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How to Fix a Large Hole in the Wall

Bathroom Remodeling Tip

As Seen On
by Jeff Patterson in DIY Bathroom Remodel
Fix Large Holes in Walls

Having large holes in your wall isn’t good.

Water leaks, kids playing, clumsy husbands…

They create drywall disasters.

This past weekend I needed to install a pedestal sink.

To do that I had to add wood blocking to the stud bay in the bathroom.

My wall had a gaping hole in it when I was done.

In a few hours I got the wall looking better than new.

I’ll show you how I did it in today’s tutorial  😀

I’m gonna share a ton of great tips.

Any beginner can do what I did but first…

Here’s your supply list

  • Wood Blocking (typically 1 x 3 or 2 x 4 and $2)
  • Measuring Tape (FREE)
  • Decking Screws (2 or 3 inch, $5 for box)
  • Pencil (FREE)
  • Hammer (FREE)
  • Utility Knife ($5)
  • Drywall Saw ($8)
  • New Drywall ($10 max)
  • Drywall Screws (coarse threaded for wood studs, $5 for box of 1 5/8″ long screws)
  • Dimpler or Drywall Screw Setter ($5)
  • Setting Type Joint Compound ($10)
  • Putty Knife ($5)
  • 6 inch Joint Compound Knife ($9)
  • 10 inch Joint Compound Knife ($10)
  • Mud Pan ($14)
  • Drill or Impact Driver (FREE)
  • Drill Bit Set (FREE)
  • Mixing Paddle from Kitchen (FREE but ask!!!)
  • Drywall Paper Tape ($2 for 250 foot roll)
  • Dust Mask ($5)

There are a lot of supplies but you will use them again. Even if you’re fixing smalls holes.

Let’s jump into the first part, figuring out how to get a perfectly cut piece of new drywall for your hole.

 

How to prep your drywall hole

In this tutorial I had to add blocking for a pedestal sink.

If your hole is in the middle of the stud bay it’s a good idea to do one of two things

  • either cut back the drywall to the next stud location
  • or add wood blocking to the old drywall

Adding wood blocking allows you to secure the new drywall. Any 1 x 3 wood will work.

After you do that, measure the hole. Find the largest dimensions for the width and height.

Measure hole dimensions

Cut a new piece of drywall that covers those dimensions.

Place that piece of new drywall over the hole and trace it’s outline on the wall with a pencil

Trace new drywall piece

Cut along the outline with a drywall saw.

I personally like to cut along the outside of the pencil mark to create a slightly bigger opening for the new drywall.

Saw Traced Outline

Score the drywall with a utility knife where it butts against studs, you’ll be able to snap it off if it’s not glued to the stud!!

Thank goodness my drywall wasn’t glued, that can be pain in the @$$.

Make sure all nails and screws are removed from studs.

Mark the stud locations on the old drywall.

Mark Stud Locations

And if you have any pipes in the wall or wiring, mark a HUGE X on the wall to note their location.

You don’t want to accidentally drill a screw into a pipe or wire, that’s a bad surprise waiting to happen.

In the video I give you a good tip if you’re working in a bathroom.

Place tape over any shutoff valves if the supply lines are missing.

This prevents drywall dust from getting into the shutoffs.

Dust in shutoffs will transfer to your faucet and possibly cause it to clog, NOT GOOD!

Now it’s time to install the new piece of drywall.

And boy do I have some great tips for you.

 

Adding new drywall (tips out the wazoo)

Wazoo is a great word.

I looked it up on the urban dictionary. Funny stuff to say the least.

Two things I didn’t mention in the video

  • if you have wood studs use coarse threaded screws
  • if you have steel studs use fine threaded screws

Just a quick tip 😀

I like screws to be 8 inches apart.

Place the new drywall piece in the hole and secure it using a dimpler/drywall screw setter.

Dimpler

Dimplers help set drywall screw the correct depth.

And it’ll help prevent you from tearing the drywall paper, which is a no no.

Here’s the deal, you can use pre-mixed joint compound or setting-type joint compound.

The benefits of pre-mixed joint compound are it’s totally smooth (no chance for lumps) and gives you a great finish.

But it can take a long time to dry.

Setting-type joint compound has to be mixed and this creates a chance for lumpiness and a bad mud job.

That said, if you mix it correctly then you can fix a wall in one day because it will dry quickly.

I like using setting-type joint compound 20 or 45 because it dries in 20 or 45 minutes.

