If you’ve got drywall, you’ll eventually need drywall repair. It’s that simple. It’s not unusual that at some point you’ll need either ceiling repair or wall repair, where there are holes or cracks within the drywall. Common reasons for drywall repair are:
- Damage caused by a doorknob, rambunctious child’s toy or swift kick
- Water damage from a leaking roof or plumbing which consequently damages the drywall ceiling
- Home improvements such as adding an electrical outlet or removing old cable or wiring
The good news is that drywall ceilings and walls are usually fairly easy to repair, and when the job is done properly and painted with skill, the damage will disappear. This drywall repair guide covers these topics:
Understanding how to repair a hole or crack within your drywall is very useful, but you what are your options? Your two options are to make a localized repair of the damage or to replace the entire sheet of drywall. Each has its pros and cons:
Local repair: This is the standard technique for damage to a small to medium-sized area. There’s less mess with a local repair. Small holes require only spackling, no additional drywall. If drywall is needed, a piece of scrap material might be large enough for the purpose, saving you some money. The caution regarding local repair is that any large piece must be fastened to a stud or other suitable bracket for stability, and inserting and securing the mounting material can be difficult.
Full-sheet repair: This is the simplest ways to repair large holes in drywall. The sheet is removed from the studs and a new piece of drywall is screwed in place. The joints are taped, mudded and sanded, resulting in a clean repair that might blend better with the rest of the wall than a small patch.
The main disadvantage to this method is the need for precise cutting out of the old sheet, which is time-consuming and difficult, so sheets next to it aren’t damaged. Also, replacing a full sheet is a larger mudding, taping and sanding project.
Drywall repair costs are determined differently than drywall installation costs for two reasons. First, most drywall contractors and handymen charge a minimum fee for any job. Secondly, repair is more labor-intensive and time-consuming relative to the amount of drywall installed.
A handyman will charge less than a drywall contractor, and as long as the handyman has experience, the job quality can be just as good. We always recommend getting a quote from a contractor where possible. Let’s break down the costs for drywall repair by material and labor:
Drywall Repair Materials Cost
- Sheet of drywall: $6 to $12, depending on type. Acoustical drywall panels cost more.
- Small container of joint compound and a roll of tape: $15 to $20.
- Tools: Most will have their own tools, but if purchased, the cost will be $15 to $50 based on the quality of the tools.
Total materials cost for drywall repair: $40 to $80
Drywall Repair Labor Cost
- Handyman: $25 to $50 minimum plus $40 to $100 per repair.
- Contractor: $40 to $100 minimum plus $75 to $200 per repair.
This makes the grand total for drywall repair costs to be approximately $115 to $380 based on who does the repair, the cost of materials and tools and how long the work takes.
Most small repairs in which a patch of drywall is used require 3 to 6 hours of labor. This is because multiple layers of joint compound need to be applied. Using fast-drying compound can be used in some cases, so that the repair is made in one day.
If you’re a DIY enthusiast or motivated to save money on the repair, these drywall repair tips will help. It’s not a complete step-by-step drywall repair guide, but we include a link to one below.
Keep in mind that your two options are to patch the drywall sheet or to remove the sheet and add a new one. If you’re not confident in doing this yourself then we highly recommend you get several free no-obligation quotes from drywall contractors who do know what they’re doing. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and achieve a better finish in the long run.
Filling minor drywall damage: Gouges, scratches and very small holes can simply be filled with drywall compound or spackling. Holes up to the size of a quarter can be covered with self-adhering mesh drywall tape and covered with compound or spackling. You’ll need:
- Utility knife
- Drywall compound or spackling
- A 2” putty knife
- Mesh drywall tape
- Fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding screen
Start by using the utility knife to remove all loose drywall paper and gypsum. Then, employ the putty knife to apply the material to the damaged area and a few inches around it. Add a second coat, if the compound settles when it dries. The last step is to sand the dry compound very lightly, taking care not to rough up the surrounding surface. Prime and paint the area, feathering the new paint into the old.
Patching drywall: This repair involves removing all of the damaged drywall, cutting a drywall patch, installing, mudding and sanding it. There are two keys to the job. First, make sure you cut the patch from drywall of the same thickness, so that it lays flush with the surrounding surface. Secondly, the patch must be held securely in place either by attaching it to studs or to some type of bracket made for drywall repair. See the links below for helpful how-to tips and videos for patching drywall. Tools and materials for patching drywall are:
- Drywall saw
- 6-inch taping knife
- 12-inch taping knife
- Utility knife
- Screwdriver or drill
- Framing square
- Drywall patch bracket
- Drywall screws
- Drywall compound
- Drywall tape
- Sand paper or sanding block
Replacing a sheet of drywall: The same tools and materials listed for repairing holes are required with the addition of a stud finder. In brief, your goal here is to remove damaged drywall all the way to the studs. Locate the studs at the edge of the sheet, and use a utility knife to cut the drywall, using the insides of the studs to guide you. The last preparation step is to use a level and framing square to remove the drywall covering half the vertical stud. You’ll have to cut through the drywall tape and joint compound. Exposing half the stud will give you a solid place to anchor the new drywall. Use the stud finder to locate studs you’re covering, and secure the drywall to them too. Drywall screws should be installed every 16 inches vertically.
See our Drywall Installation Prices and Costs guide for more details on installing full sheets of drywall along with helpful links for more information. When making a drywall repair, it is important to use the same type and thickness of drywall as the surrounding wall to make sure it performs as it should. To learn more, see our Guide to Drywall Types and Prices.
The following are user submitted prices and costs for their drywall repair project. Help us build our list by submitting your project prices and costs using our simple contact form.
|Type||Details||Where?||Sq. Ft.||Cost Per Sq .Ft||Total Cost|
|Repair||Drywall repair in approximately 6 bedrooms||Bedrooms||3,400 sq. ft.||$1.13||$3,000|
|Repair / Patching||Repair and patch a damaged ceiling within the sitting room area.||Sitting Room||Unknown||$2.00 – $2.25||Unknown|
Helpful Links for Drywall Repair
How to Make Drywall Repairs: Here’s a how-to guide from the experts at This Old House for making drywall repairs.
Repair Drywall Corners: If you’ve got damaged drywall corners, here’s a helpful resource for making the repairs.
Watch Drywall Repairs In Action – Repairing A Small Hole: Watch a homeowner repair small holes and gouges in drywall.
Watch Drywall Repairs In Action – Repairing a Large Hole: This video features a painting contractor repairing a large hole in drywall.