• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to patch a drywall.


    1. For tiny holes and popped nails, use 4-inch drywall knife to apply two or three thin coats of joint compound.
    2. Allow each application of compound to dry, and then sand, between coats.
    3. Repair small- to medium-size holes with an adhesive-backed aluminum drywall patch.
    4. Peel off the protective backing to expose the adhesive, then press the patch to the wall directly over the hole.
    5. Coat entire patch with joint compound, then use 12-inch-wide drywall knife to smooth the compound.
    6. Allow the repair to dry, then sand smooth and apply two or three more coats of compound.
    7. For large holes, cut a piece of drywall slightly larger than hole.
    8. Hold the drywall patch over hole and trace its outline onto the wall.
    9. Cut along the pencil lines with a drywall saw.
    10. Cut two 1x2 cleats slightly longer than the size of the hole.
    11. Apply construction adhesive to the cleats, then slip them into the hole.
    12. Position a cleat to each side of the hole, making sure each extends into the opening.
    13. Attach the cleats to the wall with 1 ¼-inch drywall screws.
    14. Set drywall patch in place screw it to the cleats.
    15. Spread joint compound over the drywall patch.
    16. Press a piece of insect screen into the wet compound.
    17. Force the screen into the compound with a drywall knife, then spread more joint compound on top.
    18. Let the repair dry, then sand and apply two or three more coats of compound.
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
      No experience necessary, but it does require a fair amount of patience
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • plaster hawk
        for holding joint compound
      • drywall knife
        4-inch and 12-inch drywall knives,
        used to apply joint compound
      • drywall saw
        Drywall saw,
        for cutting holes in drywall
      • utility knife
        Utility knife,
        used to cut drywall patch
      • drill
      • caulk gun
        Caulking gun,
        used to apply construction adhesive

      Shopping List

      1. Pre-mixed joint compound

      2. Adhesive-backed aluminum drywall patch
      used to repair small- to medium-size holes

      3. Drywall scrap
      used to patch larger holes

      4. 1x2 pine
      used as mounting cleats for drywall patch

      5. Construction adhesive
      used to adhere 1x2 cleats

      6. 1 ¼-inch drywall screws
      for attaching the drywall patch and cleats

      7. Insect screen
      used to reinforce repair of larger holes