Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Easily Patch Holes in Drywall

I almost titled this post, "The most boring post ever in the history of mankind," or, "Read this to your kids to help them fall asleep tonight." Or, "Warning: Drowsiness may occur as a result of reading this post."

But instead, I came up with "Got Holes?" Works, eh?

So if the builder in your house was towel rod happy like ours was, you've probably got lots of these:How to patch drywall holes easily
I mean, they were giddy with these things. We had a loooong one in our powder room -- for bath towels. And there's no bath in there. Or shower. Giddy.
First off, if there are anchors in the wall (and builders are anchor-happy too), it's pretty easy to get them out. Take a pair of needle-nosed pliers and get in there and grab the anchor:
Fixing anchor holes in wallPull it and it should come out fairly easily. If it won't, try pounding it back into the wall and through. Either way you'll be left with a massive hole. It will be way bigger than the anchor seemed to be, but just relax peeps! I got your back!
Next is my little trick I learned awhile back. If you go to fill the hole as is, it will take a ton of spackle to fill it in. Instead, before you fill, take some thick paper -- I've used grocery bags and lately these little annoying-as-crap mailers that come out of the magazines:

Fill holes in wall with paperTear off little pieces and stuff them into the holes:
How to patch anchor holes in wallThis gives the spackle something to lay on and grab ahold of. (By the way, the fun little ring around the holes happens when you have zero patience after painting a wall and are dying to get the rods back up. Yeah. Don't do that.)

Then take your favorite spackle that you mostly use for these (textured stencils) and not what it's intended for:
spackle for fixing drywall holes And frost the holes with it. It's fun. I use a putty knife:
drywall fixesKeep frosting till you've covered the holes, using the scraper to take off the excess and then reapplying a few times. I like to leave a little smudge of extra on top so the holes are covered really well:
Filling drywall holesAfter it's dry sand it down a bit and reapply if needed. Wipe down after sanding well, wiping off all excess spackle you can. Then find your paint, freak out when all you have is the eggshell finish and not the semi gloss finish you need, say what the heck, no one will ever notice, and use a small foam brush to paint over the spots.

I have to tell you -- be very selective where you put anchors in your walls. Generally you will ALWAYS see where they were, no matter how well you patch them up. Anchors tend to pull the drywall up around them a bit, so the drywall is never quite flat. But I promise unless you are really looking, you will never notice them again:
See?? Told ya! If you are patching small nail holes, just use your finger and put a little smudge in the hole. Just a little dab. Just a smooch. Like you're kissin' your sister. (Name that movie!!)

It may just be because I'm the freak I am, but even the smallest changes make a huge difference to me. Before, the towel rod was the first thing you saw in our bathroom:

Now, it's my pretty little bench and my enormous shower curtain:
DIY shower curtain And the iron scrolly jobby isn't hanging at giant eye level anymore, it's at human eye level. All is right with the world. I filled about 14 holes yesterday, and it only took an hour, total, to do it all.

Easy peasy Squeezy! Any other good patchin' tips? Share them in the comments!

Affiliate links included for your convenience! 

64 comments:

  1. Okay..I have a good way to patch a hole..cover it with a painting?? Yes, I do things the lazy man's way!! Once again...yawn...great post!! :)

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  2. Dearest Godsend,

    THANK YOU!!!!! I am hole-ier that all get out and I soooooo needed that tip!
    Awesome!
    Thx!!

    m ^..^

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  4. I hate not having spell check--I meant to say that I have not tried DIY magazine before. I need to head to Border's to find it. But right now, I need to head to bed. :)

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  5. Great post to go to sleep on. Laughing my head off right now. I knew all the tips since I use to work with my dad ( a general contractor), but I think your how to instructions were much cooler than I ever got :o)

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  6. That's great! Never thought of those annoying pieces of papers... now this is funny, my mom use to spakle the "holie" walls with white soap bars. She couldn't help! Poor mother!

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  7. I fill my nail holes with Colgate toothpaste and it works like a charm!
    Traci

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  8. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...... {just jokin'!}

    I totally love the way you write! Some day (when I wake up) I will work on writing like you.