Setting type joint compound

Drying times depend on temperature and humidity though.

Watch my video for all the details on how to mix the joint compound and apply it.

There are way too many details for me to describe in a written post and I don’t want you to fall asleep while reading.

Videos are way better for this kind of project 😀

 

 

What’s Next

Lots of money can be saved by doing your own drywall work.

Our tutorial on how to fix a drywall ceiling saved me at least $600.

Grab our free guide if you’re doing a DIY bathroom remodel – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.

Ask your questions below and we’d be happy to help.

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. Our online store has great supplies for homeowners doing a bathroom remodel. You’ll find shower systems, tiling tools, and more.

43 Comments
  1. Angel Feliciano says:

    Awesome tips, I have a leak under a living room window and thought it may have been due to outside caulking. I would like to determine where the leak is coming from before I tackle a diy project because I caulked the outside and still see moisture on the drywall. Now Im worried if there is mold behind the wall but I want to mediate this problem asap and your video has given me a list of tools and items I need to have in hand so the project is noy drawn out. Again awesome tip Jeff and keep them coming!

    1. We have a similar issue with out home Angel. I suspect either a caulking or mortar problem is the issue. You’ll have to inspect the exterior for any holes or cracks. If you do have mold make sure to wear all the right protective gear when you clean it up or remove the drywall. Stay safe.

  2. David says:

    My rather extensive experience with leaks has shown me time and again that the point where a leak makes its appearance is frequently not the origin of the leak. This is especially true if there is any thing that can be used as a conduit involved, for example pipes, romex or cabling; if a leak can drip on the surface of the conduit and the conduit is not absolutely level, it can run down the surface of the conduit and drip off at a low point. This migration of the leaking water is not limited to a few inches or a few feet; given the right circumstances, a leak can travel quite a distance; thus, in some cases the problem of discovering the source of the leak is much more problematic that the actual repair.

    This is a common, but maddening, problem for automobile dealers whose customers may complain about a leak in their vehicle and when spraying water on the area of the leak produces no results.

    1. Great advice David. I’ve had to deal with several water leaks and they are always baffling. Based on your suggestion it’s good to really analyze the situation before tearing out drywall and assuming there’s a leak where there isn’t.

  3. Pete says:

    Jeff
    You just corrected a few mistakes for me that i was making thank you .

    1. I bet your mistakes weren’t all that bad Pete. Drywall is mostly art to me.

  4. Nancy Leszczynski says:

    Not only was the hole tutorial informative, but I’ve discovered that I’m was too stingy about the area that I always apply dry wall compound. I need to smear it a lot farther that I have been. I guess I always thought that the smaller the area I apply it to the better it will look. But I’m thinking that’s the wrong approach. Did you primer over the compound before painting it, or can you just paint over it? Thanks Jeff!!!!

    1. Good question about the primer Nancy. I’m going to use Kilz to prime then a latex paint over the primer.

      I know how you feel about the joint compound. Sometimes you just want to use a little but don’t be afraid to use more and feather it out from the hole.

  5. Kim says:

    Thank you for this! I am about to do some patching over the spring break holidays. However, I am a little nervous about trying to replicate the wall texture. It is a flattened type orange peel that is all over the house. Any tips for that? Thanks for the dimpler tip too. I didn’t know about those. 🙂

    1. They make spray on texture Kim that you might want to experiment with. Whatever method you choose I recommend trying it on a scrap piece of drywall to get the texture right. Then you can apply it to your wall 😀

  6. Joe Colunga says:

    Our house had an intercom system (no longer functional). One panel was located outdoors at the back patio (weird?) and the other was in the library/home office. My wife wanted it removed because it was big and noticeable (about 7×12) and I said I would (and got nagged about it every 6 months for 2-3 years). One day while at a home improvement center, I came across a metal screen plate specifically for patching holes in drywall. It was pretty cheap and I knew we already had compound at home so I got it, removed the panel and patched the hole. It was super easy to do well. Of course, that led to re-decorating the whole room and new pain, but the patch/repair was seamless. Even my MIL was impressed! Your video gives me the confidence to repair drywall without the screen. Luckily, I don’t have that need right now and let’s hope I won’t have it anytime soon.

    1. Well you’re a good guy Joe for tackling the project. Those screens are pretty good and make patches easier.

      My wife had a request that took me 2-3 years, too. When I finally got the project done I actually got more heat for not doing it sooner. Well deserved though 😀

  7. Britt Dodd says:

    I cannot believe that setting-type joint compound or dimplers even existed! Both of those would be very handy to have during my next drywall endeavor. Drywall is not kind to taking shortcuts, so thank you for teaching us how tips to do things the right way!

