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Fix a Small Hole in the Wall

How do you fix small holes in the wall?

Stuffing aluminum foil or toilet paper into the void isn’t exactly a good solution.

And it probably won’t go over so well with your spouse or landlord.

Although the look on their face would be a Kodak moment for sure.

In this post, I’m going to share a little-known way to fix this problem.

It doesn’t require a ton of money or supplies and will make your wall look new.

So let’s get started and by the end, you’ll be a drywall repair expert 🙂


Your Supply List for Fixing Small Drywall Holes

Here’s your supply list

  • Measuring Tape
  • Scrap Drywall
  • Drywall Knife/Saw
  • Utility Knife
  • 6 inch and 10-inch Joint Compound Knifes
  • Putty Knife
  • Joint Compound Mud Pan
  • Setting Type Joint Compound (20 min or 45 min)
  • Sanding Sponge (Fine Grit)
  • Dust Mask
  • Pencil

The first step is to assess the damage (and blame it on the kids if need be).


Analyzing the damage: how big is the hole in the wall and where to begin

As  I said earlier if the hole in your drywall is 3 inches in diameter or less you can use my method.

You also need to know the drywall thickness. Walls are typically made from 1/2 inch drywall.

Measure the thickness of your wall’s drywall via a tape measure.

Two-foot by two-foot sections of drywall can be bought at home stores for something like $5. The funny part is that an entire sheet of drywall (8 foot by 4 foot) is only $9.

Good luck fitting it into your car though. Thus, a 2 x 2-foot square is super convenient.

Draw a square around the hole in the wall and measure it’s dimensions.

Draw a square around the hole

Add 1 to 2 inches to the length and width of this measurement.

Use these dimensions to cut a scrap piece of drywall that will cover the hole.

Label the front and back of your drywall patch.

Transpose the square outline on the wall to the center of your patch, and draw it on the BACK.

Draw square on drywall patch

Slice the square outline on the patch (I show you how to do this in the video)

Cut outline of square

Peel all the sections of gypsum from the drywall patch so that only the square in the middle is left.

Peel off Gypsum that surrounds square.jpg

You’ll have a solid square piece of gypsum surrounded by paper.

This step allows you to skip using mesh tape over the seems of the drywall patch. Hey, I love mesh tape but it’s a lot easier to have smooth paper to work with when you’re trying to get an invisible patch job.

This is a pretty slick method that helps make the patch super smooth.

Erase your original square outline.

Erase the original square

Place your drywall patch over the hole and trace its outline onto the wall. You’ll have to fold back the paper for this step.

Trace outline of drywall patch

Now it’s time to disobey your Mom and play with knives!!

Getting a perfect fit with your drywall patch (it’s easier than finding a pair of jeans)

Grab your utility knife and cut an X into the drywall that surrounds your hole.

Then use your utility knife to score the square you drew on the wall.

Score outline with utility knife

Cut the drywall out using a drywall knife/saw. Simply cut along the scored marks.

Cut a square with drywall knife

If you encounter a stud you can angle your drywall knife to cut out the drywall.

Clean up the edges of the cut drywall so that the scrap will fit. Use your utility knife to do this.

Clean edges of exposed gypsum

Drag your utility knife across the gypsum to loosen it.

Dry fit your drywall patch to see if it fits then draw a line that connects the scrap and the existing wall.

Dry fit new patch

This helps with the patch orientation.

It’s time for the fun part: mixing joint compound!!

Applying joint compound: it’s more art than science (make Picasso proud)

I highly recommend using setting-type joint compound.

It comes in bags and has numbers on it that indicate the drying time. I used setting-type 20 for this repair.

That means you have about 20 minutes to work with the compound until it starts to harden like a rock.

I love setting type compound because it does in fact dry harder than pre-mixed joint compound. And I always get a better-finished product.

Use setting type joint compound

Apply joint compound around the perimeter of the square hole in your wall.

Add the scrap piece of drywall.

Insert drywall patch

Then add more compound to the center of your patch. Feather the compound to the edges of the scrap using a 6-inch joint compound knife.