    Now -- off to sleep.

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  9. Got any tips for filling holes in popcorn ceilings?? Some crazy person got hook happy in our ceilings. I am not sure what is worse, all of those crazy hooks in random places or little black holes every where!

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  10. Wow, that's brilliant!!

    As far as towel rods, we have the opposite problem...not enough! We need to deal with that situation, but I'm waiting until I tackle decorating the bathroom.

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  11. I wish more people knew your tips! We've moved into homes where the previous owners have done the WORST hole-filling jobs ever. A light bulb went on when I saw how you moved your towel bar somewhere else. Duh. Why haven't I thought to move ours, since I don't like where it is???

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  12. I love it when you call me Squeezy! LOL Spackle is the easiest stuff in the world to use. I buy the kind that goes on PINK (b/c it's my fav color) and turns white when it's dry. So you don't screw up and sand/paint over it too soon. Ask me how I know this....Ugh.

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  13. Great tips! Looks fantastic! But where do you hang the towels now? Or are they not needed in there?

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  14. This was timely for me! I've been glaring at those very holes in my bathroom for about 3 months, unsure of how to proceed.... holes, beware!

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  15. I love the idea of stuffing the hole before patching it. Thank you!

    The Kissin' Yer Sister quote sounds familiar but I can't place it. It sure sounds like something a Vince Vaughn Character would say...

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  16. DOH!! I was just looking at some retro towel-hooks-on-a-plaque at TJ Maxx today, and couldn't figure out what I'd do with them... Now I know! I'm ripping that "vintage" (i.e. crappy and old) towel bar off the wall in the guest bath!! THANKS!

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  17. Too strange. I used spackle for the first time last night in years. I dropped a cup in the kitchen and it hit the wall and made a massive ding I had to patch. ~Funny that you posted this tonight...:) ~Great info!

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  18. I love my lightweight spackle! I carry it around like some women carry a lipstick. Do I need to mention I have many boys?

    And hey--Madagascar II is one of our favorite movies. Got to love those penguins! "Two passengers unaccounted for, sir" "Now that's a number I can live with!"

    Love your blog.

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  19. you are so funny, and really good at patching holes in dry wall! I will have to try my hand at this (I have been waiting very patiently for hubby to patch a few spots upstairs with my girls having all traded rooms) thanks for your step by step guide with pictures!!!

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  20. Great Post;

    The movie is Madagascar 2. I love that part. My husband put a ball in my garage ceiling so I could park without hitting the wall. And he said "just barely touch it and stop" So everyday when I park I say to myself "Just barely kiss it, like you're kissing your sister."

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  21. Oh man, I wish I would have known about the paper before I filled my towel rack holes the other day!

    Here is my tip: If for some reason you cannot find your spackling tool because say, the 5 year old has carted it off to the sandbox, a credit card will work in a pinch. :)

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  22. great tips thanks. i hate those holes. im sure as heck gonna remember this one.
    blessings,
    aimee

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  23. Your blog makes me happy.
    You make me want to sand something.
    I can't wait to get back to the states where they have yard sales!!

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  24. Name that movie = Madagascar II. Or as my nephew calls it "Mood it mood it 2" [think two year old trying to sing "I like to move it move it"].
    Mood it Mood it 2 is wayyy better than Mood it Mood it 1.

    basset hound.

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  25. Thank you for the tip! I am replacing three *retro* towel bars in my guest bathroom with one oil rubbed bronzed beauty. This will make the task...easy peasy squeezy! Thanks a bunch!

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  26. I love, love, love this tip for patching a large hole using a piece of drywall. Check it out: (I hope the link works. It's from DIY's Bathroom Renovations with Amy Matthews.)

    http://www.diynetwork.com/videos/ceiling-holes/18888.html

    Love your blog, Sarah!

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  27. Thanks for posting! I wished I'd seen this several months ago when we were redoing my daughter's bedroom....had some wall anchors and HOLES. I hadn't thought of stuffing them with stiff paper. I just spackled the heck out of them! Naturally you can tell but it's still better than a gaping hole. LOL!

