How to fix a hole in a plaster wall

November 15, 2019

It's all too easy to accidentally put a hole in a plaster wall, triple that if you have kids running around. We can often take for granted just how fragile plaster walls are until a bump with the sharp corner of furniture or a slight trip ending with a body part tunnelling through the smooth surface shows us just how big the damage can be from even the smallest bang.

Not only that but it looks unsightly. Your beautiful finish is instantly tarnished with a derelict appearance and, as horrible as it looks, getting around to repairing it can take weeks, or even months since in reality, other things on your to-do list have so much more importance. While it might seem daunting to patch a hole in the wall yourself, it is actually a task you might want to consider taking on. A big part about getting a wall repair right is adequate drying time, that means paying for a repair will either be rushed or require multiple visits after drying times have lapsed.

Part of the reason plaster walls can damage so easily is that their design and materials are quite simple, that makes patching them up an equally simple task, and because knocks and holes are so common, ready-made repair kits are easy and cheap to come by.

One of the most rewarding things about completing your own home repairs is that with a little care and attention to detail you are instantly rewarded with a fresh, bright new look and feel.

If you are renting then getting your home back into shape before you apply to get your bond back is essential.

Rules to follow

1. Use a drop sheet to gather any fine dust from sanding.
2. Clean up the area around the hole so the surface you are repairing is perfectly flat.
3. For large holes, you will need to remove any loose pieces that might have fallen behind or be hanging off the edges. Run your fingers around to be sure there are no hanging pieces you can't see.
4. If you are making your own filler from powder make sure the consistency of your filling agent is correct to save issues later. It should hold to the spatula without falling off.
5. Apply the filling compound in small amounts as smoothly as possible to prevent getting clumps that will crack when it dries.

Useful items

-Stanley knife
-Sandpaper (240grit)
-Spakfilla or similar filling compound
-Adhesive mesh patch

You can purchase a ready-made wall repair kits that contain many of these, including sandpaper and a sanding block. Some also come with plasterboards, joining tape and mixing buckets.

1. Small, simple holes like those from picture hooks, nails and screws

Tiny nail and screw holes are the easiest to fill and best done sooner rather than later.

All you need is some spackling or wall joint compound which you press firmly into the hole with a putty knife. Once the area is completely dry then sand it back lightly for a smooth finish.

2. Larger holes (fist size or smaller)

For medium-sized holes (where you can't do much about getting in behind them) follow these instructions.

Anything larger than a small hole will need to be strengthened before you apply any filling agent. This is because the filling agent will not be able to hold shape and have a smooth texture on its own.

Sand the edges smooth and clean the wall to remove dust. Apply an adhesive wall patch. It will need to be cut to fit well over the hole so be sure to leave enough overhang (about 2-3cm on each side). Smooth down the edges of the patch and make sure it has stuck completely.

Use the putty knife to apply a layer of patching compound and get it into the holes in the patch material as well as over the edges of the patch. Glide the spatula blade and compound over the patch in several different directions.

Once you are finished swipe smoothly downward to remove any excess filling agent and make the area smooth.

Allow it to dry. Some compounds take longer to dry than others, refer to the instructions or if in doubt, leave it to dry overnight.

Once dry, sand your surface back to a smooth finish and clean over with a damp cloth before applying the second layer of compound. Make the second layer slightly wider than the first so you cover the new edges well.

If you feel the area is not strong enough apply a few pieces of joining tape before applying the second coat.

Flatten the second layer with the blade of a paint scraper to get it perfectly flat. Repeat the dry, sand, clean process and you are ready to paint your new wall to match your existing interior.

3. Really big holes

For big holes, a layer of adhesive mesh alone is not going to do the job, you will need some proper reinforcement.  Drywall is the fastest, smoothest and most reliable option. Happily, it also means less area for you to sand and fill with compound because you just need to cover the tape.

For this you will need additional tools:

-Piece of wood (i.e 1x2)
-Piece of drywall the size of the hole (like a Gyprock Mini-Repair Panel)
-Gyprock knife or small saw
-Finishing tape
-Drywall screws

Ask your hardware sales rep about options for your wall type i.e. timber-frame, steel-frame, brick, weatherboard. They may recommend cornice cement or stud adhesive to use for the first coats to help strengthen the base and prevent cracking.

Start by carefully squaring up the hole with a saw or saw or knife. You will need to get your hands in behind the hole so a square shape will make it easier to work with and fill. Find a piece of wood long enough to span the hole by a couple of inches on each side and slip it into the hole. Use drywall screws to secure the wood strip on each side of the hole so the hole has solid backing. (As an alternative you can opt to use any drywall cut-offs from the next step (below) and secure them inside the hole with some filling compound. Leave to dry for a minimum of four hours)

Cut a piece of drywall to match the size of your hole so it fits in the space neatly. Fix this to the backboard with filling compound, allow to dry. Cover the edges with joining tape to help create a smooth surface. Cover the tape with filling agent or plaster and push to smooth over. When dry, sand back to remove any imperfections, wipe over with a damp cloth to remove any dust and apply your next coat of compound. Dry thoroughly, sand back and wipe clean again and allow it to dry at least 15 minutes before painting.


Who is Peta Stewart?

Award-winning conveyancer. Entrepreneur. Business mentor. Women’s cycling advocate. These are just some of the ways Peta Stewart is introduced. What ties them together is a steely determination to help people achieve their life goals and have fun in the process.

In 2004, Peta became the first licensed conveyancer in the Albury Wodonga greater region. Five years later, she launched her own business and started shaking up the industry with a good dose of personality, integrity and humanity.

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