What do you use to fix a hole in the drywall so it will hold a new molly?

How do you fix a small hole in the drywall so it will hold a new molly? Long story, but it needs to go back into the exact area where the old hole is. I tried spackle from Home Depot with the blue cover that says “Dust Control” on it. I let it dry for a week and then tried it, but the molly is weak in there.

I can’t use anything deeper than these mollies because there is an electrical service panel on the other side. So those kind where you can anchor by it spreading behind the drywall won’t work cause there isn’t any room for them.

I’m calling them mollies but they look like these plastic anchors:

If spackle isn’t strong enough to do this, how can I repair the hole so it will be able to be strong like drywall so I can put the molly back in there? Is there something else to use? I don’t want to have to replace that part of the drywall, because that sounds drastic and I clear don’t know what I’m doing. I’d appreciate helpful advice.

Sounds like you need a drywall patch - not just spackle. Ask at Home Depot.

Use a drywall saw to cut out a square section of the drywall/spackle mess. Get some new drywall and cut a patch the exact size of your square. (You can get small 2x2 foot panels just for patches at your local orange or blue store.) Put a piece of one-by strapping into the hole and attach it to the inside of the wall with drywall screws to act as a backing for the patch. Put the patch in and screw it to the strapping. Then use spackle around the edges and to cover the drywall screws.

Is a drywall patch that mesh put on drywall? If so, I thought that was just used for patching large holes.

I should mention, there is an electrical service panel on the other side of this wall, so I can’t drill in there any deeper than the drywall itself. Does that matter for anchoring a new piece of drywall? Cause I thought replacing a piece of drywall would require it to be screwed in with anchors that spread behind the drywall. There is no room behind the drywall because of the service panel box.

There are only two solutions.
The first thing to try is to use better anchors. If the holes are the size of the ones you linked to, then these will work:
Home Depot has them. Get the 75 pound version as they are larger in diameter.

If that won’t work your only solution is to replace the dry wall. It is a job and it’s not as easy as described above. You will need to cut out the damaged piece from stud to stud to have something to nail the new piece to.

In this situation, I don’t have a hollow wall in that spot. Where the drywall ends is an electrical service panel box. This is why originally short plastic mollies were hammered into the drywall. I can’t find a stud in the wall there because the service panel interferes with the stud finder. I suspect there is a stud in each corner of this short wall, but I don’t know for sure.

The wall is 29 inches wide. The small cabinet there is only 12 inches wide. There might be a stud in each corner. There is one on top, but it must end because of the electrical service panel box on the other side.

I’m new to all this. I could be completely wrong in my assessment what is behind the wall. But what I do know, is if you drill beyond the drywall in the area this needs to be anchored towards the bottom you do hit this metal box. Which measures on the other side of the wall beyond all this to be 15 1/2 inches wide. I don’t know if the back of this box takes up that much room or not but I know I can’t find a stud in that area.

In that case, instead of the one-by strapping, you can hold the patch in place using an adhesive mesh patch like this. Cut the mesh so it’s bigger than your patch by an inch or so all around. Then place your patch in the hole and hold it into place using the mesh, then spackle over the mesh.

The panel is designed to fit between two studs, so there should be one on either side of it.

Well if that is actually the case, you should be able to glue the new drywall piece to the service panel, possibly needing an 1/8” ply spacer. Vertical wall studs (usually 2x4s) are typically placed 16 inches on center. The box you describe was designed to fit between this dimension. In a short wall the studs might not follow this convention exactly but there will need to be a stud on at least one side of the box to hold it up. My guess it’s on both as a design feature. Your stud finder should help you determine its parameters.

As a handyman this is something I do quite often. I disagree with the suggestion above that mesh will hold a patch that big in place. You really need to find the studs if glueing it to panel won’t work.

A trick to getting the panel patch the right size is to get it close by measuring then hold it up to the wall and trace around it. That will ensure it fits perfectly. Sand the edges and fill with joint compound or spackling. After it drys, sand it smooth the spray on texture to match. You can get it in an aerosol can at the hardware store. Paint to match and this time use better anchors.

