From the smallest dent to large holes, there are several ways to fix surface defects on your walls.

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Before You Shop

Consider these points and plan your purchases accordingly:

  • Decide whether you want to repaint the whole wall or just touch up patched areas. If you’re patching tiny nail holes, you can cover up the repairs by dabbing on touch-up paint with a soft cloth.
  • If you’re patching a large number of holes and other damage, prime the patched walls before repainting — especially if you’re choosing a semi-gloss or shinier finish. The higher the gloss, the more different surface textures appear between the patch and the surrounding paint.

Before you begin your repair, it’s important to know the utility placement in your home. Typically, electric wires are attached to wall studs. Locate the wall studs before you begin cutting, drilling or nailing drywall.


Wear protective clothing, work gloves, goggles and a dust mask when working with drywall.

Small Dents and Dings

spackle bringing a small dent level in drywall repair

Scrape away loose debris from the hole. Cover the hole or dent with fast-drying spackle to bring the spackle level with the drywall surface and let it dry 24 hours — or the time recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions. Sand smooth.

Watch our Video: How Do I Use Sandpaper?

Popped Nail Heads

A popped nail isn’t holding in the stud and backs out of the drywall, creating a popped nail head.

Step 1

driving screw beneath the drywall surface for popped nail repair

Drive a drywall screw 1 1/2 inches above the popped nail head into the stud to reattach the drywall to the stud. Sink the screw head just below the surface of the drywall so it can be covered with spackle.

Step 2

popped nail now beneath the wall surface

Drive in the popped nail.

Step 3

apply spackle over drywall repair to bring the surface level with the wall

Cover the sunken screw head and nail head with spackle until level with the wall surface. Wait 24 hours or the time recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions. Sand smooth.

Small Holes

For small holes, like those created by a doorknob, a patch kit may be used.

Step 1

mesh patch over a small hole in the drywall

Place the self-adhesive mesh patch over the hole.

Step 2

covering mesh patch on drywall with joint compound in criss-cross pattern

Use a drywall knife to cover the patch with lightweight joint compound in a crisscross pattern, feathering the edges so it blends with the wall. To feather the edge, increase pressure and angle on the drywall knife as you reach the outer edges of the patch area to minimize, or thin, the joint compound on the drywall.

Step 3

2nd coat of compound on drywall patch

Let the patch dry and apply a second coat of compound if needed. Sand smooth.

Medium Holes

For holes up to 6 inches, use the California Patch.

Watch our DIY Basics video: How Do I Cut Drywall?

Step 1

cutting a piece of drywall that will become the patch for repair

Cut a piece of drywall into a square shape that’s 2 inches larger in width and height than the area to be repaired.

Step 2

back of patch with lines drawn 1-inch from each edge

Score the back of the drywall with a box cutter or knife about an inch from each side.

Step 3

patch with pieces of gypsum snapped away but paper backing left intact

Snap off the gypsum, but leave the paper backing intact.

Step 4

tracing around the gypsum part of the patch for drywall repair

Hold the patch over the hole and trace around the gypsum square. Do not include the paper border in your transfer. Cut out the traced square with a drywall knife.


Before cutting, check the hole for electrical wires. Typically, they are attached to studs.

Step 5

applying compound to the back of the drywall paper to adhere the patch to the wall

Apply joint compound to the back of the paper border. Fit the gypsum into the new hole and press the paper edges coated with joint compound into place along the outside edge of the hole.

Step 6

spackle covering entire california patch, feathering the edges onto the drywall

Cover the entire patch with joint compound until the lines are camouflaged, feathering the edges.

Step 7

drywall patch with two coats of compound

This patch may require two coats of compound, with dry time in between coats. Sand smooth.

Large Holes

For holes larger than 6 inches, you’ll create a drywall patch with a different attachment method for the repair.

Step 1

cutting a scrap piece of drywall a little larger than the wall damage

Cut a piece of drywall into a square a little bit bigger than the hole.

Step 2

tracing the edges of the drywall patch with a pencil

Hold the square over the hole in the drywall and trace around the edges.

Step 3

cutting large hole with a drywall knife

Cut along the lines on the wall with a drywall knife.


Before cutting, check the hole for electrical wires. Typically, they are attached to studs.

Step 4

securing furring strips with a drill and drywall screws

Inside the hole, attach a furring strip, a small, thin piece of wood, to either side of the hole with screws. Sink the screws beneath the surface of the drywall.

Step 5

securing large drywall patch to furring strips with drywall screws

Set the drywall patch in place and screw it into the furring strips, sinking the screws beneath the surface of the drywall.

Step 6

drywall patch with mesh tape around the seams

Apply joint tape to the borders of the patch. Joint tape is made of mesh and strengthens the bond between the patch and the wall, reducing movement and helping to prevent future cracks.

Step 7

joing compound covering both drywall patch and mesh tape

Cover the patch and tape with joint compound, feathering the edges. Allow the compound to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply a second coat if needed. Sand smooth.

Corner Bead Patch

Corner bead is used where two pieces of drywall meet to form a corner. Corner bead is available in a variety of materials, including metal, paper and vinyl.

Step 1

hacksaw cutting through damaged corner bead

Cut the damaged corner bead horizontally, both above and below the mar, with a hacksaw.

Step 2

utility knife connecting the horizontal cuts made by the hacksaw

Use a utility knife to cut vertically along the drywall, connecting the top and bottom cuts from the hacksaw on the left and right sides. Remove the damaged piece.

Step 3

snipping the corner bead to the repair area

Cut a new piece of corner bead to fill the gap and attach it to the wall with nails or the manufacturer’s recommended fastener or adhesive.

Step 4

applying compound to the corner repair with a drywall joint knife

Apply joint compound to both sides of the corner, covering the bead patch to smooth rough edges and cover any seams, feathering the edges. Let dry and sand smooth.

Finish the Repair

Step 1

sanding the drywall repair with a sanding sponge

Finish all repairs with a final light sanding to ensure a satin smooth finish and seamless blending between the patch and the wall.

Step 2

applying primer over the repaired drywall

Cover with a coat of primer, and let dry.

Step 3

rolling interior paint onto the repaired drywall

Finish with paint.

Repair Textured Drywall

Step 1

bristles of stiff brush coated with compound

Sand your patch area smooth. In a small bowl, mix 4 parts joint compound and 1 part water. Dip a stiff brush into the mixture and hold it close to the wall, bristles up.

Step 2

texture developing on repair area from compound flicking

Flick the mixture onto the wall by running a gloved finger across the surface of the bristles. Typically, the faster the flicking motion the smaller the particles on the wall.

Good to Know

Practice and perfect the flicking motion on a scrap board before applying to your wall.

Step 3

flattening the flicked compound with a drywall joint knife to create a knock-down finish

For a knock-down finish — one where a trowel presses joint compound down to form a texture that’s more mottled than a flat wall — lightly flatten the particles with a knife as the compound mixture begins to dry.

Step 4

spraying repair area with texturizing spray

As an alternative to flicking compound, you can use textured spray in a variety of finishes. Shake the can and spray the patch area in a circular motion 6-18 inches from the wall.

Step 5

cans of texture spray for manufacturer's instructions

Allow the textured compound to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then prime and paint the surface.