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  28. I'm so glad you posted this! Our towel rack in the master bath is falling down and I keep telling my husband. Now, I can do it and stop waiting for him!

    Thanks!! :)

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  29. You do have to wonder what they are thinking when they put a towel rack in a half bath. Love your "after" picture and your shower curtain (what a great idea to use terry cloth).

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  30. That's a great tip to stuff the hole! Those anchors always leave such a huge deep hole!

    Manuela

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  31. OK, now I know what to do with those annoying cards in my magazines! :)

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  32. Squeezy says Thank you Thank you! I have three giant holes in my laundry room where the builder put up a wire shelf, and I took it down. Now that I know it will be easy, I am going to do it!

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  33. Love the tip about stuffing the hole with some paper. Definitely will put that to use.

    One thing to add though, I think it is VERY IMPORTANT to paint over the spackle with some primer before you paint with color. Otherwise you'll end up with "flashing" spots - those painted over spackle spots that look different, duller, than the rest of the wall. The spackle absorbs more paint and doesn't end up having the same surface look, the same reflection, as regular wall. I think it's a VERY noticeable difference if you prime that spackle first, and then those patched spots will TRULLY DISAPPEAR.

    ... my 2 cents...

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  34. Gwen, they make a tube of stuff just for re-texturing/repairing popcorn ceilings. If the hole is small just fill it with some toothpaste (or spackle if it's larger), let dry and you dab on the texture from the tube. Very easy to do! We got some at Home Depot, but Lowe's should carry it too. Look in the paint section or ask about it.

    Love the idea of stuffing the hole first. This is something I always forget! When we move from our rental we'll have a LOT of holes to fill so hopefully I can remember this great tip for making it go faster.

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  35. Ok - love the paper idea. I hadn't ever thought of that and I was actually just about to patch a few anchor sized holes in my ceiling (long story). Thanks for the tip!

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  36. Great tip for filling the holes first with cardboard. And great tip from Tamara above about priming the sanded spackle before painting!

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  37. Got any tips for how this might work with plaster walls? We have a ton of holes left from the previous folks that I want to fill and I'm just about ready to say the heck with it and live with it. Problem is, I hate the holes! So, give me some tips on plaster. Please!

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  38. Ahhhh genius! Filling the hole with paper first! Yes! I have a few anchor holes I need to fill. Thanks for posting this!

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  39. Thanks for the tutorial on yanking out the anchors. I had no idea how to get the eyesore out of my wall so I could paint.

    Those annoying magazine inserts HAVE to go before I can read a magazine. My family thinks I am nuts! Now I have a purpose for them, to fill the empty anchor holes.:)

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  40. GREAT idea to stuff something in the hole! GENIUS! :) Our builder (also rod happy) caulked ours to the wall... which had caused a whole set of problems along with wall anchors from other stuff. ANNOYING! Your bathrooms looks great! :)

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  41. GREAT idea to stuff something in the hole! GENIUS! :) Our builder (also rod happy) caulked ours to the wall... which had caused a whole set of problems along with wall anchors from other stuff. ANNOYING! Your bathrooms looks great! :)

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  42. if you don't have spackle, use white toothpaste on the little nail holes

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  43. Or, you can be a lazy slacker, like me, and have a townhouse full of holes. Holes with the BRIGHT RED ANCHORS still in them. Sigh.
    Yeah, the girl who lived here before me was window-treatment happy. So I have a plethora of holes all around every window.

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  44. Another tip: My friend, a paint contractor, got me to start using joint compound instead of Spackle. You can always see a spot that has been spackled but joint compound disappears leaving nary a trace.

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  45. I feel like I need to bow down to your awesome diy self. I have about about 19 of those stupid anchor holes in my living room. No joke. I merely painted over them bc I had no idea how to get rid of them. Now I do! I'm soooo doing this. And rather than your post putting me to sleep, it shot me up out of my seat shouting "Eureka! I can do this!" Thanks Thrifty Decor Chick!!!

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  46. AHA! Now I have a plan (and the cofidence) to tackle the huge towl rod in our 1/2 bath. We never even use the sink in there. Basically, it's purpose is just to give me a space to paint with the dark charcoal color I loved that John was afraid of. ;)

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  47. I remember my dad used to use newspaper.

