How to Patch a Hole in Drywall: 5 Methods to Try

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated September 12, 2022
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For most drywall holes, you can do the repair work yourself in a few hours

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Drywall is one of the most common home materials used to cover walls and ceilings. It’s beloved by homeowners and pros alike because it’s inexpensive and easy to install. Unfortunately, you can easily damage your drywall with one wrong move. Luckily, we’ll walk you through how to patch a hole in drywall DIY style. 

What Should I Know About Patching Drywall?

Whether you pulled your chair out too quickly or have decided to redesign your gallery wall, drywall holes are not uncommon. Thankfully, the very softness that makes drywall easy to install also makes it easy to repair.

When determining how to fix drywall, the first thing to decide is whether you're dealing with one small hole or ding, many small holes and dings, or a large hole. 

A medium-to-large hole includes any area of damage 6 inches and larger. As we'll outline below, learning how to fix small holes in drywall requires a bit of spackling, sanding, and painting. However, large holes require learning a patch method, which can get complicated if you need to add support brackets or dodge nearby electrics.

How Much Does It Cost to Patch a Drywall Hole?

A DIY drywall patch project typically costs about $45, including the spackle or joint compound, patch, and furring strips. Keep in mind that this price doesn’t include tools such as a putty knife, utility knife, drywall saw, or a screw gun. You also need to account for the cost of primer and paint, which runs between $15 to $35.

How to Prep for Patching a Drywall Hole

Always begin by checking the space for obstructions such as wires, pipes, or ducts—if you find any, proceed with caution, especially with wires. Be sure to work around them and call a local drywall professional if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.

Inspect the hole in your drywall and the area around it. If you're dealing with a large hole or a hold surrounded by dents and dings, you may be better off opting for a large patch. On the other hand, holes smaller than 6 inches or a large dent where the doorknob slammed for 20 years may not require any major surgery.

Before jumping in, you should also make a plan for repainting the wall. If you don’t have the original paint, speak with your local hardware store about paint color matching. And keep in mind that paints with higher sheens will show more imperfections, including patched dents and holes.

How to Fix a Hole in Your Drywall

Close-up of a man repairing a drywall
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Let's start with a quick lesson on the difference between spackle and joint compound—two of the most common adhesives you'll use in determining how to patch drywall. Spackle is ideal for quick and small fixes. It dries fast, it’s easy to use, and you can sand it to blend in with its surroundings.

However, joint compound—also called drywall mud—is the more durable choice for paper joint tape and fixing large holes. It takes 24 hours to dry, it can be tricky to mix, and it may shrink as it dries, so while it's stronger, it takes more finesse.


When dealing with a small dent, ding, or hole less than an inch small, spackle is all you need to patch a drywall hole. Fast-drying spackle will dry in a few hours, so be sure to work quickly. Here's what to do:

  1. Sand and scrape around the dent or hole to remove any loose drywall to create an even surface.

  2. Add spackle over the dent or hole with a putty knife, spreading the outer edges thin to match the wall.

  3. Let the spackle dry for the full amount of time in the container. 

  4. Sand smooth, primer, and paint.

Paper Joint Tape

Paper joint tape or drywall tape will look like thicker masking tape, but it works much differently. Paper joint tape does not adhere on its own to the wall but instead requires a few layers of joint compound to connect it to the wall. 

However, the tape layer is strong enough to cover the hole while flat enough to blend with the area. It is an ideal fix for a mid-sized hole around 1 inch, especially when the top layer of drywall splays outward. Apply paper joint tape by following these steps:

  1. Flatten the hole or dent as much as possible by cutting away frayed drywall paper from the edges.

  2. Cut two pieces of joint tape several inches larger than the hole.

  3. Place one piece of joint tape diagonally across the hole and adhere with a flat layer of joint compound.

  4. Lay the second strip of tape across the hole in an X shape and repeat the compound process.

  5. Allow the compound to cure.

  6. Add another layer of compound, if necessary, to fully cover the tape and edges of the hole.

  7. Allow it to dry once more, and then sand, prime, and paint.

Self-Adhesive Patch

Mesh drywall patches are a great option for holes between 1 and 6 inches in size. They often come in squares of various sizes or as a tape similar to above. However, the patch will adhere to the outer edges. Remember that this is not your best bet for holes larger than 6 inches, as those will require more support.

