How to Repair Minor Drywall Damage

Dings happen--and fasteners pop. Maybe that contractor you hired didn't do such a great job of applying the drywall (he didn't press it firmly against the wall when installing the fasteners), or maybe he used cut-rate framing lumber. Never fear. You can repair gouges and popped nails or screws inexpensively yourself.

Step 1

Apply a dab of caulk with your fingertip or apply premixed interior spackling compound, available in very small cans, with a putty knife. Fill the hole but don't leave any residue on the surrounding surface.

Step 2

If the compound shrinks as it dries, leaving a dimple, apply another coat. When the compound is dry, touch up the paint.

Step 3

Place an appropriate quantity of premixed joint compound, available in 1- and 5-gallon (4-l and 19-l) sizes, into a metal bread pan or onto a hawk (see Warning).

Step 4

Pick up a small quantity of compound on the corner of a spackle knife and spread it over the damaged area. Hold the knife on the wall at a low angle and draw it across the compound horizontally; then wipe the knife clean on the edge of the pan and make a second pass vertically.

Step 5

When the first coat dries (it will turn from gray to bright white), apply a second coat, but use more compound and extend it a little beyond the first coat. In the rare case when two coats are not enough, apply a third coat.

Step 6

When the patch is dry, sand lightly and apply primer over the repaired surface before applying a paint topcoat.

Step 7

Press firmly against the surface as you drive in one drywall screw on each side of the popped fastener (just above and below it on a wall, or in line with the ceiling joist) with a screwdriver or an electric drill and driver.

Step 8

Drive in the popped fastener tight to the drywall with a hammer or screwdriver. Remove any loose drywall but try not to tear off the paper facing. Apply joint compound and smooth it over as described in "Repairing a small hole or gouge".

Step 9

Apply joint tape wherever the paper facing is badly damaged or missing. To embed paper tape, cover the damaged area with a thin layer of joint compound, press the paper into the compound and smooth it by drawing a clean spackle knife across it with firm pressure. If you're using adhesive-backed fiberglass tape, just press it onto the drywall.


When the first coat is dry, scrape off any dry bits on the surface and apply a second and third coat (see A) as described in "Repairing a small hole or gouge".


Cut a drywall patch. Place it over the damaged area to trace it. Cut along your lines with a drywall saw (see B) or by making repeated passes with a utility knife. Remove the damaged pieces and clean up the cut with a utility knife.


Install drywall clips near the four corners of the opening. Slip them over the drywall (narrow spring tabs out) and secure them with 1 1/4-inch (3-cm) Type W drywall screws (see C). Position and screw the patch to the clips (see D).

Step 13

Grasp the clip tabs with long-nose pliers and twist to break them off below the surface. Tape and finish the seams as described in "Repairing larger damaged areas," above.