We really do live our lives in homes that surround us with sheetrock. All walls are covered with it unless it's an older home with a plaster wall treatment. For the most part, if you live in a home in any Western country then you’re surrounded by sheetrock.
Sheetrock is surprisingly vulnerable too. If your roof leaks for instance, it's the sheetrock on the ceiling that will suffer first. It doesn't take much of a leak either to do some pretty serious damage to it. A couple of roughhousing teenagers can also leave you with a sheetrock damage repair job on a bedroom or hallway wall.
There's no need to call a handyman or a contractor because the work that goes into sheetrock repair is quite basic. The materials are cheap too. So if you aren't into spending the money to pay someone to do it for you, and aren't above getting a little dirty in the process, you can do your own sheetrock repair and texturing.
Step #1 - Remove the Damaged Area
It's tempting to plaster over the damaged area. The problem there is that while plastering works well on small shallow dents, it won't work so well on large deeper indentations. This is because it cracks as it dries when it's thick, and it's hard to smooth down a broad surface perfectly flat.
Use a pencil and a straight edge to mark out a square or rectangle that encompasses the damaged area. Scribe down the center of the outer studs after they've been located, and then use a square or perhaps a book to mark out the top and bottom lines at 90° angles.
After that, the next step is to use a razor knife to work your way down the scribed lines in such a way that when you're done you can remove the damaged area sheet rock, and be left with a large square or rectangle void in your wall or ceiling. Then it's a simple matter of measuring out on a new piece of sheetrock according to your dimensions.
Cut your new piece of sheetrock with a razor knife. Simply run down the lines you marked on it, flip the piece over to bend and snap it clean on your lines. Use a razor knife to cut the inside paper lining on your lines to free it up completely. You might want to practice first on a scrap piece.
Step #2 - Now Attach Your Repair Piece
After you've banged in or pulled out any sheet rock nails that are left in your repair area, then you're free and clear to attach your new piece. Just make sure you've sanded the edges. Nailing sheet rock really does take quite a bit of practice to get it right, you're better off using screws so you don't end up bashing your new repair piece with your hammer.
Using a drill, drive your screws in about 8 inches apart on the edge and about 1 foot apart in the field, making sure that the heads are sunk below the surface but not so far that they go all the way through. What you want is a good bite without crunching up the area where the screw is grabbing on.
Step #3 - It's Time to Tape Your Repair Off
After your repair piece has been laid on and screwed off, then it's time to plaster and tape the edges and also smooth over the indentations where the screws in the field have been run in. For this you're going to need a tub of drywall joint compound and drywall tape.
Use paper tape or drywall webbing. Webbing comes in rolls just like paper tape and it goes on a similar fashion. It just costs a little bit more, and looks a little bit different, so it really is a matter of preference. Some people prefer webbing though, because it goes on dry, and then the joint compound is applied over it, so it's a little bit easier to use.
For corners however, where walls meet one another or where walls meet the ceiling, paper really works better on repairs because you can pull off strips, fold them neatly down the center and then tuck them deftly into the corner runs. It's a little bit harder to do this with webbing.
It's also easy to overestimate how much drywall joint compound you're going to need. If you're going to just be repairing a small area, then perhaps a small one quart tub will do. If you're going to be involved with a larger area though, that involves a few or more 4x8 foot pieces of sheetrock, then in this case you may want to buy a full box.
Use a small plastic spatula to dab in and spear smooth over the screw heads in the field, leaving a small bump of mud above the surface of each screw head. The reason is that once the joint compound dries you'll be able to send it down flush. Lay it on flush and when it dries you'll be left with a small dent.
What you'll find works best when it comes the time to paper or tape the edges is to apply joint compound with your hand instead of the spatula. Reach in and grab a small handful then smear it down the joint, making sure that you don't put it on too thick. Less is better here because it's going to be sanded down.
If you're taping with paper, first smear on a very thin coat with your hand, smooth it with a spatula, lay down a strip of paper over it, and then go over it again with a second thin coat, making sure to feather it out on the edges, so it blends in well. When all this is done, let it dry well before you sand it down smooth, without going into the paper.
Step #4 - Then it's Time to Texture Your Sheetrock Repair Job
Texturing sheetrock is a little bit tricky, but with a little knowledge under your belt and perhaps a little practice on a large sheet of cardboard out in your yard you can do it. In fact you can even buy a spray on sheetrock texture product that comes on aerosol cans that works pretty well for small repair jobs.
Another good idea that you might find that delivers acceptable results, is taking some of the joint compound that you have, and then dilute it down a bit in a bowl with some water, so it has a thick soupier texture. Simply dip your fingertips in it and flick and splatter it on your repair area to give it some texture.
After the texture is gone on, give it about 10 minutes or so to thicken it up and dry a bit and then use a broad metal spatula to quickly run over it to get a 'knocked down' flat effect to match the existing texture on the rest of your wall, if that's what you have. Once again, you may want to practice first on a piece of plywood first.
A Few Final Words
It just can't be over emphasized how far a little bit of practice on each one of the above listed steps will go towards delivering you optimal results on your final repair.