Here’s my complete step-by-step video showing you exactly what I did to fix a hole in the wall that was made by, you guessed it, me!!!

Allow your joint compound coating to dry for an hour then sand it using the drywall sponge.

I like drywall sanding sponges because they can be dunked in water and will keep the dust to a minimum.

Always sand in a circular motion. This helps feather the edges of your wall patch.

You may need 2-3 more coats of drywall but that should be sufficient to get a great-looking drywall patch.

Prime and paint the patch

When you’re satisfied with the look and feel go ahead and prime the area before painting it.

What’s Next

Our tutorial showing how to fix a large hole in the wall also comes in handy…especially if you’ve got kids!

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.



How to Fix Small Holes in Walls

  1. Troy says:

    I have used this method as well as the pre-made ones from the big box stores. Turns out great.

    1. Thanks Troy for your feedback. I like the pre-made patches, too.

      Either option is fantastic.

  2. Betty Livingston says:

    I have a large pool deck that has cool deck finish on it. The deck has developed a lot of cracks during the past two years and I need to fill those cracks. Can someone let me know the best compound to use to do that and the method. I plan to take one section at a time and repair the cracks and at some point repaint and seal the deck. I have had a few suggestions for a temporary fix such as silicone in a tube, but was told that only lasts about a year. HELP!!

    1. Betty, what material is your deck made from?

      Wood or concrete or something else. Sorry to hear about the cracks but you’ll be able to fix those 🙂

  3. Liliana Wells says:

    We have used the tape, screen and screw methods before. But this sweet. Thanks

    1. Awesome Liliana, you’ll love this!!

  4. Dahlia Corella says:

    Hey Jeff, great idea for little holes. But, my problem is much bigger. I have a hole in one of my bedroom walls that’s about a foot long and 1/2 ft. wide. No one will explain how that happened. Everyone just plays dumb. Grrrrrr! So, how do I fix that aside from replacing the whole sheet of drywall?

    1. Sounds like someone doesn’t want to fess up, haha.

      But this isn’t too hard to fix Dahlia. You’ll have to use a bigger drywall patch but you don’t need to replace the entire sheet unless it’s water damaged (which is sounds like it isn’t).

      You could probably but a 2 foot by 2 foot piece of drywall for a few dollars and use it.

      But you don’t need to use the entire piece of drywall.

      Cut a piece of patch that covers the hole and trace the outline of that patch onto the wall.

      Use a drywall saw to cut along the outline. Then attach a two pieces of 1 inch by 2 inch wood pieces behind your wall using 2 inch coarse drywall screws. The wood will allow you to attach the new drywall patch by using the same 2 inch drywall screws.

      You’ll have to use mesh tape on the seams made by the new drywall and existing drywall. Don’t overlap the mesh tape. Just apply the mesh drywall tape on the 2 vertical seams then apply the tape to the 2 horizontal seams.

      Add joint compound over the tape, a light coat for the first pass. By light I mean just enough joint compound to allow the tape adhere to the wall.

      Then you can add 2-3 coats of joint compound like I did and sand in between each coat.

      Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any questions along the way 🙂

  5. bkstrvl says:

    I’ve repaired a few settling cracks using premixed joint compound. The trouble I have is that the texture is so much smoother than the rest of the wall. I’m curious as to how your repair would look once painted. Is the difference in texture obvious?

    1. I think I know what you’re talking about and the best way to help with this issue is to roll the paint on instead of using a paint brush.

      The 6 inch “hot dog” rollers with a 3/8 inch nap work wonders for helping patches disappear.

      But do you have a certain texture on the wall that should be matched?

  6. Nuclear Nana says:

    Any tips for adding texture to match the existing wall to this small patch prior to painting? I enjoy your posts!

    1. Texture is such a art. You’ll want to figure what type of texture it its then investigate how that texture is applied.

      I’d add the texture after the patch is as smooth as possible. This helps the patch blend with the existing wall.

