When Should You Hire a Pro for Drywall Repair vs. DIY?

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated January 20, 2022
Boy having fun jumping on bed
Photo: Rawpixel /iStock / Getty Images Plus

Big dents or small cracks, someone needs to break out the spackle

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Dance parties, pillow fights, and indoor soccer matches—it’s all fun and games until someone puts a big ol’ hole in your drywall. Suddenly, you need to repair drywall damage, fast. Marred sheetrock will no longer offer your home protection from the outdoors, and it will usually get worse over time. Should you fix it yourself or hire a pro? This guide will help you decide whether hiring a pro for drywall repair is the right call.

Why Is It Important to Repair Damaged Drywall?

Drywall is tough, but it’s not indestructible. And no, it’s not a good idea to leave drywall in its damaged state. Not only does damaged drywall affect your home’s appearance, but it also exposes the interior to the elements, and it can hurt energy efficiency.

  • You won't get a smooth look when you paint over it. Even tiny cracks will protrude through the paint and stick out like a sore thumb. 

  • Cracked or pierced drywall exposes your home to the elements such as wind, moisture, and pests.

  • Drywall damage makes your home less energy efficient as heat and AC escape through damaged regions of drywall and bump up your energy bills.

Drywall damage is as common as household accidents. A wayward toy may leave a dent, a settling foundation can expose stress cracks, or water damage may force you to replace entire sheets. Relatively minor repairs are perfect weekend DIY projects, but significant repairs are better suited to a local drywall contractor.

When to Hire a Pro for Drywall Repair

Worker installing new drywall
Photo: gilaxia / E+ / Getty Images

You should hire a pro if your handyperson experience is, well, lacking. A drywall repair professional can do the job quickly, efficiently, and correctly, giving you peace of mind. Common repairs better left to a pro include:

  • Large holes

  • Significant cracks that could indicate foundation issues

  • Water damage 

Drywall contractors have the right tools and materials to handle large repairs, such as a drywall saw, drill, pre-mixed joint compound, drywall tape, drywall screws, spackle, furring strips, and more. Purchasing these tools can get costly, especially if they’ll just sit in your garage after a one-time use. 

Drywall pros also know the best type of drywall to choose from and make the repairs promptly, whereas your lack of experience could turn an hour-long task into a weekend project. Plus, if your repair is indicative of a more serious issue, such as a foundation problem, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction for a quick resolution. 

When to Repair Drywall Yourself

Eager to take on a small drywall patching job? Go ahead and DIY it. Grab your tools and get to work—just make sure to work in ample lighting and prep your wall first to ensure your repair meshes with the rest of your wall. Common repair jobs that are definitely DIY-able include:

  • Small holes

  • Scuffed drywall

  • Loose inside-corner tape

  • Doorknob dents

Not only is going the DIY route fun for a handy homeowner, it is also more cost-effective. For about $45, you can buy everything you need (except paint), including a piece of drywall measuring 8 feet x 4 feet. As a bonus, you’ll likely have leftover supplies that you can use to make additional repairs in the future.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair Drywall?

The typical cost of drywall repair is between $100 and $1,100, with labor accounting for most of the budget. Handypeople, suitable for small repairs, typically charge about $60 per hour, while contractors charge about $90 per hour for major repairs. 

Final costs will depend on the size and scope of the project, the location of the damage, necessary materials, and whether you need additional repair work. You can purchase a drywall repair kit for $10 to $30 for small drywall repairs. For more significant issues, budget for more supplies: 

  • Sheets of drywall: $45

  • Drywall tape: $5 per roll

  • Screws: $6 per pound

  • Spackle: $4 to $16 per container

  • Paint: $15 to $25 per quart

To add a smooth finish to the repaired drywall, you can opt for a skim coat. Skim coating drywall costs about $1.10–$1.30 per square foot. While a more time-intensive drywall finish like skip troweling costs $1.25 to $2.00 per square foot.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Drywall?

When a simple repair doesn’t suffice, you may need to replace the drywall entirely. Installing drywall typically costs somewhere between $1,000 and $2,900. The average cost to install drywall, including the labor and materials, is between $1.50 to $3 per square foot, or about $60 to $90 per drywall panel. So, a standard 200 square foot living room could run around $1,500, while a small utility room would run $500 in total.

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