Damaged drywall is one of the easiest home improvement projects there is. However, these projects are usually messy so it is important to prepare the area properly before digging into a project like this. There are items that can be purchased to “patch” the damaged area. However, this is a marginal way of repairing drywall and will be a noticeable bump on the wall forever. Using the methods below will ensure a brand new looking surface.
Finding the Framing
Whether repairing drywall on ceilings or the walls, the first step is to find the framing members that the drywall is attached to. Take a metal coat hanger, untwist it, and straighten it out. Stick it into the hole or crack until you hit a framing member. Use a felt tip pen to mark the coat hanger and the spot on the drywall where the coat hanger comes out to. Pull the coat hanger out of the hole or crack and line up your marks to show where the edge of the framing member is located. Make a mark and measure over 1 1/2 inches and make a mark. This is the location of the framing member.
Repeat this method on the other side of the hole or crack to find the next framing member.
Cutting Out the Damaged Area
Use your tape measure to make marks at the bottom of the piece you will cut out to replace. Connect the marks by laying a level across the marks and drawing a line. Make marks in the middle of the framing members you found and use the level to draw a straight line on each side long enough the exceed the area you are repairing by a few inches. You should end up with a rectangle drawn with the sides of the rectangle in the center of the framing members to allow a new piece to be attached.
Cut out the piece using a drywall saw or if you have a Roto Zip, these work very well for cutting quickly and cleanly around the piece you will be cutting out. It is important to lay down some plastic or a drop cloth on the floor to keep the drywall dust off the floor.
Installing the Replacement Piece of Drywall
Measure and cut out a piece of new drywall making sure that you are using the right thickness (walls generally are 1/2 inch thickness, ceilings are generally 5/8 inch thickness). Use 1 1/4 inch drywall screws to attach the cut out piece to the framing members.
Take mesh drywall tape and cut it so it covers the seams of the new piece of drywall. It is now ready for mudding.
Finishing the Drywall
In order to get the drywall to blend, apply light weight joint compound on all of the taped seems with a 4 inch drywall trowel. Lightweight joint compound can be purchased pre-mixed. Allow the coat to dry for several hours, then scrape the edges of the joint compound to knock down the edges of the joint compound. Then apply a second coat with a 9 inch or larger trowel. Make sure that you fill the screw holes with joint compound as well.
After the joint compound drys, use drywall sandpaper to sand the applied joint compound so that there appears to be a seamless transition from the patch piece to the original drywall.
Use the store bought spray cans of texture to match wall textures. These are available in orange peel, knock-down, and sand texture and are sold in aerosol cans that cover a 10 foot by 10 foot area.