How can I patch a big drywall hole?

This was not one of my better DIY moments. Lacking a stepstool or a ladder, I tried to replace a smoke detector by shimmying up two opposing walls. I ended up kicking through one of the walls and left a big, gaping hole.

Is this something I could potentially fix on my own? I’m a renter.

And you know what really sucks? It wasn’t even the right smoke detector :mad:

Yes…you’ll need to buy a few things at the hardware store, but it’s easily a DIY job. You’ll also need paint to match…but that might be lying around the house somewhere. There are a million YouTube videos showing how to patch a hole with a new piece of drywall.

Simplest way - I’ve done this - is to cut a square hole around the hole. Cut a square piece to match. If it’s a really big hole, or in a spot where the studs are close together, you can cut to the studs on either side and screw the patch onto them. For smaller holes, get a small piece of wood or plywood slightly longer than the hole. Slip the wood into the hole and screw through the good drywall above and below the hole. For added strength, use glue on the wood to hold it in place too. (For smaller holes, i.e. electrical outlet sized, I’ve used a wooden paint stir-stick but just glued it top and bottom) Now you have a solid base to attach the drywall patch. If the hole is too wide, use two wood pieces for the backing. A power drill helps when using drywall screws.

Screw and/or glue the patch piece on. tape and plaster. The secret to plastering is to have a fairly wide tool and not overwork it. Put a layer on, let it dry, sand off the high spots, put another layer to fill any void or bubbles. If you don’t press too hard, you can leave a thin layer instead of scraping off what you put on. For patches I like to use fibreglass mesh tape, easier to work with than paper.

Good luck.

Don’t cut the hole square and fit the patch. Cut the patch first and trace around it to enlarge the hole to fit the patch.

I think your bigger issue is trying to match the existing texture on the wall. They spray on drywall mud and let it start to set. Then they use a wide drywall knife to knock it down and create the texture. I believe the big box stores sell a pressurized can of compound in the paint department to do the same thing.

If it were me, I’d hire a pro to fix it.

There are drywall patch kits that contain just a piece of mesh that you put in place and apply Spackle over. That’s simpler than putting in a piece of drywall. The texture thing will be a tough one.

This is more of the same of what’s been said above, but I have gotten great use out of Drywall Repair Clips. It’s the same theory as screwing slat behind the hold to attach a square of drywall to.

Were it plain drywall, it’s an easy $10 fix, but the texture’s gonna be a bitch.

Then again, you’re renting. Why can’t you just have the landlord fix it?

That looks like a bigger hole than you would want to tackle using just a repair screen. OP is going to need to cut out and drywall patch that. I do agree that the texture is going to be bitch in this repair.

There are cans of spray texture that have a variable nozzle and work very well.
Expensive (like, $20/can), but worth it.

Seconding the paintstirrer method. I saw your texture, and I think you could duplicate it well enough. What you’ll need to do is practice with your drywall compound on an old box or something. Start by applying compound (over a light layer of flat, dry compound) with an old paintbrush in a stipple fashion, wait a little while, then use a flexible putty knife to flatten it out some. It’s not rocket science, trust me. :slight_smile: On the wall itself, you can even scrape it off if you screw up.


As other’s have noted, while it is possible to approximate that texture, unless you are very good or lucky, your patch will still be noticeable. This is one of those situations where sucking it up and calling the landlord is in order. You can pay for it now, or go through a lot of trouble to repair it and still have to pay for it to be redone when you move out.

This is key. Otherwise, you’ll be struggling to get the piece exactly the right size, and it’s hard to trim just a little bit off a piece of drywall. Cutting the patch first and tracing it is WAY more accurate and you’ll get a tight fit, making your job way easier.

wall hanging, piece of art.

yeah cut the hole to match the patch.

practice the finish on a vertical surface other than the wall.

everybody could use a sturdy safe step ladder.

Re texture. If it’s just orange peal, I’ve had good luck with the aerosol texture sprays. Like spray paint. The texture size is adjustable, and you can feather it out for a pretty good match.

Test first on cardboard.

I’ve used the spray cans for orange peel, and they do a passing job. Just make sure to let it dry thoroughly before you paint or you’ll pull the tops off the ‘bubbles’.

If it’s a ‘knockdown’ texture, thin some mud with water and flick it on with your fingers. Let is set for a second and knock it down with a wide knife. Nice thing about it is, if you fuck it up you can scrape if off and start over pretty easily.

I would cut a triangular shaped piece of drywall just large enough to cover the hole. Trace it over the hole, as suggested above, and cut out the hole.

Buy a bundle of lath and insert two pieces of lath behind the existing dry wall and secure near the hole on both sides with drywall screws so that the laths are near the edges of the hole.

Now secure your patch to the lath with drywall screws. Use joint compound to approximate the texture (looks like knockdown to me) and cover lath screws outside the patch.

Finally, repaint.

The reason for using a triangular patch is that your hole is roughly triangular (although tilted) and the patch will be less obvious than if you stick a big square patch in there.

I used to do apartment maintenance and repair for a living and still do it as a side job occasionally.

They started selling 6x6 and 8x8 precut patches.

This saves buying a whole sheet and cutting one yourself.

The only thing I can add is the California patching technique. Score the sheetrock about 1 in away from the edge being very careful not to cut the paper. Do all four sides of the patch. Then break off the plaster material. Now you have a patch with paper that will cover and seal the crack. Use mud or spackle to seal it down.

The ready made patches I linked have the extra paper on them to cover the crack.

video for using a California patch.

How to match texture with a brush.

They mention the knockdown texture which looks very close to the OP’s wall. It’s surprisingly easy. I’ve done texture before but never that knockdown technique. Learned something useful today. :wink:

One technique that works, and might save you some expense.

Since you have to get a piece of drywall anyway*, use that for the backing instead of also buying lath, etc.

  1. cut a patch out of the drywall big enough to cover the hole.
  2. trace around that patch on the wall, then cut out the damaged drywall.
  3. cut another piece of drywall about a couple of inches bigger than the patch. So if your patch is 6" square, cut another piece 8 or 8-1/2" square. Cut a finger hole in the center of that piece.
  4. put glue on the outside inch of that bigger piece, insert it diagonally thru the hole, pull it up against the back of the hole, and let the glue dry. You can put as couple drywall screws in the corners to hold it in place (but carefully – these will be in the finished wall surface, right next to the patch).
  5. Next day, after the glue has dried completely, insert your patch and glue/screw it in.
    This method uses just drywall, no extra lath, etc. And you probably have a larger piece of drywall to work from, making the back piece is easy.

*P.S. Don’t think you have to buy a full 4’ x 8’ sheet of drywall for this. All you need is some scraps. Any handyman. home remodeler, etc, will have those, probably for free. Or look (or ask) on Craigslist.

^^^ I like this idea (although lath is cheap and handy to have around, IMHO)