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How to Fix Drywall Damage: A Beginner's Guide

Drywall is a common and durable building material, but even the best walls can suffer chips, cracks, and other damage. Whether it's an accidentally bumped corner, a nail hole that's a bit too visible, or a hairline crack that appeared seemingly out of nowhere, these imperfections can be an eyesore. Fortunately, fixing minor drywall problems is a relatively simple project that most homeowners can handle themselves.

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How to Fix Drywall Damage

Why Bother with Small Repairs?

You might be wondering, why even bother fixing those tiny chips and cracks? Here are a few reasons:

  • Aesthetics: Even small imperfections can make a room look less polished. Repairing them enhances the overall appearance of your space.

  • Prevention: Left unaddressed, small cracks can grow, leading to more significant and expensive repairs down the line.

  • Resale value: A well-maintained home, free of obvious damage, holds more appeal to potential buyers.

Tools and Materials for the Job

Before you begin, gather the following supplies:

  • Putty knife: A flexible putty knife with a 4-6 inch blade is ideal for most drywall repairs.

  • Joint compound (mud): Choose a lightweight, all-purpose joint compound or spackling paste.

  • Sanding sponge: A medium-grit sanding sponge will smooth out the repair.

  • Dust mask: Safety first! Fine drywall dust can irritate the lungs.

  • Primer and paint: These will be needed to match the repaired area to the rest of the wall.

Step-by-Step Guide to Drywall Repair

1. Preparation

  • Inspect the damage: Assess the extent of the chip or crack. For larger damages, you might require a patch or professional assistance.

  • Clean the area: Remove loose debris or flaking paint around the damaged spot with your putty knife. Wipe with a slightly damp cloth to remove dust.

2. Fill the Damage

  • Apply joint compound: Scoop a bit of joint compound onto your putty knife. Smooth it into the chip or crack, slightly overfilling the area. For deeper chips, you might need to apply multiple layers, allowing each to dry before adding the next.

  • Feather the edges: This means blending the edges of the repair seamlessly with the surrounding wall. Hold your putty knife at a slight angle and gently scrape outwards to create a smooth transition.

3. Sanding

  • Allow drying time: Let the joint compound dry completely. This can take a few hours to a whole day, depending on the depth of the repair.

  • Sand it down: Once dry, use your sanding sponge to gently smooth the repair. Work with light pressure to avoid gouging. The goal is to create a surface level with the rest of the wall.

4. Primer and Paint

  • Prime the area: Apply a thin coat of primer to the repaired area. This helps the final paint color adhere properly and prevents the patched spot from showing through.

  • Paint: After the primer has dried, apply one or two coats of paint, matching the original wall color as closely as possible. Blend the edges slightly with the surrounding paint for a flawless finish.

Types of Drywall Damage and Their Fixes

  • Chips and Small Holes: This is what we primarily focused on – filling with joint compound and sanding.

  • Hairline cracks: Often due to house settling. Widen the crack slightly with your putty knife to allow the compound to penetrate, then follow the standard repair process.

  • Nail Pops: When nails protrude out. Hammer the nail back in place, or replace it with a screw. Cover with joint compound, then sand and paint.

  • Larger Holes: Require a drywall patch. This involves cutting out the damaged area, inserting a patch, and then applying joint compound in a series of layers to blend it seamlessly.

Tips for a Successful Repair

  • Use the right compound: For small repairs, a lightweight all-purpose joint compound or spackling is ideal. Larger repairs might require a stronger setting-type compound.

  • Mix in small batches: Joint compound dries quickly, so it's best to mix only what you'll use in a short period.

  • Sanding is key: Take your time while sanding. A too-aggressive approach will damage the surrounding drywall.

  • Practice makes perfect: If this is your first time, try practicing on a piece of scrap drywall before starting on your actual wall.

  • When to call a pro: For extensive damage, damage in difficult locations, or if you lack confidence, it's wise to consult a drywall professional.

And that's it! With a little practice, you can say goodbye to those annoying chips, cracks, and nail holes, keeping your walls looking their best. Remember, drywall repair is a manageable DIY project, but don't hesitate to seek help when needed. If you live in Toronto and prefer a professional touch, or face more complex drywall issues, consider the services of Express Handyman. They offer a range of expertise, including:

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With Express Handyman, you can have those pristine walls without the hands-on work.


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