How To Patch Holes In Wallboard

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A do-it-yourselfer can find it necessary to cut a hole in wallboard to facilitate the installation home improvement item — a recessed toilet-paper holder, for instance. Obviously, such holes are necessary to the task and voluntarily created. On the other hand, a frustrated adult or an overzealous youngster — swinging a door open a bit too hard — may create unwanted and unplanned holes. These holes can’t be easily hidden by installing a mere toilet paper holder. Anyway, who wants a toilet paper holder mounted in their dining room entry?

To hide an unwanted hole, folks often resort to strategic placement of paintings, wall hangings or furniture. If that does the trick then more power to you. However, if your attempt to cover the damage with furnishings proves unsuccessful you may want to read on for an easy solution.

An old time drywall contractor who works for our remodeling company taught us a very simple method of making a wallboard patch:

1. First, you’ll need to create a patch from a piece of wallboard. The patch material will have to be slightly larger than the hole to be repaired. Many hardware stores or home improvement centers will sell partial sheets of 1/2” wallboard, which is ideal.

2. Start by cutting a patch (any shape), which is slightly larger than the area to be repaired. The patch does not need to be neatly cut — any shape will do. Place the patch-size piece of sheetrock centered directly over the hole, and using the patch as a stencil, draw a pencil line on the wall around the entire perimeter of the patch.

3. Next, using a wallboard saw, cut along the line on the wall and remove the damaged wallboard surrounding the hole. Note that the hole in the wall now exactly matches the patch that you made in step two.

4. Then, cut two pieces of wallboard joint tape each approximately seven or eight inches longer than the length of the patch. Apply a thin layer of joint compound to both sides of both pieces of joint tape.

5. Place the joint tape in a criss-cross fashion centered on the back of the patch.

6. Gently place the patch into the cutout in the wall and stick the four pieces of excess joint tape to the wall surface surrounding the cutout.

7. Trowel the joint tape to smooth it and then wait for it to dry. This completes step one.

8. Step two, three and four are to apply additional coats of joint compound over the patched area. An additional two inches of area should be covered with each coat of joint compound to ensure a smooth transition between the existing wall and the patched area.

If the wall has a textured finish, yet another step will be required. We have found that the simplest way to match most modern wall textures is with a disposable touch-up gun or with texture in a can. Both devices come with an adjustable nozzle allowing you to match several different finish textures. Other texturing methods include using a small piece of shag carpeting, a sponge, and other assorted utensils. In order to achieve the desired finish, we suggest that you practice applying texture to a scrap piece of drywall before making the actual application.

And that’s all there is to it! For more home improvement tips and information visit our web site at www.onthehouse.com or call our listener hot line 24/7 at 1-800-737-2474 (ext 59).

Question/Answer

Gap Problems

Question: I have a problem in my house where the drywall separates from the ceiling and opens up a gap of 1/4-inch in the winter. In early spring the gap closes completely and stays that way until late fall. The drywall tape comes loose from the wall and the gap is most significant on the walls towards the interior of the home. There is negligible or no separation of the tape along the walls around the perimeter. Also, the problem is severe on the second floor while it is non-existent on the first floor. At first I thought it had something to do with settling as I had noticed considerable settling of the soil outside.

A specialist firm inspected my home and told me that the foundation slab in the basement was in perfect condition and settlement was not a factor. I have had many contractors come to look at the problem and received two standard responses. One is that the workmanship of the original builder was poor and poor quality tape was used. The other answer I get is that this is related to humidity. During the winter the air inside the house is dry and it causes the wood in the joists to buckle. But most of them are perplexed that this happens only upstairs and not downstairs. They also seem surprised that the gap is as wide as ?-inch. Do you know what is going on? More importantly, do you know how I can fix it?

Chet

Answer: What you describe is a “classic” case of seasonal expansion and contraction. The problem stems from excessive dampness due to poor attic ventilation and/or a poorly insulated attic. The moisture content of the framing members (rafters and ceiling joist) in the attic (above the second floor) increases during the “damp” season and, thus, expand. This expansion causes the roof/ceiling framing to “pull away” from the wall framing resulting in the gap between your walls and ceilings. The problem will disappear when the weather warms and the framing dries out.

The reason that it is occurring on the second floor and not on the ground floor is the fact that the attic area is subject to moisture and condensation more readily than the area between floors. Moreover, the condition is manifesting itself at the interior walls rather than the perimeter for a couple of reasons; attic ventilation is usually most prevalent at the perimeter which would prevent condensation and, hence, expansion. Another possible reason is that interior walls are usually not insulated. The heat in your home is, therefore, allowed to escape through the walls into the cool attic. Consequently, condensation occurs at the ceiling joist causing them to expand.

You can solve the problem by taking the following steps:

Make sure that your attic is well ventilated. Add eave vents, gable venting, a ridge vent or turbine ventilator.

Be certain that household exhaust fans (range top, bathroom and laundry) DO NOT discharge into the attic.

Check to make sure that the attic is well insulated (R-38 minimum and more if you live in a cold climate).

Control air infiltration by installing gaskets at electrical outlets and switches.

Keep in mind that you will only “minimize” expansion by taking these steps. Some cracking at the wall to ceiling connection may continue to occur. You can further prevent cracking by making sure the ceiling joist are securely anchored to the top of the wall framing with nails, screws or L-brackets.

James and Morris Carey

Tip

A slick idea for mud

You’ve done some seams and patched some holes, now you’re ready to rock and roll. Today, you’ll learn the slickest trick of all for smoother mud on drywall. Drywall repair and finishing can be easily accomplished by anyone with average tool skills. In most cases, after a little practice with a small job or two, you’ll be ready to step up to a bigger project — like a ceiling or finishing the attic. When you do, here’s a slick idea that’ll have you styling. Just add 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap to a large 4-1/2 gallon pail of drywall compound, mix well and spread some on the wall. You’ll notice how easily it goes on and how smooth it is. And that’s the On The House tip.

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