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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

DIY Hacks -How to repair plasterboard walls

Updated: Feb 3

Gaps, cracks or holes in your internal walls? Don't panic; here are my tips for how to repair plasterboard.

how to repair a screw hole in drywall / plasterboard wall
Screw hole being repaired

I'm not going to pretend that 'how to repair plasterboard' is the most glamorous subject for a blog post, but if you, like me, have plasterboard (drywall) walls, knowing how to complete minor repairs is so useful that I'll bet you'll find this a more exciting read than first expected. Ok, maybe exciting is the wrong word, but if you are looking for simple repair tips for dents and holes in your drywall, stick around.

Bucket of smoothing wall filler used to repair holes in drywall

As there's quite a lot of info about how to repair plasterboard walls and the best plasterboard filler crammed into this post, I've tried to make it easier to navigate by working through specific examples which I've linked below. That way, if you are here for a particular reason, ie you want to know how to patch a large hole in your drywall, you don't have to wade through lots of irrelevant info about repairing wallpaper removal scrapes first. Don't forget to give me a follow on Instagram or Tiktok too.

Take me straight to...

Sanding hole repair in plasterboard wall

Reasons you might need to repair your plasterboard walls

Plasterboard is easily damaged, fact! But aside from accidental damage, there are lots of reasons you might need to patch a hole or fix a dent or crack.

How to repair minor plasterboard wall damage - Scrape marks left after wallpaper stripping on drywall

- Holes left from screws / drywall anchors

- Marks left after removing a shelf How to patch larger holes

- Wall light removal in drywall

- Electrical socket move in drywall

- Patching large screw holes in drywall

How to repair damage to plasterboard walls

I've trialled different methods of plasterboard wall repair and have found the following DIY strategies work best for me. I'm sharing my methods in case they are useful to anyone else and to hopefully help save you time and money (as I've made all the mistakes for you already!) but it's important that you find a system that works best for you and your home.

The best method depends on the size of the hole, crack or dent. Small holes in plasterboard can usually be patched with some filler whereas larger holes will require some structural support which can be another small piece of plasterboard, expanding foam or even some strong cardboard, anything that will neatly fill the hole and provide a base for the filler and drywall repair mesh to sit on.

I haven't used drywall primer in the examples below because I was not installing new drywall and I wasn't painting directly onto drywall; in both of these situations, you should use a primer first.

How to repair plasterboard walls

How to repair small screw holes in plasterboard

  1. Remove any items or objects from the wall so nothing protrudes out from the wall & make sure your wall is clean and dry.

  2. Sand over the area to ensure you have a flat surface.

  3. Push the edge of the hole inwards a little, if the layers of the plasterboard surface have created a raised edge (as can happen when something is pulled out of the wall). You can see how I’ve done this with the end of a wrench handle in the picture above. Not only does this help flatten the wall surface, but it also helps to fill the hole and gives you a base to put the filler.

  4. Using a palette knife or scraper, fill the hole with your chosen filler. It's best to do this with multiple thin layers rather than one thick, as this can cause the area with the hole to bubble.

  5. Allow each layer to dry fully before applying the next.

  6. Top Tip: At this point, many people will tell you to swipe over the hole with the palette knife/scraper in different directions with each layer rather than keep going over it the same way... But instead, I use my trusty (super flexible) squeegee or skimming spreader and sweep it over the area in a couple of directions and this creates a beautifully smooth surface which reduces the amount of sanding you have to do (a winner in my book!)

  7. Let the filler dry.

  8. Once completely dry, sand over the filler gently, ensuring any seams are removed and that the layer of filler is not a raised patch in relation to the wall surface. Top Tip: Sanding filler can be very dusty, so I attach the vacuum to the back of my sander to reduce the mess. If you don't have a sander that attaches to the vacuum then place a dustpan or vacuum nozzle against the wall, under the sander to catch the dust and think about wearing a dust mask.

  9. The wall is now ready to paint.

How to repair scrapes and scratches in plasterboard

We've all been there; you get a bit carried away with the wallpaper scraper and accidentally make a scratch or groove in the wall. Don't panic! It's a quick fix.

Follow steps 5-8 above.

If you have many scrapes in the same wall, use the squeegee in sweeping circular motions over the wall working on one area at a time.

Note: Don't sweep back over the partially-dried filler, as this will cause it to crumple up and ruin your smooth surface and you'll have to start again.

See the below pictures which show an area of wall being layered up with a few thin layers of smoothing wall filler to cover the imperfections. The lower part of the wall was being covered with bead board, a kind of tongue & groove wall panelling, (read the tutorial I wrote for that here) so didn't need smoothing. As you can see, the process above works even on large areas with minor damage and saves getting the wall professionally skimmed.

How to repair plasterboard walls after panelling removed

How to repair large holes in plasterboard walls

Larger holes need to have some additional structural support so you can't use filler alone. Below are three different examples of how I've done this around my home...

How to repair plasterboard walls after wall light removal

Important! The wall light was disconnected and removed by our electrician before I started the repair. I always leave electrics to the professionals.

There were actually four wall lights removed from our sitting room and each one had two screw holes and a large square hole from the cables. Hence, I took the opportunity to test different methods with regard to the drywall anchors / (or plasterboard Rawlplugs depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside!).

Hole in plasterboard after wall light removal. Drywall repair
Hole in plasterboard after wall light removal.

Drywall anchors…do you take them out or cut the ends off and leave them in the wall?