    Britt

    1. Thanks Britt. I love setting-type compound if I’m in a rush to get a patch done. Admittedly the pre-mixed is super smooth and doesn’t run the risk of having clumps in it. Yah, dimplers are pretty awesome.

      1. Adam Snyder says:

        Jeff, I have become a fan of the powder joint compound because I never need very much of it. Even if you get the smallest tub of pre-mixed, you have to throw away anything that is unused. It DOES goes bad once the tub has been opened. You’ll know it has gone bad by the green layer that grows on top of it.

        1. HOLLIE says:

          Adam Snyder-I’ve used the large buckets of pre-mixed joint compound…I live in an old 1905 Victorian Home and use lots of it…when you are finished for the day, pour 1/2 inch of water on top of remaining compound…replace lid tightly…when ready to use again, pour off water, everything inside the bucket is moist, mix it, adding a little water to the perfect consistency..it’s cheaper, don’t have to mess with the dry powder, no lumps, keep in a cool area…even the premixed, smaller containers this works wonders!!!

  8. Tim Wallace says:

    I don’t have any tips since I’ve never done any drywall work before, but I do have a hole in my basement bathroom celing from where I found a leak from my upstairs bathtub. That problem is actually how I found your website with the tutorial for how to fix a leaky tub drain. The hole has been sitting there staring at me for months, so now I have some motivation and know-how to actually get the job done right! Thanks again Jeff! You always have awesome timing with these posts!


    Tim

    1. Well I’m stoked that this post was timely!!! Don’t worry, I get why you didn’t want to tackle the ceiling. It’s not exactly fun the first time. But the tips here will help. And if you have any questions you can post it in the FB community. Along with your pics 😀

  9. Karen says:

    Learned so much from your repair. Now I need to get some of my patches started. Thanks

    1. Glad to help any time Karen. And for smaller patches you don’t have to do as much work. In case you missed it, here’s another tutorial for small drywall holes

      http://hrtllc.wpengine.com/how-to-fix-a-small-hole-in-the-wall/

  10. Char says:

    Definitely a keeper Jeff.
    Thankfully not in my list of 102 other things that need doing right now, but will no doubt need it in the future.
    Keep ’em coming!
    Thank you,
    Char

    1. That’s one big list Char, let me know if you want any tutorials on something specific 😀

  11. Andi says:

    You’ve done it again! This is such a great one to have…I just so happen to have a large hole in a wall, that I’ve moved a bed in front of. Now I can truly fix it and not feel I must decorate around it!
    Thanks again, Jeff!! You’re a lifesaver!
    ~A

    1. Thanks Andi, and a bed hiding a hole isn’t that bad. That’s ingenious!

      Let me know if you have any questions

  12. John VanDerLinden says:

    Hang a mirror over the whole

    1. Not a bad idea John 😀

  13. joseph myers says:

    I found using perforated tape works best because it sticks better.

    1. Mesh tape is pretty cool like that Joseph. For rough surfaces I like using mesh tape so that air pockets can be released. In this case, the wall wasn’t textured so I chose paper tape instead.

  14. Mike says:

    I have so done this. I was inspecting my daughter’s bathroom and I don’t know if I told you how the builder grade tub and enclosures were terrible because anytime water splashed above the 6 foot tall portion it was mud/drywall tape just disintegrating day after day (being 6′ 8″ has disadvantages). Our master bath had it happen withing the first few years of buying the model home in our neighborhood. So I took a lot of photos of me tearing out the drywall and replacing it with the concrete backer board with the grid on it so it all things were level (and I had to shim things due to lovely builder quality homes. But in the end my tile has held up nicely. That was my first time doing ceramic tile on a wall. It was such a easy process thanks to the concrete backer board. So back to my daughters bathroom – it looks tacky but maybe Bondo or plaster of paris could be used instead of me tearing that all apart. What do you think Jeff?

    1. Depending on your situation Mike you might be able to apply mesh tape and setting-type compound. Post some pics over on the HRT Facebook Community page and we’ll take a look at what your options are for the space 😀

      Great job with your first tile job. it can be scary but sounds like you had a fun time doing it.

