Dang Dents! How to Fix Up a Dented Wall

Well, you didn’t mean to, but there it is: you put a big ole hole right in your pretty painted wall. Or maybe you just dinged it a bit with something, but whatever the case, it’s not a pretty sight, and all that’s running through your mind right at that moment is a nightmare image of your bank account draining as you pay someone to patch it up.


Hold off on that phone call to the local repair shop for a minute, though, because it might interest you to know that almost all mid to small sized holes and dents in drywall can be fixed with relative ease. All you need is a few tools, an idea of what kind of damage you’re dealing with, paint, and a little putty and (possibly) a few pieces of drywall.

Sizing up the Damage

Not every damaged bit of drywall is going to need an extensive repair operation- some might simply need to be puttied up. The amount of damage is going to determine what supplies you need and the steps in the repair process, so size up your dent or hole before you go the store. A good rule of thumb is that anything smaller than a half dollar will usually be fine with just putty or other drywall compound, while anything bigger is going to need a new piece of drywall to be plastered in.

Steps for Repairing Dents and Small Holes

  • Get your supplies. You’ll need a putty knife, putty or drywall compound, primer, 120 grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge, the color paint of the rest of the wall and the same kind of brush used to paint it originally.
  • Clean the affected area. Remove any loose paint and drywall bits and clean the dent and the area around with a mild soap and water mixture. Let this dry.
  • Sand the dent and the area around lightly. This allows the compound to adhere better.
  • Paint the primer over the dent. This seals the area from water, which will make the compound or putty set much better. Let this dry as well.
  • Spread the putty or compound into and around the dent with the putty knife, filling it until the edge is even with the rest of the wall. Feather the compound out from the dent with the knife to help mask the repair. Again, let this dry.
  • Sand the dried compound or putty with the paper or sponge until it’s smooth. You may want to wear a protective mask for this one, in order to avoid inhaling powdered compound.
  • Paint over the area with the original color and brush, feathering the paint and replicating the texture of the wall as best as you can. Let this dry, and you’re done!


Steps for Repairing Larger Holes

  • Get those supplies. For larger holes, you’ll need a drywall patch or a piece of drywall (depending on how big the hole is) that’s slightly larger than your hole. You’ll also need drywall compound or putty, a putty knife, a drywall saw or utility knife, 120 grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge, the color paint of the rest of the wall and the same kind of brush used to paint it originally, and drywall screws and a 1×3 piece of wood longer than the size of the hole if it’s a hole without a stud (piece of wood) behind it. If there’s fiberglass insulation in the wall, you’ll also want protective gloves.
  • Remove any loose paint and drywall, and take the pieces of drywall that are inside the hole out of it. You’ll be replacing these, so don’t worry about removing them.
  • Cut around the damaged area in a square or rectangle. Cut just outside the hole, but make sure that it’s as close to a straight rectangle as possible.
  • Sand the edges of the new, larger hole and the area around them to ensure a good bond with the drywall.
  • Cut a piece of your store-bought drywall to fit just inside the hole, if you don’t have a patch.
  • If there’s no stud behind the hole, place your 1×3 board inside the hole so that either end is behind the drywall on opposite sides of the hole. Screw the board to the drywall with the drywall screws, making sure you screw the heads a little deeper than the drywall.
  • Place the piece of drywall you cut into the hole, or adhere the patch to the hole according to the instructions on the package.
  • Apply the drywall compound or putty into the gaps between the piece of drywall and the rest of the wall with the putty knife, if you didn’t use a patch.
  • Apply the compound or putty in a smooth, even layer over the patch or piece of drywall (as well as the screw holes, if you added the 1×3 board), feathering it out onto the rest of the wall. Let this dry.
  • Apply another coat if necessary. Apply in multiple coats until the patched area is as close to even with the rest of the wall, letting the compound dry between each coat.
  • Sand the area lightly with your paper or sponge, wearing a mask if necessary.
  • Paint over the patched area with the original color paint and the original style of paintbrush, attempting to replicate the look of the rest of the wall. Let this dry.

The final step for both processes is, of course, to grab a cold drink, step back and take an appreciative look at your fine handiwork. Your first time might be a little visible still, but don’t fret. With the above steps and practice, you should soon be able to patch so well you’d need an x-ray machine to tell there was any repair work done. Now, you can go back to enjoying your lovely home and forget all about that annoying little hole that once drove you so crazy.


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