Step-by-Step Guide to Patching Interior Plaster Walls

While not as easy as fixing drywall, patching plaster is still totally DIY-able

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Reviewed by Robert Tschudi
Updated July 26, 2022
A couple plastering a wall
Photo: PHOTO MIO JAPAN / DigitalVision / Getty Images


Flex your DIY muscles.

Time to complete

48 hours

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What you'll need:


  • Safety goggles
  • Face mask
  • Box cutter or hammer and chisel
  • Vacuum
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rag
  • Putty knife
  • Power sander (optional)


  • Drop cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Joint compound
  • Spackle
  • Self-adhesive fiberglass wallboard tape (optional)
  • Medium- or fine-grit sandpaper
  • Wall paint
  • Primer

Interior walls see a lot of action throughout the years, and their wear and tear will eventually show even if you’re as careful as possible. Fortunately, patching up holes is among the easiest home repair projects for beginner DIY-ers. Though the process of fixing plaster is slightly different from repairing drywall, using the right tips and techniques will make it just as smooth and simple. 

"Working with plaster walls is a very different experience than working with sheetrock," says Bob Tschudi, Expert Review Board Member and general contractor in Raleigh, NC. "Plaster walls are heavy with wood lath behind the plaster, and often have structural anomalies, such as horizontal studs everywhere."

This guide will walk you through every step of patching interior plaster walls, from what you’ll need to how to use it.

Prepping to Patch Interior Plaster Walls

Before beginning a repair project like this, take steps to protect your home and yourself. Lay down a drop cloth in your work area, secure it with painter’s tape, and wear goggles and masks at the appropriate times. Also, be prepared to wait for possibly lengthy drying periods. 

6 Steps to Patching Interior Plaster Walls

Though patching interior plaster walls may take a couple of days because of drying times, your workload is minimal.

  1. Remove Jagged Plaster Edges

    Gently remove large pieces of plaster with either a box cutter or hammer and chisel until you have a smooth and even working surface. Any shards that remain will create inconsistencies in your wall if left behind.

  2. Vacuum the Dust and Dirt

    Vacuum up as much dust and debris as possible from your wall and workstation, and then use a microfiber cloth to remove anything that still remains. Finally, use an all-purpose cleaner and rag to clean the area surrounding the hole. 

  3. Apply Spackle to Small Cracks

    A man applying plaster
    Photo: Olga Evtushkova / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

    Use a putty knife to spread a small amount of spackle over any minor cracks in your wall. Apply it evenly and take care to remove any excess. 

  4. Seal Large Holes

    Though small cracks need just a bit of spackle to look and function as good as new, large holes need extra support. Place a strip of self-adhesive fiberglass wallboard tape over the hole, then use a putty knife to cover it with an even layer of joint compound.

  5. Sand to Smooth

    Once your spackle or joint compound has dried, which can take a day or more depending on the humidity levels in your home, sand it until smooth and repeat the previous step if necessary. Take necessary safety precautions, like wearing goggles and an air filtration mask, to keep yourself safe from dust as you sand.

    "The most important step in repairing plaster or gypsum walls is sanding," Tschudi says, "because all that matters is the final look and a seamless patch will make the repair just disappear."

  6. Prime, Paint, and Let Dry

    A woman painting a wall
    Photo: The Good Brigade / DigitalVision / Getty Images

    When the wall patch has fully dried, you’re free to do the fun part: painting! Since you should never paint over damaged plaster, use this opportunity after the fix to try out a new color or even test out the stylish accent wall you’ve been dreaming of. 

DIY Patching Interior Plaster Walls vs. Hiring a Pro

This is an affordable project for anyone to DIY because the necessary materials don’t cost a lot, and you’ll almost always be able to reuse them. In general, you’ll pay a one-time cost of approximately $50 to $100 for all the materials involved if you don’t have them readily available at home, and you’ll have it all on hand for any wall damages that occur in the future. On the other hand, the cost to hire a local wall repair pro to patch plaster wall holes can range anywhere from $50 to $300.

Need professional help with your project?
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