After Dan Cederholm made his argument yesterday that CSS “Hacks” should really be called CSS Patches, I decided it was time for me to explain how to make a Drywall Hack…er, Patch! Unlike in pseudo repair jobs done to css to account for browser inconsistencies, this process actually involves making a physical patch for an honest-to-goodness hole in a brick-and-mortar (well, drywall actually) wall.
Yes, that’s a hole…in the wall of our upstairs bathroom. Although I’m tempted to say “I’ve always wanted to punch a hole in a wall”, and that “I did it for the sake of this tutorial”, I have to admit that the hole was there when my wife and I moved in. It was actually hidden below 3 layers of wallpaper that we removed, and patched with a business card for a car dealership. No joke…I guess that’s how you know you’ve moved to SC. Being the son of a master carpenter and the son-in-law of a tile mason, I’m not one to resort to shoddy home-improvement techniques so I thought I’d write up a tutorial on how to properly patch a medium-sized hole in a section of drywall. There are many methods to repairing drywall but the technique that I’m going to cover here is often referred to as a California Patch and can be used to repair a hole between studs that is too large to glaze over with drywall putty.
Before we begin, you will need a piece of drywall that is at least 4-5 inches wider and taller than your hole. Often times, if you go to a home-improvement store, they will have broken pieces of drywall that they will give you or sell at an exremely discounted price. I was able to buy a half-sheet (because I know there will be more patches to make before our home improvement is done here) for only $1.02! You will also need the items pictured above:
- Keyhole Saw
- Utility Knife
- Metal Ruler (or T Square)
- Spackling Paste
- Putty Knife
With a keyhole saw, cut away any crumbled or damaged drywall around the hole. Try to make your new, larger hole as rectangular as possible.
Measure the width and height of the new hole. Draw a rectangle of the same dimensions on the spare piece of drywall and cut it out, leaving about 1 inch around the rectangle. To make a clean cut, score it repeatedly with the utility knife using a metal ruler as a guide.
Hold up the patch to your hole to visually check to see if the penciled rectangle is about the same size as the hole. It’s a good idea to measure it again just to be sure.
The secret to the California patch is in the fact that drywall has thick paper on both sides. Laying a metal ruler along the line that represents a side of the hole, score across the entire patch, but do not cut all the way through. Once you’ve scored about halfway through the drywall, snap it off like a Kit-Kat bar and peel the gypsum away from the back layer of paper. Repeat the process all the way around the patch as shown above.
Place the patch over the hole (with the excess-paper-side out) and gently press the drywall “key” into the hole. Do not jam the patch into the hole because we have to pull it back out again in a second. If it doesn’t fit into the whole, trim away at hole with the keyhole saw or utility knife until it does. Once it does fit nicely, pencil around the excess paper and then remove the patch from the wall again.
Using a utility knife, score the wall along the lines you created in the previous step. Then, Peel away the paper around the hole. What we’re doing here, is evening out the two surfaces by making it one layer of paper thick instead of two.
Using a putty knife, apply spackling paste around the hole and on the patch. Try not to get it too thick where the paper will lie against the wall, but apply a thin layer so that the paper will stick.
Re-insert the patch into the wall, SLOWLY, just until it feels even with the rest of the wall. At this point, you probably want to give it a few hours to dry so it’s a little more solid to putty over. Once it is, apply a thin layer of spackling paste over the entire patch. Allow this to dry, sand and repeat until the wall is smooth.
That’s it. Once you prime and paint, nobody will ever know the hole was even there. If this was helpful, or if you have any additional tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Update – 1/27/2007:
If you are doing this type of patch on a ceiling or anywhere that might need more support, put a scrap piece of wood into the hole as shown in the quick diagram I made below. Use drywall screws to fasten the wood to the existing drywall before putting your patch in and when you’re done, put a couple more screws through the patch and into the wood backer to be sure it doesn’t fall on your head before it dries. I used this method when I removed some old can lights in a hallway and it worked great.
Good Luck! – Jason