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Drywall 101: Getting Started with Drywall Basics

You probably don’t give your drywall much thought. Unless you accidentally put a hole through it or a smear of mold appears in an inconspicuous corner there usually isn’t much to think about. Caring for drywall doesn’t require much effort, but knowing how to maintain and repair it can save you money and keep your home in tip-top condition. Follow these drywall basics for homeowners and DIY renovators.

Image via Flickr by emily @ go haus go
Image via Flickr by emily @ go haus go

Drywall Basics

Recognizing Drywall Problems

The hole you punched in the drywall with a poorly aimed hammer doesn’t require much in the way of explanation, but other forms of drywall damage might not prove as obvious. Whether it’s a picture-hanging episode gone wrong or moisture damage from a leaking pipe, it’s important to recognize and repair damaged drywall.

Look for changes in the drywall’s color. If part of the wall looks darker than the rest, for instance, you might have moisture damage. If the wall changes color, a mold infestation could be the culprit.

Filling Small Holes

If you tend to hang pictures and then move them to other parts of your home when you get bored with the decor, keep a jar of joint compound handy. Use it to fill small holes, such as those left by picture hooks or nail indentions, so they don’t distract from the beauty of your home.

Smear the joint compound into and around the hole, then allow the compound to dry. Use a paint scraper or putty knife to smooth out the surface of your wall and follow with a few swipes of a sheet of sandpaper.

Replacing Larger Sections

A big drywall hole needs a more elegant solution (but don’t ditch the joint compound just yet). Apply a drywall patch to these larger sections. You’ll need a sheet of drywall, a piece of scrap wood, and a few tools to complete the project.

Use a utility knife to cut a larger square around the hole in your drywall so you have clean edges to work with. Cut a square of fresh drywall to those same dimensions. Slip the scrap wood inside the hole and screw it to the back of the healthy drywall with a screwdriver.

With the wood secure, screw the new drywall to the wood so it sits flush with the rest of the wall. The rest of the job mirrors the process for filling a small hole. Spread joint compound over the patch, then apply drywall tape to the seams.

Priming & Painting

After you fill or patch drywall, you don’t want to leave your work exposed. Prime and paint the area just as you would when painting a whole room. If you don’t have any paint left over from the last time you made over the room, take the piece of drywall you cut out of the wall to your local hardware store and ask them to match it. This saves the time and energy required to repaint the room.

You don’t need a general contractor’s license to replace drywall in your home. Give it a shot on your own, and if you’re not happy with the results, call a pro.

(2) Comments

  1. You did not discuss the size of the piece of wood relative to the drywall patch. It would seem that it needs to be smaller, in order to fit behind and get into the space, but, if so, then what purpose does it serve?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hello C Antell,

      Thank you for your inquiry! You will need the wood behind the piece of drywall because there needs to be something to screw into to hold the drywall in place. When large sheets of drywall are installed they are screwed to the studs of the home. When you cut out a piece there may not be a stud behind the cut out which makes the wood necessary for the new drywall to stay in place. Please let us know if you have any other inquiries!

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