Hole in Wallboard

Problem: Damage has resulted in a hole in a wall or ceiling that is made of gypsum board.

Background: Small- to medium- sized holes can be mended with joint compound (either ready-mix or powder which is mixed with water) or with products called patching plaster or spackling compounds. Large holes may require cutting the wallboard back to the studs, and re placing the entire damaged section. For tips on repairing plaster walls or ceilings. For repairing cracks or nail pops in gypsum.

What to do: One way to fix a smaller hole is to use a plug method. With this technique, first mark a neat rectangle around the damaged area and use a utility knife or keyhole saw to cut out the area. Mark the hole’s dimensions on a scrap piece of gyp sum board, which is at least 2 inches larger all the way around. Make an other outline 2 inches around the plug area, then cut through this line completely. Next cut on the border of the plug, without cutting through the bottom paper layer. Peel off the gypsum board material in this 2- inch ring around the plug, leaving the full-sized paper intact around the plug’s perimeter. Spread patching compound around both the opening and the edges of the hole.

Press the plug firmly in place, hold a few minutes until the patch has set, then apply compound over the en tire area.
Another method is to fill smaller holes with crumpled newspaper and patch them with joint compound or patching plaster. A third method is to use a piece of string and a rectangular piece of gypsum board slightly larger than the hole. Put string through the center with the knot in the back and cover the patch’s outside edges with com pound or construction adhesive. Push the patch inside hole, pull on the string to bring the patch against the back of the original wall or ceiling and hold it in place until it sets. Then fill in the area with joint com pound.

Special advice: Another method, similar to the one above, is to insert a section of wallboard longer than the hole, and fasten it in place with sheetrock screws. With all methods, apply patching compound over the entire area, smoothening the material and compound beyond the edges of the damage. Feather the edges so the patch is flush with the wall surface. Remove excess com pound and let the patch dry. Reap- ply more compound if shrinkage occurs, then sand, prime, and paint.

Helpful hint: Patching plaster and spackling compounds are extremely porous and must be primed before painting. In some cases a coat of paint can be used as a primer before a second (final) coat is applied. Check the paint’s label to see if it is recommended as a primer. Allow primers adequate drying time be fore applying final paint.

Defects in Wallboard

Problem: Nails pop out of wall board, or unsightly cracks develop.

Background: Poor materials or original construction technique, changes in temperature, and other problems can cause nail pops or cracks. Cracks often occur in newly constructed homes as the home settles. Some cracks can be annoyingly persistent; however, first try to fix them using the tips below. If that doesn’t work, check with sup pliers for special products such as fiberglass tape designed for hard- to-fix cracks. For tips on handling holes in gypsum board walls or ceilings.

What to do: To fix popped nail heads, first reinforce the area with additional fasteners (nails or screws), driving them about 1 inch to 1½ inches above and below the popped heads. Push the wallboard toward the stud or rafter as you drive the nail in. If using nails, drive slightly into the surface to form a dimple that holds new patching material. Let patching dry overnight and reapply if shrinkage occurs. When patch is completely dry, sand lightly and finish.
To fix narrow cracks, use a stiff brush or screwdriver to remove loose material from the crack. Bend the point of a can opener or similar object into a hook and use it to en large and undercut the crack opening so it will provide a secure hold for the patching compound. (Dampen edges of crack when using patching compound mixed with water.) Fill deep cracks almost to the surface with compound. Let dry, then add another thin coat. Smoothen it on each side by feathering it about 2 inches. Let it dry and sand it smooth.

Special advice: Deep, wide cracks stay patched longer when reinforced with joint tape. Use perforated drywall tape and patching com pound. Sand 6 inches on each side of the crack and work the patching material down into the crack. Then center the tape over the crack, pressing it down with a wide drywall knife. Cover the tape with a coat of the material, smoothing it well beyond the tape edges by feathering. Let the patch dry overnight, then apply an other coat extending 1 inch to 1½ inches beyond the edges of last coat. Smooth, let dry, and lightly sand.

Helpful hint: To make the patch’s edges even with the surface of the wallboard, use feathering strokes when applying patching compound. Make small, successive overlapping X-like strokes across the area, working from the top of the patch to the bottom. Start and end each stroke on an area of clean wall outside of the patch area.