Out of curiosity, what are you putting on the wall that can’t be moved ove an inch or two?

My ideas…

  1. A strip of stiff material, that will go in behind the drywall and bridge across the hole… you should be able to get a strip that is almost twice the diamater of the hole into there.
    You might have to rivet something on to stiffen it up. Before you isntall it, design a way to attach your screw or bolt… You can assemble it before hand if its going in the centre.
  2. But what really affects you is the poor shape of the hole… You need to make it so that its cone/dome/bowl shape… The room , the food, the concave side is that side… —__/— so then when you fill that hole, the fill won’t just come out. Its keystone that is stuck in on that side.

You can combine the two ideas 1 and 2.
3. Of course you can just install an anchor elsewhere. One above. Two.

3a. Picture rails do that, by installing into wood… then the picture rail can hold up a lot more than a small plastic anchor … and withstand outward tension too.

3b… like a picture rail … but smaller… ust use 1 or 2 or 3… etc anchors to attach a plate.

Agreed, also how much weight are you trying to hang off this anchor?

I was faced with your exact situation and I did a quick and dirty repair by carefully using a 1/2 drill bit to expand the hole. I didn’t use a drill, I just held and twisted the bit in my hand. With the hole suitably opened. I hot glued a small piece of wooden dowel to the metal electrical box in the stud cavity. I had pre-drilled the dowel plug with a screw hole so that I could mount a small framed photo. Maybe not the strongest or prettiest job but the picture hid the anchor, it took all of ten minutes to do it and it hasn’t fallen down after 8 years.


If you are still just trying to fill the hole, I’d suggest using real Plaster of Paris rather than spackle, and maybe even with a little fiber reinforcement. Make sure you shove extra into the hole so it is filled behind, and smooth the front. Enlarging the hole first wouldn’t hurt. You could then re-drill the hole, or even just push the anchor into the wet plaster. It is a lot stronger than drywall or spackle.

You could mount a strip of hardwood on the studs around it, then drill into that. Maybe not the most long term elegant, but sturdy and would ensure you’re avoiding the box.

I have no handy man skills to speak of, but this confuses me - depending on where the service panel is located in the wall, I would assume you should be able to find the stud at either the floor or the ceiliing, and then draw a line?

I’m going to try to explain this but I am likely to fail.

Cut a hole in the drywall. 3, 4 or more inches.

Cut a piece of plywood, 1/8 or 1/4" thick. It should be about 1 1/4" or LARGER than the opening you previously cut in the drywall.

Here is the sneaky part. You will make a vertical slice an inch above and below the opening. It will be larger than the thickness of the piece of plywood so that you can insert the p/w through the sliced opening.

A small screw with string attached to the p/w will enable you to pull the p/w into place against the back of the d/w.

You may choose to use glue between the p/w and d/w. I use epoxy.

The attached string is now used to keep tension between p/w and d/w.

Now it is time to do your spackle thing over the whole patch.

When you insert your screw at completion you will be inserting it in d/w and p/w.

The glitch would be if there is not sufficient room to slide the p/w in because of the proximity of the elec. box.

Hope this is clear enough. It is really a simple fix if I have done a decent job of describing.

**edwardcoast **has not said why the replacement anchor has to be in the exact same spot. You might be totally right but often with these types of questions, it is better to give the big picture to allow people to offer an out-of-the-box solution. For example, maybe there is a way to place your mystery object in the exact same spot but using a mount in a different place in the drywall.

BTW a plastic anchor is not a molly. This is a molly.

Why is an electrical service panel sealed behind drywall to begin with? Nobody with solutions seems to be questioning this, such as Lucas Jackson, with stated experience doing this, who seems quite nonplussed by the whole thing.

I’m assuming access to the panel is from the other side of the wall. It’s common enough for the panel to be in the garage and a bathroom (for instance) to be on the other side of the wall. Hanging a towel bar at that location (again, for example) could present problems.

Or use something other than a drywall anchor. Depending on what you’re hanging, those 3M Command Strips might work. Or take advantage of the service panel and use a magnet to hang it.