be there to get rid of damaged walls, patch holes cut by plumbers, clean up the resulting mess, and install new sheets efficiently without compromising our dedication to excellent craftsmanship.

  • Painting services. We’ll see your repairs through from beginning to end; including expertly painting over the patch. We’ll give your walls a smooth, elegant finish.

  • Saving you time. Repair can be time consuming, tricky, and sanding can be messy and involve significant cleanup. Leave it to the pros.

Need Drywall Repair Services? Call the Experts

Whether you’ve noticed water stains, hairline cracks, or dents in your wall, it’s important to repair the damage right away. Give the house you love the best care possible by hiring the service professionals at Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville. We invite you to call our friendly office staff at 609-372-5867 or request a service online to get started today.

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