No matter how careful you may be, there will likely be holes and chips in your drywall at some point. Some of these might even be purposely inflicted, since you'll need to create small holes to hang pictures and shelves. Others may be the result of moving furniture, rowdy kids, or other accidents. No matter how the dings got into your wall, fixing the problems can really make a room look like new, which is especially important if you plan to sell the house in the future. You can easily hire a handyman to take care of drywall holes, but if you want to save money, these repairs aren't difficult to do on your own. With just a few tools and a little free time, you can make the fixes and repaint the walls to look as good as new.
Dings, Chips, and Very Small Holes
One of the tricks I learned in college is that if you need to fill in a hole from a poster you weren't supposed to hang, you can just use white toothpaste. It's fast, it's easy, and you can't tell the difference. While I don't suggest this low-budget, last-minute technique in your own home, fixing a very small hole, like you make with small nails or pegs, is really just as easy. All you need is small dab of spackling paste or joint compound. Smooth it over the hole and allow it to dry before dabbing on a bit of paint if needed.
Of course, not every problem can be fixed by a little dab of paste on your finger. If the hole is a bit larger, you'll need some better tools to get the job done. When you can cover the hole with just one or two pieces, use self-adhesive mesh tape, which you can find at any home improvement store. First, sand the edges of the hole and around the hole. It doesn't have to be completely smooth, but you want to make sure the tape adheres and that there are no pieces sticking out.
From there, repairing the hole is easy. Use one or two pieces of the mesh tape to completely cover the hole. If you need more tape than that, you're better off using the method described in for larger holes. When the hole is covered with tape, use a small putty knife to spread spackling paste over the entire area. The tape will help to keep the paste in place over the hole. Then, use a larger putty knife or drywall trowel to smooth the entire area. Once it is dry, you can sand it if necessary, and then a coat of paint should disguise the hole perfectly.
If the hole is gigantic, you'll likely need to replace an entire sheet of drywall (or more), but if the hole is smaller, yet too large to be covered by mesh tape, you can patch it with a smaller piece of drywall. Start by finding the studs on either side of the hole and mark them with a pencil. You'll want to draw horizontal lines at least an inch above and below the hole and vertical lines that span from the horizontal lines down the center of each stud. You can use a drywall saw to cut along the horizontal lines, and then a utility knife to cut along the vertical lines. Pop the rectangle piece with the hole out of the wall and use it was a guide to trace a rectangle on a new piece of drywall.
You want the piece of drywall you cut out to be slightly smaller than the hole you've made, but by no more than a quarter inch on each side. Pop the new piece into the hole and use nails to hold it in place in each corner. Then, use joint compound to cover theseam completely. It's ok if you can still see the seam through the joint compound at this point, since the next step is to use pieces of joint tape to cover the seams. Go over the entire piece with more joint compound, use a trowel to smooth the edges, and wait for it to dry. You'll likely need to sand the area smooth, but after you do so and paint the patch, you shouldn't be able to tell the difference.
If you are dealing with an extremely large hole or many smaller holes over a large area, replacing the entire sheet of drywall might be necessary. The process is the same, except you'll need to use more nails to secure the new piece in place.
Key Hiring Tips
From large to small projects, before you select any contractor be sure to take the time to properly screen them. The time it takes now to screen a contractor will help ensure success for your home improvement project and avoid problems down the road.