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How to Repair Drywall and Patch Holes in the Wall | Architectural Digest

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One thing any renter (or homeowner, for that matter) should know is how to repair drywall. Because no matter how hard you try to keep your walls pristine, there are bound to be dings and dents from furniture and holes left when you rearrange that salon-style art display. Luckily, you can usually repair drywall damage yourself without having to dial up the contractor or handyman. All you need are the right tools and the correct approach for the type of damage. Learn how to patch drywall, whether small nail holes or large damage, and your wall surfaces will soon look as good as the day you moved in (so you can get that security deposit back).


Drywall, a.k.a. gypsum board, is the standard construction material for all interior walls. Though it’s incredibly sturdy, it’s not indestructible, so holes and cracks are expected to form in the surface of the drywall. Luckily, as far as DIY home improvement projects go, patching drywall is a fairly straightforward process.

Ultimately, it all depends on the size of the hole or the amount of damage you’re dealing with, but the process shouldn’t take more than a few hours. Repairs for small holes might not even take half an hour. If it’s your first time doing the repairs solo, plan for an hour or two out of your day. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be fixing damaged drywall in a blink.


First things first, assess your damage. The size and scope of repairs will determine which tools you’ll need to gather. Small holes or dents—like those caused by nails—usually only need a thin layer of joint compound (also called drywall mud) or Spackle, a putty knife, and some sandpaper.

Larger holes, which may come from accidents around the house, usually require more supplies. For anything bigger than four or five inches across, expect, at minimum, to need a whole new piece of drywall, a drywall saw, a utility knife, furring strips, a drill, drywall screws, and joint compound.

Before you make your shopping list and head to the hardware store, consult the directions below. Generally, the tools and supplies you will need if you’re learning how to patch a hole in drywall are:

Small holes

  1. Spackle or joint compound
  2. Putty knife
  3. Sanding sponge or fine-grit sandpaper

Medium holes

  1. Spackle
  2. Putty Knife
  3. Sanding sponge or fine-grit sandpaper
  4. Self-adhesive mesh patch

Note: To save time, you can usually get all of these supplies in a drywall patch kit.

Large holes

  1. Measuring tape
  2. Stud finder
  3. Pencil
  4. Drywall saw
  5. Utility knife
  6. Drywall scraps
  7. Drywall screws
  8. Drill
  9. Furring strips (.75″ x 2″–1″ x 4″)
  10. Joint tape
  11. Joint compound
  12. Sanding sponge

Safety first

After gathering all of your supplies, be sure to check the location of wiring and plumbing before you begin repairs. If you’re patching anything larger than small nail holes, use a flashlight to peek into the hole first. You should be able to see if there are any wires or pipes before you start your repairs. If you need to enlarge the hole to get a better look, cut the hole horizontally using a drywall knife—just make sure you don’t go deeper than an inch. You should also wear a dust mask, protective goggles, and gloves.

How to repair drywall: Small dents and holes

Since they are the easiest to repair, small dents and holes require the least amount of time, effort, and materials. Follow the steps below to quickly fix any small imperfections in your wall.

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