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Old 04-28-2019, 04:39 PM
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Drywall repair: Arrrrghhhh


I needed a new bathroom electrical outlet. Everything came out perfectly except for one thing: the drywall surface.

I tapped into an existing wall outlet, which required me to pull the outlet box in order to fish the wire. I sawed through the nail that secured it to a stud, thinking I could just pull the box out. Well, I pulled it out, but in the process I damaged the drywall surrounding it.

No problem, I thought, I'll just patch N paint.

Problem. I cannot get the gol-darned surface to look unblemished. I've been patching, lightly sanding, patching, sanding, painting, more patching, more sanding. This has been going on for 3 days. No matter what I do you can see that it was repaired.

Is there a secret or a technique that I don't know about to accomplish this?

This is what I am using. Maybe there is a better product for this type of job?

Thanks!


mmm
  #2  
Old 04-28-2019, 04:49 PM
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It takes a deft hand, doesn't it? Did you use any of the repair mesh or just straight compound?
  #3  
Old 04-28-2019, 04:51 PM
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Any patch will show if you look closely enough.

Drywall finishers apply a texture. Your patched area will be slick and shiny.

You can buy drywall texture in a spray can.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Homax-20-oz...exture/3439958

I've only used it for large patches. Like after removing a window and patching the hole with new drywall. Spray texture helps but perfectly matching the old texture pattern is almost impossible. Just match as closely as you can and walk away.

Last edited by aceplace57; 04-28-2019 at 04:54 PM.
  #4  
Old 04-28-2019, 04:58 PM
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I go for traditional mud.
These days they sell it in small tubs at HD or your local paint store. The reason I like it is because it has an extremely fine finish and can be coaxed into almost perfection right off the knife.

Use a wide blade and feather the stuff out quite wide.
Sand everything lightly to take off the obvious marks.

It usually takes 3 passes, starting with heavy first coat, then one final super thin but very well spread coat.

Finally, as soon as you get flat paint on it, the blemish will disappear completely.
In a bathroom you are likely using eggshell, so it isn't as perfect, but still there is a good chance the top coat will totally hide the blemishes.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:05 PM
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Are you priming before painting? If you don't prime, the drywall absorbs the paint and the sheen will be noticeably different from the rest of the wall. There's also the matter of the texture. Often walls will have texture sprayed on and it's difficult to match that on a repair, so the spot looks noticeably flatter. You can get cans of spray texture at the hardware store. Practice spraying it on scrap until you get the technique down so it looks the same as the rest of the wall.

But aside from all that, it's pretty hard to paint over a spot on a wall without it standing out regardless of a drywall repair. You will likely have to paint the whole wall to have an actual invisible repair. So drywall, texture, and prime the spot, then repaint the whole wall.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
I go for traditional mud.
These days they sell it in small tubs at HD or your local paint store. The reason I like it is because it has an extremely fine finish and can be coaxed into almost perfection right off the knife.

Use a wide blade and feather the stuff out quite wide.
Sand everything lightly to take off the obvious marks.

It usually takes 3 passes, starting with heavy first coat, then one final super thin but very well spread coat.

Finally, as soon as you get flat paint on it, the blemish will disappear completely.
In a bathroom you are likely using eggshell, so it isn't as perfect, but still there is a good chance the top coat will totally hide the blemishes.
Yeah, I'd say it's that you're using spackle. That's not an application it's really meant for.

I'd add to use progressively larger knives. Start with 3, shouldn't have to sand that down much but do if you need. Use a 6 next and see if that will feather you out far enough. If not move up to a bigger knife. Might take a few times just if you use a long enough knife you can get it feathered out so that nobody but you will ever know.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:38 PM
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Thanks for the responses.

To be clear, I am not so concerned about matching the texture; that is not the problem. What is happening is that I cannot "disappear" the margin where new spackle meets existing drywall.

I suspect I am either using the wrong product (may need mud, as advised above) and/or a bigger blade (and perhaps pulling the product further into the "old" existing area of the wall)(also as advised above). For the record I have been using a small (1-inch) blade.

So, should I try what I have with a larger blade? Or not even bother and go out and get some actual joint compound?

Am I making sense? Missing anything?


mmm
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:40 PM
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Also...WRT blade size - you start smaller and go bigger with each coat?


mmm
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
Also...WRT blade size - you start smaller and go bigger with each coat?


mmm
Generally....not sure how large the area you're repairing is, but if you're only using a 1" blade it's going to be very, very hard to get that to blend. Even if it's just an inch or so on the edge of the hole the box came out of, you'd want to use at least a 3" on your finish coat and maybe more to make it blend in to the rest of the wall.

I had the same issue with some boxes I got sloppy ripping out. I actually removed the paper/mud layer around the area I was patching and taped it back in.