  1. Place the self-adhesive patch over the hole on a clean, sanded surface.

  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions with the patch for drying and adhesive time before applying compound.

  3. Apply spackle or joint compound with a spackling knife, smoothing the edges with the wall.

  4. Sand the compound once it's dry before priming and painting.

Butterfly Patch

Fixing mid-sized holes in drywall may require a trick with several unexpected names. The butterfly patch or California patch matches a new piece of gypsum drywall exactly to the shape of the hole. A butterfly patch is an excellent alternative to installing backer boards or furring strips to support the new piece of drywall. 

  1. Sand down the outside of the hole as much as possible, removing any frayed bits of paper.

  2. Hold a thin piece of paper over the hole and trace its shape with a pencil.

  3. Cut out a square patch of replacement drywall several inches larger than the hole.

  4. Place your tracing over the back of the drywall patch.

  5. Using a utility knife, score the drywall, cutting into the gypsum but not the front layer of paper.

  6. Cut away the edges of the gypsum around the hole, leaving a square patch of paper with a backing of gypsum the exact size of the hole.

  7. Surround the hole with thin layers of compound.

  8. Place the patch into the hole so the paper sits flush against the edge and on top of the compound.

  9. Spread more compound around the outside of the hole, securing the paper to the wall.

  10. Allow the compound to cure, sand the area, and primer and paint.

Drywall Replacement

Holes larger than 6 inches require more support to protect the surrounding wall and keep the patch from slipping or bulging over time. In this case, you need to remove more walls around the hole for an even patch. 

Head to the hardware store and purchase a large square of drywall to overlap several inches with the hole. You will also need two small pieces of scrap wood just larger than the hole. Here's how to patch drywall with extra support:

  1. Double-check that there are no wires directly surrounding the hole. Hire a drywall contractor for assistance if needed.

  2. Place the square of new drywall over the hole and trace the square onto your wall.

  3. Use your drywall saw to remove the whole square from your wall so your new patch fits perfectly.

  4. Secure two pieces of scrap wood inside the wall behind the square, preferably on either side. Use two drywall screws per each side of the wood. These supports are known as furring strips.

  5. Place the new patch against the furring strips and in the square-cut hole.

  6. Screw the patch into the furring strips with drywall screws.

  7. Surround the edges of the patch with adhesive drywall tape or joint compound tape.

  8. Cover the whole patch in compound, focusing on the edges first. 

  9. Wait for the compound to dry, sand the area, and add primer and paint.  

How to Prevent Holes in Drywall

Accidents happen, especially around the soft drywall material. However, you can install a few small additions to your home to protect your walls. Here are some ideas for avoiding dings, scratches, and holes in your drywall.

  • Install corner wall guards in high-traffic rooms.

  • Install a doorknob bumper on the knob or the wall.

  • Add baseboard corner beads to protect trim around the floor and chair rail.

  • Adjust the hinges of your door or cabinet doors to keep them from hitting the drywall.

  • Consider low-sheen paint to cover imperfections in high-use rooms or durable acrylic to prevent scratches.

  • Cover all holes and dents with high-quality patches, spackle, or compound.

DIY Patching Drywall Holes vs. Hiring a Pro 

Learning to fix drywall holes under 6 inches is an easy DIY project that does not require breaking out the saw or the screw gun. If you're uncomfortable with either of these—or if the hole sits up against wiring and plumbing—we recommend calling your local drywall contractor.

If you decide to hire a professional, they typically charge around $60 per hour on average. Overall, the cost to hire a professional drywall contractor is between $300 and $1,100, depending on the extent of the damage and any additional labor requests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, patching a drywall hole is a relatively easy DIY if the hole is smaller than 6 inches. The options with minimal tools are spackle, joint compound, drywall patches, paper joint tape, and butterfly patches. You can also patch a large hole in drywall with a replacement patch, but you’ll need to be comfortable sawing around the hole and adding supportive wood brackets before proceeding.

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