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A 7 Step Guide to Repairing Small to Medium Sized Holes in Your Drywall

Estimated Reading Time: 7 min

Don’t sweat it if a wayward shoulder or an overzealous playdate knocks a hole in your drywall—repairing it is easier than you think.


Skill Level
Approximate Time 45-60 minutes
plus 24 hours drying time

Misplaced chairs, high velocity doorknobs, a spontaneous game of indoor football—each one of these activities can wreak havoc on your drywall with one wrong move, but we’re here to show you that patching up those holes and dents is easy. All you need are the right tools, a Drywall Patch Kit, and a free afternoon. This guide focuses on the drywall patch method, which is perfect for tackling holes up to six inches in diameter (for holes larger than six inches, try using the traditional support board method). By the time you finish your repairs, it will look as though your walls never had damage in the first place.

Here's what you'll need:

  • MARSHALLTOWN Drywall Patch
  • Joint Compound
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Ruler or Straight Edge
  • Stud Finder
  • Flexible Putty Knife
  • Serrated Utility Knife
  • Hand Sander
  • Vacuum
  • Sanding Sponge
For Your Safety
  • Dust Mask
  • Eye Protection

Step 1

Select the Appropriate Drywall Patch

Before you begin any repair work, it’s important to measure the hole you want to cover so you can pick up the right patch for the job—the patch should overlap an inch or two past the edge of the hole.

Most Drywall Patches come in either 4” x 4”, 6” x 6”, or 8” x 8”, so choose the size that works best to cover the hole.

There are 12” x 12” repair patches, but we recommend using the traditional support board method of repair for holes larger than six inches rather than using a patch. These large patches tend to bow over time since they don’t have enough support.

Step 2

Find Your Studs

Next, you’ll need to use a Stud Finder to find and mark the nearest studs on either side of the hole you plan to repair—you don’t want to accidentally cut into them or any electrical wiring that may be attached!

Step 3

Outline and Cut Around Damaged Area

After marking your studs, grab your straight edge and pencil and create a rectangular or circular outline around the hole, depending on your preference.

At this point, you may be asking yourself “Why do I need to cut around the hole? Can’t I just slap the patch over it and be done with it?”

Well, you could, but then you run the risk of having the frayed edges or protruding drywall pieces push against the joint compound as you work. This would create an uneven surface that will require more time and effort sanding down than if you cut around and removed those pieces from the start.

(This next bit gets dusty, so be sure to wear your dust mask and keep a vacuum handy.)

Carefully follow along your outline with a serrated blade to create crisp edges and vacuum up any drywall dust before moving on to the next step.

Step 4

Apply Drywall Patch

Remove the paper backing and place the drywall patch (sticky side down) over the hole. Run your fingers over the edges of the patch to ensure that it’s firmly adhered to the wall.

Apply Drywall Patch

Step 5

Spread and Smooth Joint Compound

Once your patch is in place, use a flexible (not stiff) putty knife. A flexible putty knife does a far better job at evenly pressing joint compound through the patch’s mesh for a longer-lasting, more durable repair job.

apply drywall compound with flexible putty knife

Spread the compound over the patch in a crisscross pattern to ensure a complete bond. Then “feather out” the edges so the compound blends in with the surrounding wall for a flat finish. It should look something like this when you’re finished.

Feather Out Edges

Step 6

Sand Down and Reapply Joint Compound

Allow the joint compound to completely dry before lightly sanding over any high spots with a dry sanding sponge or hand sander. You can then reapply joint compound as necessary.

Pro Tip

If you were too light-handed with your first layer of joint compound, no worries. Apply another layer and feather it out just as you did before, but this time extend the compound about an inch past the edge of the previous layer for a smoother, longer lasting patch job.

Step 7

Finish Your Repair with Paint

After waiting for your last layer of joint compound to completely dry, it’s finally time to finish your repair. If you have textured walls, move ahead to the next step where we’ll walk you through the finishing process for orange peel and knockdown texture.

Start off with one more round of light sanding using a damp—not soaking wet—sanding sponge.

Work the sponge in circular motions starting from the center and moving toward the outside edges until the patch is completely flush with the existing drywall.

Let the patch dry before applying paint primer. Then, you guessed it, let the primer dry before painting over your patch with a color that matches your existing walls (although this is a great chance to change up the color of your walls if you’re in the mood for something new). Once your final layer of paint is dry, you’re done!

Step 7.5

How to Finish Repairing Textured Walls

Orange Peel and Knockdown Texture Sponges

Before starting any texture work, wipe down your drywall patch with a damp rag to clean it of any leftover dust or debris.

As your patch dries, grab a bowl or a handheld paint pan and mix 4 parts joint compound to 1 part water until the mixture has the consistency of pancake batter. This is the best consistency for texture sponges to grip onto.

Pro Tip

It’s always easier to add more than take it away, so be sure to apply your texture in thin layers until you’ve achieved just the right amount of texture to meld seamlessly with the rest of your drywall.

1.     Orange Peel Texture

After your joint compound/water mixture is mixed thoroughly, pick up a small amount of thinned compound with your texture sponge and bounce it over the patch, starting in the center and moving outward.

As you bounce the sponge out over the feathered edges of your patch, be sure to go over the existing drywall as well. This will ensure that your patch job is practically invisible when your texture dries down.

Repeat this motion until you’re satisfied with your texture work; but if you mess up, don’t worry. Just wipe off the wet compound with a clean putty knife and try again!

Finally, once your patch is completely dry, prime and paint to match your existing wall color.

2.     Knockdown Texture

For those of you with knockdown texture, the process requires a tad bit more trial and error to achieve the desired effect.

What makes knockdown texture distinct from orange peel texture is the voids and peaks the sponge leaves behind that you then gently “knockdown” with a Taping Knife or a wide putty knife. Those voids and peaks are crucial, and they can be a bit of a pain to achieve. But if you maintain a gentle touch and work in sections, you can achieve a professional looking knockdown texture on your own.

Using a knockdown texture sponge, pick up a small amount compound and bounce it over your patch. Make sure to leave plenty of flat spaces between those clumps of compound.

Once your patch is covered, wait 10 to 15 minutes until the compound is “skim”-ready (semi-dried), then grab your taping knife or wide putty knife. Hold your knife almost parallel to the wall and gently drag it down over the semi-dry compound to flatten the peaks into the voids your sponge left behind.

Skim Knockdown Texture

Pro Tip

Work in sections, and always clean your blade of compound after each pass over your texture.

If you aren’t satisfied with your end results, just wait for the texture to dry completely before sanding it down and trying again.

Otherwise, wait for the texture to dry, prime, and paint to match the surrounding drywall.


Want to avoid the confusing big box stores? Use our convenient bundle button to add all the tools you need to complete this repair to your cart and have it shipped right to your door.

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