This guy's videos came up suggested on YouTube when I was looking at other stuff a while back. I ended up watching several of his videos because I think he does a pretty good job of explaining. I learned to mud by watching and talking to mudders, and by trail and error. I have a pretty good hand now, but I wish it would have been presented to me like this in the first place.

Last edited by Sicks Ate; 04-28-2019 at 05:51 PM.
  #10  
Old 04-28-2019, 06:19 PM
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How big was the hole? I am thinking you might use a oversized outlet cover:
https://www.kyleswitchplates.com/ove...outlet-covers/

[I expect they would be much cheaper at eBay/Amazon...
  #11  
Old 04-28-2019, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
I needed a new bathroom electrical outlet. Everything came out perfectly except for one thing: the drywall surface.


mmm
Waitwaitwait...I just realized that somehow, I get to be the first in the thread to say:

You really should check with your local authorities to see if you need to pull a permit for that work.

  #12  
Old 04-28-2019, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
Waitwaitwait...I just realized that somehow, I get to be the first in the thread to say:

You really should check with your local authorities to see if you need to pull a permit for that work.

Pull this.




mmm
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Old 04-28-2019, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Any patch will show if you look closely enough.
Not true. I'm a DIY and can mud anything in so it's a perfect match. Granted I'll spend way more time than is necessary. A professional can do it blindfolded. There is a bit of skill but it's not beyond the average Josephine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
Also...WRT blade size - you start smaller and go bigger with each coat?


mmm
Use regular mud that dries in 40 minutes. Use a blade wide enough to cover twice the area. Lightly block sand it smooth. Normal mudding material will fly off the wall with very little sanding.

The only way it would stick out is if you are blending into a high spot and not mudding the surrounding valleys.

If you're trying to mud in a wall that is plaster then you have 2 dissimilar materials. Plaster is much harder and there is a tendency to over sand which takes out the new mud causing a valley. Very light block sanding with little or no pressure. Let the sander do the work.
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Old 04-28-2019, 09:50 PM
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To give a mental picture think about a 3 inch sized hole. You would want to lay enough mud to cover a 5 or 6 inch hole building it up so there is 1/8 inch material above the edge of the original hole feathering out to 5 or 6 inches.
  #15  
Old 04-29-2019, 04:55 AM
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Thanks, Magiver.

It is drywall, not plaster.

As for the area, picture a single outlet box. If you add about an inch around it - the perimeter - that is the damaged area.

When you say "regular mud", is pre-mixed ok? Something like this?

How many coats should it take?


mmm
  #16  
Old 04-29-2019, 05:01 AM
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There is very likely a handy YouTube video clearly showing step by step how to do this with the product you have. I had a similar issue and found a video that worked for me!

Good Luck!
  #17  
Old 04-29-2019, 06:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
When you say "regular mud", is pre-mixed ok? Something like this?

How many coats should it take?
Pre-mixed is ok, but it's just that, ok. It's not great, but it's not bad. It's meh. Ok.

The reason that it's not great is that it dries and shrinks a bit. It's not that big of a deal, but it generally will take you a few passes of sanding and mudding and sanding and mudding to get it to smooth out.

There are mix types of drywall mud that don't shrink, which makes it much easier to get a good finish.

For a little patch like what you are doing, I would probably just go ahead and use the pre-mix. It works well enough and it's faster for a small job like this. Lay it on a bit thick so that after it dries you can sand down the irregularities caused by the shrinking.

This is one of those things that is conceptually easy to do, but takes a lot of practice to do well. Easy to learn, difficult to master. Worst case though, you just slap on a bit more mud and sand it down. Even if you don't have any skill at it, eventually you'll get it right. You'll just need a few more mudding/sanding cycles.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 04-29-2019 at 01:51 PM. Reason: typo
  #18  
Old 04-29-2019, 06:32 AM
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Have you considered hanging a mirror or floral print over the area?
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:41 AM
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I use the stuff that can be smoothed with a wet sponge. (At Home Depot it comes in white buckets with red and green writing. That's all I can remember about it.)

With a slightly damp sponge you can get a really fine edge without worrying about scuffing the drywall.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:06 AM
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Russ Olinatz has a ton of videos on youtube covering all kinds of drywall issues. I like his videos because he's pretty descriptive about what he's doing to get a good finish.

As you've experienced, working with drywall is a bit of an art form. Trying to get educated through a forum would be like trying to learn how to paint landscapes from Bob Ross over email. Watch a view videos and see if that helps. And keep in mind that even if this is a huge hassle, you'll gain a lot of experience and knowledge which will help you in future repairs. After doing it a few times, you'll be able to make a near perfect repair without much effort.
  #21  
Old 04-29-2019, 10:18 AM
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Have you considered hanging a mirror or floral print over the area?
A nice floral print wallpaper will take care of the issue.
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:42 PM
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btw, use primer on the patched area. Then paint.

