Drywall Repair

Even though gypsum drywall, which has powdered rock as its main component, can be nearly indestructible in commercial applications, the 1/2-inch-thick panels nailed over studs in many houses can become torn, chipped, cracked, fractured or punctured. Here are some of the drywall repair techniques you can use to deal with problems ranging from small surface scrapes to large cave-ins.
Corner damage. On corners that protrude into a room you can patch small nicks with drywall compound. But for more protection, install a corner guard, an L-shaped metal strip with a narrow, neat corner edge that is nailed over drywall panels where they meet at a corner.
With a corner guard in place, spackling is simple because you can work on each side of the corner independently. Spread compound with a spackle knife supported on one side by the drywall and on the other by the metal corner. Joint compound will cover the perforated flange where nails attach the guard to the wall. Spackle over each side of the guard in at least two stages with light sanding in between as needed. The compound, or “mud,” should cover all of the metal guard except a narrow strip at the corner, which can be painted.
Surface paper tears. Once the surface paper on wallboard is torn you should remove it to make a permanent repair. If you try to spackle over the tear, dry spots underneath and frayed edges often cause the tear to work loose. Get better results by neatly trimming torn surface paper to a straight edge with a utility knife, then filling in the shallow exposed section with compound.
Small surface fractures. First determine whether minor damage is so widespread that patching would not be cost effective. Although there is no hard rule about when to re-cover and when to repair a room that is in really bad shape, bear in mind that re-covering an existing surface, even with 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch panels, is almost as much work as installing the first layer of wallboard.
Extensive repair work can be time consuming, but usually is preferable to resurfacing because small depressions are easy to fix. Simply apply successive coats of a spackling compound, allowing each coat to dry before re-coating. On deeper cracks and holes, fill the damaged area in stages to avoid cracking instead of applying one thick coat.
Large gouges and holes. Through-the-wall holes can be repaired three ways. On minor punctures, you might get away with stuffing chicken wire or screening into the wall cavity to provide support for layers of compound. This quick-and-dirty system is the least likely to last without cracking.
On larger holes, make a more durable drywall repair Austin by cutting out the damaged area and making a two-layer drywall patch. Start by cutting out a rectangle around the damaged area, then make a piece of drywall bigger than the cutout that will just barely fit through the rectangle when you insert it diagonally. Attach a string to a nail or dowel and slip it through a small hole in the backer panel so you don’t lose it in the wall cavity, then butter the edges that will overlap the hole on the inside with construction adhesive. Next, slip the backer into the hole, rotate it and pull on the string to cement the backer in place. After the cement dries, you can butter the edges of a second patch piece cut to fit exactly into your rectangle. It will be supported by the backer piece and its edges can be spackled and sanded flush with the wall surface.
To repair very large holes or fractures use the third repair method. Cut out a section of the drywall panel up to the center lines of wall studs – normally set 16 inches on center – on each side of the damaged area. Then a new piece of drywall can be nailed or screwed in place using the edges of the studs for support.
To make cuts in drywall, even a sharp drywall knife has to be drawn along the cut lines repeatedly before it slices through 1/2-inch gypsum panels. The blade is likely to bind and may require a lot of pressure, which can lead to accidents. The job is easier and safer if you cut a narrow V-shaped trench through the panel.
Chronic cracks. Many houses move enough seasonally to disrupt wallboard joints on a regular basis. There are two possible solutions to these chronic cracks. The most drastic is to bury them under molding, for example, by creating a lattice pattern on ceilings.
But if standard compound and paper tape drywall patching hasn’t held in the past, try to close the crack with a stronger patch before burying the problem. Scrape down the edges of the crack, fill it with compound and spread an embedding coat on the surface. Instead of using conventional paper tape, substitute fiberglass gauze that is used by roofers to close flashing seams against flat and low-slope roofs. The fiberglass has more holding power than paper and may keep the crack closed.

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