I know some people say you should leave them in the wall and just cut the protruding edge off, then hammer it in slightly so in the interests of experimentation (that Science degree is finally coming in useful!), I gave that a try on one of the wall lights. I usually pull the drywall anchors out before I start filling the hole. I have to be honest, this was a right old faff! Cutting the plastic edge off neatly while the plug was still in the wall was not easy and it all took a lot longer than just removing them. I've seen demos on the internet where they rest a large blade on the drywall anchor (just behind the protruding edge) and hammer the blade straight down, and that's all well and good if you happen to have a massive credit card size blade lying around...I didn't!

A flathead screwdriver being used to remove a drywall anchor.
Removing a drywall anchor with a flathead screwdriver

In summary, I’m going to stick with my tried and tested method of using a flathead screwdriver to remove the drywall anchor by twisting it anti-clockwise and pulling backwards at the same time and then going on to fill the hole.

Repairing the large cable hole

I used the same method for repairing each of the large central plasterboard holes and it went as follows;

  1. Cut a piece of plasterboard or similar* to fit the gap. I usually cut the exact size of the hole to start with and then trim the edges down a slither at a time until the patch fits the gap exactly. It needs to fit quite snuggly in the hole in order to provide support behind the mesh tape when the filler is layered over the top. *Top Tip: Here, I actually used the super thick and reinforced cardboard sheeting that comes with IKEA furniture. It's perfect because it has two thick outer sheets of cardboard with corrugated cardboard glued in between, so it provides tonnes of support but is free, sustainable and REALLY easy to cut.

  2. Place a piece of self-adhesive plasterboard repair mesh tape over the hole, ensuring that all four edges are covered. If the home is too large for a single piece to cover all the sides, use multiple pieces with as little overlap as possible.

  3. Apply a thin layer of smoothing filler to stick the mesh tape in place and leave it to dry.

  4. Apply additional thin layers of smoothing filler, allowing it to dry in between.

  5. Don’t apply the layers too thick, as this will mean extra sanding (& nobody wants that!)

  6. Top tip: Apply the layers in different directions each time in sweeping motions and use the magic (ok, it’s not magic, but it is brilliant!) squeegee to get the smoothest finish.

  7. Once the final layer has dried, you can smooth off any seams or imperfections. As before, use the Hoover attachment if you have one on your sander or alternatively, mask up and catch the falling dust with the Hoover nozzle under the sander/sandpaper.

  8. When you are happy with the smooth finish you have achieved, it’s time to paint.

Repairing plasterboard wall after wall light removal

How to repair plasterboard walls after plug sockets have been removed

This was a bit of a weird one! This collection of sockets and switches was located inside a large built-in cupboard in our bedroom. When we dismantled the cupboard, the sockets were left halfway up the wall and looked very odd so we arranged for our electrician to move them down to floor level, which left large holes which needed to be repaired. 

There was a thick piece of chipboard (which formed one end of the cupboard) between the wall and the sockets, hence why they protruded from the wall so much in the first pic.

Some people would've chosen to replace the drywall but due to budget constraints (& the fact that this wall area is normally behind a large freestanding mirror), I decided to repair the holes instead. The whole process was remarkably quick and simple to do and looking at the wall now, you'd never know those holes were ever there.

I could've cut the socket holes into neater squares and then filled them with multilayered solid cardboard (as before with the wall light holes above) or with small pieces of plasterboard, but this was a good opportunity to trial a different method and it turned out really well.

  1. Once the sockets have been removed safely by an electrician and there are no longer any cables in the wall spray expanding foam into the holes and leave to set.

  2. Once hardened, saw or cut the excess foam off.

  3. Apply self-adhesive drywall mesh tape to the edges of the socket holes.

  4. Using a palette knife or scraper, cover the mesh in a thin layer of smoothing filler and allow to dry.

  5. Using a squeegee tool, layer up thin filler applications over the whole area, allowing to dry thoroughly between layers.

  6. Once the final layer is dry, lightly sand to ensure a smooth and level surface.

  7. Top Tip: Sanding filler can be very dusty, so I attach the vacuum to the back of my sander to reduce the mess. If you don't have a sander that attaches to the vacuum, then place a dustpan or vacuum nozzle against the wall under the sander to catch the dust and think about wearing a dust mask.

  8. The wall is now ready to paint.

patching large holes in drywall

Patching large screw holes in drywall

I recently moved a shelf where the screws had made large holes and I couldn't, therefore, fill them but had to patch them as well. This was really quick and simple to do with a small piece of drywall mesh repair tape; see below pics of the process, which is the same as for repairing a small hole but with the addition of the piece of mesh repair tape.

Smoothing wall after repairing hole from large screw removal

Here are the links to the products I used (some are affiliate), but I always recommend choosing products that are best suited to your home.

Thanks for reading. I'd love to keep you up to date with future DIY, decorating, interior styling, and upcycling projects, if you would like to receive my (not more than weekly & no spamming I promise) emails then please subscribe (scroll down to the box at the bottom of the page).

Some recent posts you might be interested in...

How to dispose of plasterboard - if your plasterboard is beyond repair!

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2 comentários

Ana Rq
Ana Rq
26 de jan. de 2023

Choosing a professional interior painting service for your home is a must! check out Buffalo New York Drywall Contractor Home to see the services they could offer you!


Gaddaan Urggootti
Gaddaan Urggootti
14 de mar. de 2022


Kitchen recommendations - click to shop 

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