Otherwise you may get issues with peeling later.

I use Kliz in a Spray can for small patch areas. Quick & easy way to prime with no clean up.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/kilz-origin...hoCDVsQAvD_BwE

Last edited by aceplace57; 04-29-2019 at 01:45 PM.
  #23  
Old 04-29-2019, 05:32 PM
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Y'all are the best, thanks.

I'll have an entire day to mess around with this on Thursday. Maybe I'll have some new skillz by Friday.


mmm
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
Thanks, Magiver.

It is drywall, not plaster.

As for the area, picture a single outlet box. If you add about an inch around it - the perimeter - that is the damaged area.
mmm
premixed is fine. use a wet towel to wipe the blade each time to swipe it to keep it clean. an inch all the way around is a lot of dead space. You want the mix to have something to stick to. Normally I'd take scrap wood (paint sticks work nice) and screw it in place behind the hole so it spans the hole and the drywall and then screw in a piece of drywall to fit. then you're just mudding a thin space between the patch and drywall. It's one of the techniques in the video below. In your case you have electrical wire in the wall so you have to be very careful what you drill into. You don't want a drywall screw slicing into a live wire.

Here's a video that shows all the normal techniques used for drywall repair. You can probably get by using fiberglass tape for your application. Personally, I want it as solid as possible because someone yanking on a cord will flex the box and crack the spackling if it has nothing solid to adhere to.

Last edited by Magiver; 04-29-2019 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 04-30-2019, 04:41 AM
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More good info.

The gaps are already filled - I used some mesh drywall tape to help with the application - and the box is rock-solid in the wall. It's even straight.

I am at the point now where I just need to make the finish look normal.


mmm
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Old 04-30-2019, 07:42 AM
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You haven't said what it is about the repair that makes it stand out - are there pits or bubbles in the compound? Is the surface wavy? Does the repair not taper smoothly to the surrounding wall, leaving a lip? Does the paint have a different quality on the patched area? Does the repair lack the surface texture that the rest of the wall has? Each of these problems can have a different fix.
  #27  
Old 04-30-2019, 10:48 AM
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You haven't said what it is about the repair that makes it stand out - are there pits or bubbles in the compound? Is the surface wavy? Does the repair not taper smoothly to the surrounding wall, leaving a lip? Does the paint have a different quality on the patched area? Does the repair lack the surface texture that the rest of the wall has? Each of these problems can have a different fix.

The problem is that you can see a lip where the new patch meets the existing drywall.

I’m convinced that I have not built the patch up high enough and have not extended it far enough onto the existing wall. Also, my blade was too narrow.


Mmm


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Old 04-30-2019, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
The problem is that you can see a lip where the new patch meets the existing drywall.

Iím convinced that I have not built the patch up high enough and have not extended it far enough onto the existing wall. Also, my blade was too narrow.


Mmm


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You figured it out. You're sanding to the height of the original drywall instead of raising it slightly above that edge and smoothing further out . You want a thin layer of mud that exceeds the edge by enough distance that can be sanded smooth without notice.

You are experiencing what everybody goes through when first trying this. The general feeling is that in order for it to appear smooth it must match the same plane as the original drywall. What you want to do is create a patch that is slightly above the edge and tapers out gracefully.

Keep in mind that a wall is not a precisely flat surface. That is an allusion. there are minor waves to it because the studs holding it up are not laser straight. You are trying to reproduce that illusion.

You would have an easier time of it if you didn't have an electrical outlet in the middle of your project. It means you have to feather out from the 4 sides instead of smoothing over a hole with a hypothetical center.

It means you have to fuss with it in 4 directions with a putty knife instead of taking one giant blade and running it across the whole thing. Thin layers and light sanding until you get it the way you want. The hardest thing is to learn is when to stop fussing with it. Sometimes you get it almost perfect with a single pass. Leave it alone, sand it a bit when it dries and touch up with another coat. Better to touch up a minor imperfection than trying for perfection with the putty knife.
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:48 PM
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One technique not mentioned is to work 2 sides at a time. Either the top and bottom first or side to side first. This creates a parallel surface to work with for the other 2 sides. By finishing the edges opposite each other you create a surface that allows the blade to ride smoothly for the remaining 2 surfaces.
  #30  
Old 05-18-2019, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
The problem is that you can see a lip where the new patch meets the existing drywall.

Iím convinced that I have not built the patch up high enough and have not extended it far enough onto the existing wall. Also, my blade was too narrow.


Mmm

Just popping back in to thank all who contributed advice. The wall is repaired and looking good.

My post cited above, as it turns out, pretty much explains the problem and its ultimate solution.


mmm
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Old 05-19-2019, 03:36 PM
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I'm re-rocking my entire garage later this year, you wanna come help mud?
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