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  48. When we change out thermostats at work,we tape a paper lunch bag under the work area (use the blue low tack tape.) This helps to catch the the messes.
    Clean up is so much easier after the sanding is done.

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  49. betcha you didn't think you'd get this many comments on such a 'boring' post, did ya?! Thanks for the tip. I have been avoiding two of those nasty things for like a month now but I think I'm gonna tackle that eyesore tomorrow thanks to you!!

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  50. Thank you for the tip - and your bathroom looks beautiful!

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  51. In our downstairs half bath, no tub or shower we have a rod big enough for two towels. Not only is the towel bar there, but they put the bar on a pice of wood that they glued/anchored to the wall. The worst part is that its not even center the wall. Oh, did I mention that all the bathrooms have the added wood. I wish they had just used anchors. I want to pry them off somehow, but am scared to mess up the walls.

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  52. This is pretty much the greatest post ever... I'm re-plastering my kitchen this weekend.
    Ditto to the requests for info about patching popcorn ceilings and plastered walls. Can I also ask for help when plastering TEXTURED walls? (Like the really nice, professional looking texture that I couldn't possibly duplicate...)

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  53. Couple tips I got from a friend that does dry wall for a living.

    After you remove the nail/anchor whatever, take the handle end of a hammer (not the business end) and gently use it to pound it into the little bump of dry wall that gets pushed out from said nail/anchor etc. He said the end is just the right shape to make a slight dent inward so you don't notice that it's been filled. I've done it that way many times and it works!

    The next one was to sand with a wet sponge when your spackle is dry. Slighty wet, not drippy, the bigger the better. Use light pressure and actually "sand" over a fairly good sized area, helps it blend in better at the edges. You do, however, have to let this dry before you prime and paint.

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  54. You are too funnt. I like using my spakle for other projects as well.


    I am starting a NEW Mr. Linky party. It will begin on Aug 10th so everyone will have a week and a half to think about their first post. I have a poll up for votes on which button should be the new button. The "party" is called The Knock Off Knock Out-where THRIFTY meets creative sensation. Go over and learn more about the new weekly event and I would appreciate if you would cast your vote and HELP pick the new button design and its the last week for the July GIVE-A-Way, if you would like to be a part of that event..
    Cheri

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  55. Great post!!! I starred it in my reader so I can refer back to it. I have several holes that I need to patch since I hung two curtain rods too low. Thanks for the tip!!!

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  56. I'll be using this in the paneling we have in our house...I hope it works on that as well! :)

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  57. Great tutorial. I HATE patching walls. You made it looks so simple:)

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  58. That was entertaing AND informative. Thank you and I much prefer your towel bar gone.

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  59. That is sooo crazy that you posted this. Just a few weeks back I learned that trick from my father in law. He was patching the holes at the old house from where had our heavy Pottery Barn Iron thingys hanging and he asked for a paper towel. I had no idea what for. He just stuffed the holes and you would never know we even had anything hanging there.

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  60. Nice little trick filling in the large holes. I'm in a rental right now, & when I eventually move out, I'll keep this post in mind - I'm afraid I'll my work cut out for me :)

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  61. Instead of digging the anchor out just knock the outside edge off. (That way the hole is WAY smaller) Lay your putty knife flat on the wall below the anchor and quickly slide it up the wall. The anchor edge will slice off and you can push it into the wall, or leave it. Either way you are good to continue patching with your spackle. One more tip, spackle accepts paint differently than existing paint, so be sure to prime the newly spackeled area bfore painting. If you skip this step the paint will never look right no matter how much you paint over it until you apply the primer!!!

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  62. I got sick and tired of dealing with the anchors and trying to get them out. Then, one day it occurred to me: YOU DON'T NEED TO REMOVE THEM! Total epiphany! I use a razor blade and just shear the darn things right off. Yeah! They're plastic, so they cut super-easy, and you're not left with chunks of wall missing. Then, spackle as usual. I've been much calmer since figuring that one out. :)

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