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Drywall Patching Techniques

There are three main techniques for patching of drywall with each offering its own advantages. The size of the patch dictates the method. But much depends on what you are comfortable with doing. If a ceiling repair there is a different technique.

Patch Kits - available at many of the home centers, are basically a rigid sticky mesh. Simply apply the mesh and joint compound, let dry and sand off. These are best applied on small holes, and indentations like from moving furniture, flying debris and stopless door knob handles. This method offers limited success in offering an undetectable finish patch and is most often a choice of the novice. It is intended for the horizontal wall surface.

Pre-mixed patches - many patches in small quantities bought at hardware stores and home centers result in a gummy dried finish and are promoted as 'all purpose'. Stick with a known brand, one that offers flow and little settle-back/slumping characteristics. 'Easy sand' is important. But how sandable is the compound is always the question. The more sandable products are usually found in greater quantities. Also, for patches occurring every now-and-then, a small disposable cup will suffice as a simple mud mixing container, and will eliminate much of cleanup.

Pull Back Technique - to be applied on wall surfaces only, it requires a higher level of skill. First, perform the cutout and have 4 strips of tape at the ready; the strips should be long enough to wrap the backside of the cutout, layered in compound, and extend at least 2" total (from by each side). Mix the mud to right consistency, giving it a moment of pause, which will allow it to settle, then soon re-mix soon. This will help ensure a smoother consistency.

With your compound, back-butter the replacement sheet with a taping knife. Make note that the compound should be a consistency to fill through the tape mesh without an excess amount of sagging.

Proceed, by putting the fiberglass strips in parallel on the backside of the cut over the mud, each pair generally centered. The tape pairs should cross at at right angle. Next, press the strips firmly in place to secure them.

Set the cutout in the opening - achieving a level with the wall that does not create a rise, but rather erroring on the side of a mere countersink, if any at all - in essence, making the planar adjustment before pressing the untouched mesh onto the outer wall. Which you can do either by pushing in on the wallboard or by pulling out on the tape strips to come up with the desired level.

Next, gently press the tape outward in the direction of the end-cuts for all strips. This should leave the board with the tape pairs exposed onto the wall forming a cross pattern. Now, tape the outer exposed seams, then apply compound while firming it up to move toward a finish coat.
Standard Technique - suited for small to medium size patching, this is the most common method in practice today. It consists of, attaching of the cutout patch to the cleared opening either by attaching to studs or by added backers (furring strips or 1x3's) or even metal clips. Understandably, the type of support chosen should become sturdier with an increase in patch size. Drywall repairs gives a stepped explanation for this method.

Butterfly Technique - is only for the experienced and is not recommended for the beginner drywaller. Although this method is recommended for the quick fix, it does not offer the quality of results of other techniques mentioned here.

The butterfly gets its name from the paper on the replacement cutout, left to form a lip extending by itself from the gypsum wallboard. This lip is placed onto the existing wall, with mud already having been applied on the perimeter of the wall - with the paper acting as a form of drywall tape. After placing the wallboard, it is likewise knived out smooth with another layer of compound overtop. Skimmed and then sanded as is typically done.

Patch location
If the damaged wallboard happens to be situated near or behind carpentry or casing the carpentry may need to be pulled.

Hot mud (15 or 20 minute dry time) and drying process
Many experienced mechanics set with speed dry as normal practice for patches of all sizes. But the beginner may wish to become more experienced and familiar with product specifications prior to applying. Also, some drywallers seem to be in the practice of leaving on their halogen lights directly near the patch to promote quicker drying. Generally this is not recommended due to the fact that halogen becomes very hot and creates a risk when unattended.

A word on taping
Become aware of knife direction and applied force as you work, since mesh can disentangle if pressed too repeatedly or with too much pressure. Paper can fold up on itself. Both materials will greatly affect the end finish and just take some practice.

Specifications/Costs :

Cost of Sheetrock
How much single sheets cost.

Sheet of Drywall Weight
Drywall weight by the sheet.

Drywall Cost Estimate
Costing drywall thru the project.

Quantities of Wallboard
Wallboard quantity weights.

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