      But some extra drywall and practice the texture on it before applying the texture to your wall. Let me know what kind of texture you have and maybe I can give you more specific advice 🙂

  7. Very cool. I wasn’t sure where you were going at first, but I really like this paper flap technique. I’d never seen it done that way before. I think they should make the full 4×8 sheets with flaps factory installed! ahhh… maybe not.

    At least you can put your “Dad, You’re my Hero” sign back where it belongs,… refrigerator?… front of your car?… desk at work?… a necklace medallion?… mailbox? …

    1. Lol, I think the 4×8 paper flap sheet is a cool idea. We should run with it. You could fold it up and put the sheet in the car no problem.

      Thanks for reminding me to put the sign back above my desk. Although, now I’m thinking it would look great in the car and definitely help with speeding tickets 🙂

  8. jennifer says:

    What an awesome video! So simple and I love it. I am glad there is no hole in the wall in my house but there are a few that are popped out because of nails in the wall. I am afraid to redo because I know it will become a big job. How do you remove nails in the drywall and replace with screw and patch up again?

    1. Nice question Jennifer. I have a few popped nails as well.

      You should remove the popped nail or screw. Then add a drywall screw about 2 inches above or below the damaged area. If it’s not too bade you could just skim coat over the area and not have to replace the drywall.

      To ensure you don’t see any cracking apply mesh tape over the new screw and area that you had to tear out. After 2-3 coats of joint compound your wall will be ready to sand, prime and paint.

      Hope this helps a bit 🙂

  9. Robert Vaughn says:

    Hi Jeff! To let you know, I tried your method of fixing a small hole (an old electrical outlet hole in lath and plaster) in my home. My methodology for fitting the drywall patch into the hole was a bit different, but I did everything pretty much to your specs aside from that. I added and sanded 3 coats of joint compound and was very pleased with the surface. My home is an old English Tudor so.. I have lots of “texture” on the walls. I chose a texturing spray can because I didn’t feel the roller method would’ve worked for me. I do highly recommend practicing “spraying” on a flat surface like cardboard or old drywall etc… but, in the end… after primer and paint…. It turned out awesome!! I do lots of home repair and remodeling but this was my first attempt at wall repair. Thank for your help on this…. also the invaluable tips and videos you share…… And I now look forward even more to Fridays!!

    1. Fantastic Robert!!!

      I love English Tudors, they are so cool. Good idea about practicing the spraying on a surface. It helps to see what the final look before applying it permanently.

      So happy to help and please keep me updated on your projects. I love DIY and totally enjoy seeing pics 🙂

  10. JB_Mass says:

    Nice article, I’ve seen this method before and I tried it before but I found removing the gypsum from the 2″ flange of paper made a huge mess in my workshop and didn’t really leave me with a clean enough paper to feather in without being really noticeable.

    I had a larger patch anyway, so I just screwed into the stud and used joint tape along the edges – but if I were to try this method in the future do you have a good method for getting clean paper without a lot of mess?

    1. I’ve had luck just using this method Jonah.

      You could peal off the gypsum over a trash can or trash bag to stop it from going everywhere.

      Also, maybe spraying the patch with water would reduce the dust but this is just a thought, I’ve never done it 🙂

  11. Miranda says:

    I have a question about this method. My son hung on a towel rack in his bathroom and pulled one end of the rack out of the wall. Would this method be sturdy enough to rehang the rack once we repair the drywall? It is no more than 3 inches wide I would think. Thanks!

    1. It would work Miranda. If you can fit a piece of wood through the wall and attach it with two screws I’d recommend doing that before adding the drywall patch. This will allow you to mount the rack to the wall and screw the screws through the drywall and into the wood, making a super solid connection.

      I hope this makes sense, let me know your thoughts 😀

  12. Nicole says:

    This was a great video, but I’m not sure if it will work for my project. We tiled the floor in the bathroom and had to take the vanity out. Now I want to put a new vanity, but there is an entire outline in the drywall from where the old vanity was. Do I have to cut out the whole outline or do I try to put this skim coat on through that part of the wall???

  13. Janeel says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I have a question about how to match the texture of my newly patched wall. The wall has a medium texturing to it, and I need to figure out how to make the patched area look like the rest of the wall.


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