Whether you own your home or rent an apartment, it’s never a good feeling to watch something bump into your wall and leave a small hole, never mind the large holes left behind by teenage boys playing baseball in their room (don’t ask how I know that).

Having this happen, however, does bring a specific question to mind: “Can I repair the sheetrock on my own?” Keep in mind that older plaster walls can be a different story.

If you’re handy, it’s natural to want to do things yourself instead of calling in a professional drywall repair contractor. Here are our tips on when you should do it yourself and when you should call in the cavalry.

How extensive is the drywall repair?

For homeowners who are experienced with other DIY projects, whether your not you should be repairing your drywall on your own highly depends on how much damage there is.

Small Holes

If what you need to repair is only a couple of dents or some nail holes, you can just grab a flexible putty knife and some spackle. You then use the putty knife to smear the spackle into the dent or nail home and scrape the are flat and even. Once the repaired area dries, you sand it smooth and paint. Sometimes, you may need to do a second coat of spackle (or joint compound) if the first application left voids or “shrunk” as it dried. Generally, one coat will be fine and almost any homeowner can knock out this type of repair.

If the hole you’re looking to repair is bigger than your thumb, you’ll probably need a patch kit. In this case, your drywall patch, or sometimes called “hole repair”, kit comes with a fiberglass or metal mesh screen that is usually between 2 and 6 inches square, so as long as your hole is smaller than that, you can attempt it yourself. There will be more sanding than you probably expect, so grab a vacuum and a dust mask. The gypsum dust is very fine, but small repairs can be controlled easily.

Large Holes

For holes larger than your fist, we recommend contacting a professional. Larger holes often need more support than a simple mesh cover can provide. Depending on the size of the hole, (and whether you intend to hang anything in that spot) it may even need multiple supports before you actually begin fixing it.

Large holes are repaired using a new piece of drywall that is pieced into the hole. Many times the hole actually needs to be expanded slightly (usually using a drywall saw or utility knife) so the studs are exposed to attach to the patch piece using drywall screws. The edges of the patch are then covered with drywall tape and covered with a layer of joint compound. The drywall damage is slowly transformed as the joint compound dries and increasingly fine sandpaper starts to smooth out the coat of joint compound. This process is repeated a few times until the joint tape and fasteners are no longer visible and there is a thin layer of “drywall mud” that covers the entire damaged area.

For this reason, we live by the saying, “If it’s larger than your hand, call a repairman.”

The goal for all drywall repairs is to get the surface of the drywall to look uniform. That sounds simple, but it’s half art and half science. The dents or holes all need to be assessed for what they’ll need to look flawless – do I use paper tape and a taping knife or the self-adhesive mesh tape? Is it a full wall repair or will some spackle and a 400 grit sanding sponge do the trick? Do I take the time for 3 thin coats or 2 heavier coats of joint compound? In the end analysis, every home improvement project goes through this type of cost-benefit analysis.

What caused the drywall damage?

If there are other factors involved in what caused the drywall damage, you may need to pick up the phone. 

Some factors to look out for include:

  • Excessive moisture
  • Bubbling in the drywall near the break (this could indicate termites)
  • Mold
  • Evidence of critters

Additionally, keep in mind what goes on in that section of the wall. If there was a painting there and it caused your drywall to pull away and break off, not only will you need additional support in that area, but you may also need an inspection in the sections near it as well to determine why your wall is so weak.

If you find any of these things when considering or performing your DIY drywall repair, you should definitely call in some help so they can determine what the actual cause of the damage is and get it fixed.

Two men repair dry wall on a ceiling

The drywall repair verdict: 

In most cases, drywall is a home improvement you can do on your own. Many drywall repairs are strictly cosmetic, which means you don’t have to worry about disastrous consequences if something goes wrong. Not to mention, most mistakes can be solved with a little more sanding and a bit more drywall compound.

However, if the damage seems extensive or you don’t feel confident in your abilities, give Faircloth Drywall Repair a call. We provide a free quote upfront and peace of mind when we’re finished.