Hole in wall repair made easy

Last Updated on February 3, 2022 by Dave Farquhar

When fixing up a house or changing things around, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to patch some holes in the wall. Small nail holes are easy to fill with a bit of spackle applied with your fingertip, but bigger holes can be tougher, unless you know a couple of tricks that make hole in wall repair easy.

hole in wall repair
Don’t try to fix a hole this size with spackle alone. You’ll need some kind of a backer, at the very least.

The main problem with bigger holes is the spackle not sticking and falling through the hole into the wall itself. The way you fix that is by putting something else in first to hold the spackle in place before it dries.

An easy way to fill a medium-sized hole is to just poke a cotton swab into it. Push the swab in, let the cotton tip fill up the hole, then apply spackle over it. The spackle will adhere nicely.

What if you intend to put a screw in the hole? That’s an easy fix, just different.

For holes larger than a cotton swab, foam backer rod is a lifesaver. It’s intended to be used to provide backup for caulk, but you can cut short lengths of it and push it into holes to help spackle stick just as well. And if you have a really large hole to fill, you can cut lengths of the backer rod and place enough of them in the hole horizontally to fill the hole, then spackle over it.

A cheaper solution that often works almost as well is aluminum foil. Crumple up a piece of foil to fit, push it into the hole, then spackle over it.

No matter what you use for backup, let the spackle dry, then sand it smooth. You may find it takes several repeat applications and sanding to match the texture of the surrounding wall, but the whole process will go much easier with backing than it will by trying to fill a hole with spackle alone.

What if you’re wanting to fill a too-big hole around an outlet? I do that a little differently.

Further reading

What about large holes? That’s harder, but you can fix them with a slick trick involving a scrap piece of drywall. To fill small holes in wood, here’s nifty trick with a toothpick.

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2 thoughts on “Hole in wall repair made easy

  • January 15, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    For large holes you can also clean up the hole, cut a piece of drywall to fit. To make it secure and even, use one or more pieces of lath or similar that are longer than the hole and use liquid nails or some such to glue them to the inside of the existing drywall and across the hole. Let set. Then glue the new piece to the lath. Use joint compound and joint tape to finish and blend into the surrounding wall.

    • January 15, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      Thanks, Paul. I forgot about the drywall trick–I’ve even cut the drywall oversize, then cut the core out, leaving paper “wings” on the four sides to help make the repair a bit easier to hide.

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