  15. Mike says:

    This isn’t my website I sent you it is just an example of a job I need to tackle under the kitchen sink where the particle board got wet due to a waste water plumbing leak in PVC (that I did not notice and my wife failed to tell me). I looked at most of the PVC running to the drains and that main 2.5″ line had no primer or cement holding the connections together. So if you look at this guys issue ( that is easy). Mine requires me to cut out around the copper fill pipes and the loose takeaway (that I fixed with cement). But the connection on the elbow maybe 2 feet down is loose and it drips on the finished basement’s popcorn ceiling. (I hate popcorn ceilings). So I am going to run my 3 foot inspection camera down there and see if I can get PVC cement down into it so there is no reason for me to mess with replacing the finished basement’s ceiling ever!! I will send you some photos of the job if you like. I don’t really have a great circular tool to cut out the nasty wet particle board flush with the inner cabinets walls. Do I just put a 4.5″ saw blade on my handheld grinder and use that to get up close and saw flush into the floor board and cabinet’s walls? I have photos of the job and I might start on Saturday or Sunday. Or Monday through Friday when nobody is home. Fun Fun Fun – any advice is appreciated!!

    1. Hey Mike, post those pictures over on the HRT Private Facebook Group so we can all take a look and lend you a hand. I like the Family Handyman article, although I’d recommend using deck screws instead of drywall screws.

  16. Adam Snyder says:

    Crap, now I have no excuse for not fixing the big hole behind my bathroom sinks. How about a tutorial on changing the supply hoses? 🙂 I know it is pretty straightforward, but I think there are some tricks involved.

    1. Lol, don’t worry. If you get stuck we’ll help you out Adam.

      Yah, supply hoses can be a pain. If you’re not removing the sink I recommend getting a Ridgid 4-1 Faucet and Sink Installer tool. It’s worth every bit of the $20. That might be on my to-do list in terms of tutorials. Okay, for you I’ll add it 😀

  17. HOLLIE says:

    Jeff..I love all your videos..live in an old 1905 Victorian Home…been restoring it by myself for years…every room has wallpaper, lath & plaster, etc. I’m pretty good at patching holes, fixing cracks, texturing…I buy the buckets of joint compound-when done, poor 1/2 inch of water in bucket, put lid back on…poor water off, mix & ready to use again…I texture with a 10 inch hand trowel, by hand, like a venetian plaster look…when dry I take a damp sponge, lightly go over the wall & it smoothes the rough lines…it’s hard fixing but keeping the historical look!! One room had lead paint under wallpaper..so I covered the whole room in new, thin sheetrock..textured, primed & painted..! Thanks for your tips, etc…I love your Website, videos, tips & most of all…restoring our Old House!!

    1. Wow Hollie, great tips. Old homes like you have are so beautiful. A lot of work, but pretty. Love how you decided to add the new drywall instead of dealing with the lead paint and wallpaper. That was super smart. I have a fan with a popcorn ceiling issue and I’m going to recommend that instead removing the popcorn ceiling he just drywall right over it. So much safer!! Thanks again for your wonderful tips and hard work.

      1. HOLLIE says:

        I you are covering over an existing wall or ceiling, find the thinnest sheetrock, I think we used 1/4″…it just goes against the door frames, window frames and you don’t have to remove anything…I know a lady who did this to every room in her whole house…instead of tearing out old lath & plaster..alot of work and messy job…just put a thin layer of sheetrock…saves repairing a lot of cracks and holes too!! I’ve tried the mesh tape and don’t like it..it’s hard to get smooth..the paper tape is much nicer and smooth…what’s the mesh tape used for? Hint..don’t try filling cracks in a wall with just joint compound…it needs to be taped or it will just crack again!!

  18. paul says:

    how do you repair a crack in the ceiling that has a texture finish

  19. Steve Holt says:

    Your tips for adding new drywall will help me save a lot of time. I have wood studs, but I need to check if they have coarse threaded screws. It’s a good thing that you mentioned that or else I wouldn’t have known until after I used them. I’ll be sure to check and get the right kind of wood studs if the ones I have don’t use coarse threaded screws. Thanks for the post!

  20. Thanks for this! I needed instructions, as I’m not terribly craft, and I am terribly scatter-brained. Also, the supply list will save me. I needed to know what I was missing for the job (the dust mask is a must).

  21. tino says:

    Hi jeff, l just bought a house and it needs some repairs, l am learning how to fix them and l need all the help l can get, so l watched some of your videos and they have help me a lot. thanks.

    1. Awesome Tino, congrats on your new house.

      Let me know if you have any questions, we’re always here to help.

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