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Question DetailsAsked on 8/23/2015

I have questions about patching plaster walls and ceiling after electricians installed recessed lights and outlet.

We recently had recessed lights and an outlet installed by an electrician. When they did the install they broke away a portion of the ceiling and walls to run the bx cable. I want to hopefully cut costs on repairing and painting my ceiling and walls, so I would like some advice on patching some of the larger holes. The holes don't have space to screw wood behind to affix new Sheetrock Because of some sort of concrete blocks in the way. Please help with the best way to patch or fill the holes.

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Voted Best Answer

a number of solutions, in no particular order - some may work better than others for different holes:

1) if any space behind drywall at all, cut strips of 1/4" plywood or even 1/8" hardboard to slip in behind the hole - two pieces per hole, each significatnly longer than the hole (to allow for screws) and more than 1/2 the height of the hole, that you slip in one at a time then line up under the hole, screwing into them from the front of the wall with short drywall screws to hold in place as backing for the patching compound or edge-mudded drywall patch piece.

2) cut back drywall to the next stud on each side and put in larger repair pieces - preferably with new blocking top and bottom as well overlapping the edges of the hole. Because of difficulty of putting in 2x4 like this, easiest to use 1x4 pieces, then either dywall screw through the old and new drywall to holdl them in place, or for more strength you can also slip in pieces of 2x2 blocking say 4-6 inches long behind the 1x and screw to the studs on each side. If using blocking pilot hole it so it does not split when screws go into it - or use construction adhesive to adhere to sutd and 1x4. Because of the ease of breaking the edge of the drywall with small repair pieces, I prefer to put in a trimmer piece of 2x2 (if exterior insulated wall or any utilities in the way) or 2x4 after the cutout is done/cleaned up, to widen the 2x4 to a 4x4, cut back the drywall just to the opening-side of the 2x4, put in thestud trimmer, then put in patch piece of drywall and mud and tape as usual. Trimmer is only a bit more than height of repair hole, not full 7 or 8 feet.

3) for smaller holes (though takes several mudding passes due to shrinkage dimpling and cracking of the mud) use duct tape as a backer for the hole (adhered to back side of drywall, pressed out with finger tips on back of drywall, and gently mud against that in several passes after each pass hardens. Using real plaster rather than drywall compound makes the pathc much stronger too.

4) cut insert drywall piece to fit, then screw through a piece or two (depending on patch piece size) of 1x2 or 1x4 or plywood or such into the FRONT of it, mud up the edge of existing drywall hole, then put the patch piece in place using the 1x4 as a handle, and once fitted into the hole run a couple of drywall screws through the 1x into the surrounding drywall to hold in place till dry - same as usual backer board but on face of wall instead of behind. If you are worried about the mud sticking to the wood put a piece of baking parchment paper (NOT waxed paper or saran wrap) between them. Then when set remove drywall screws and parchment paper and finish mudding the missed parts of the patch joint.

5) at the cutouts, bevel the edges of hole and patch piece so the cutout in the existing drywall is larger in dimension at the wall surface then at the back face, trim patch piece the same but very slightly smaller to allow for the drywall compound, then press in place after mudding the edge of the existing hole. To hold in place so is flush with surrounding drywallwhen cured, you still need to use a couple of wood strips across the front like in 4 above, one across each side or top and bottom to hold it flush while drying.

6) if space behind wall is uniform thickness, infill with proper thickness of rigid styrofoam insulation as backing, filled out with spacers of cardboard or thin plywood or such to get exact thickness even with back of drywall if necessary. When you slap the patch piece of drywall in, if certain it will never need to come out (unless all drywall is being removed) you can use construction adhesive to hold the new edge-mudded drywall patch piece in place till dry. This is a bit more work than #4 or #5, so I would only do this if the repair location is likely to be subjected to significant loads in the future. I have also seen drywallers use spray foam insulation in a can to do this, having the patch piece ready to go in advance, pressing it into the still-soft foam to hold it in place. Again, like in #5, you need 1x4 or plywood over the patch so you can hold it flush in place till the foam sets - but avoid having to screw the wood to the patch piece because the foam sets up in a minute or so. Messy if you get out of control with the foam, though.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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