Category: Walls & Ceilings

Repair Drywall with Less Hassle

If you’re armed with the right tools and a little know-how, you’ll never even think about hiring someone to handle this simple task again.

Drywall repair

Photo: HYDE Tools

Let’s be honest. Drywall repair is not something most people look forward to. Although it’s relatively straightforward in theory, if you have ever done it then you know that the dry time of the mud and all the dust created by sanding can turn the task into a big hassle. If you’ve repaired drywall before and your results didn’t turn out as seamless as you had envisioned, then you may be inclined to pay someone else to deal with it next time. Before you tackle the job again (or just throw in the towel), check out these helpful hints that will make drywall repairs easier and smoother.

HYDE bear claw repair clips

HYDE Bear Claw Drywall Repair Clips in use.

Patching large holes
If you have a large hole to repair, the first thing you need to do is cut a square piece of new drywall larger than the area you are repairing. Hold the new piece over the hole and trace around it. (Be sure to mark the top of the patch as a reference for when you install it as it’s not likely to be a perfect square.) With a drywall saw, cut along the lines that you just traced. The new hole is now ready to accept the drywall patch.

There are several ways to keep the new piece flush with the existing drywall, but the easiest way is to use Bear Claw Drywall Repair Clips from HYDE Tools. Simply clip them on the drywall and slide it into place; no nails, screws, or tools required. Apply drywall tape or HYDE’s Wet & Set (in roll form) over the clips and seams, and you’re ready to finish with mud—in other words, joint compound.

Patching small holes
For holes smaller than a baseball but bigger than a nail hole, there’s an easier patching solution than cutting a new piece of drywall. HYDE’s Wet & Set Repair Patch is a flexible sheet of water-activated patching material that dries within 30 minutes. It is impregnated with joint compounds and polymers specifically designed for patching walls and ceilings. Simply cut the patch to the size you need, dip it in water, and smooth it over the hole. After about 30 minutes it’s ready for finishing with mud.

Regardless of which method you used, once the patch is in place, it’s time for finishing. Apply a thin coat of mud over the patch, making sure to overlap a few inches onto the existing wall surface. The key here is to use a joint knife in order to get the most uniform results. (Don’t use a narrow spackling knife that you might use to fill nail holes.) Also, don’t apply too much mud; a thin coat is more desirable and will make sanding that much easier. Wait for it to dry, and apply a second thin coat until smooth and seamless.

Sanding is the messiest part of the job because the fine dust gets everywhere. Even if you cover your furniture and floors with plastic, dust still seems to infiltrate every nook and cranny. The best investment you can make here is HYDE’s Dust-Free Sponge Sander. It connects to wet/dry vacuums equipped with fine dust filters to remove dust while you are sanding. This tool is particularly useful for any drywall repair job in a finished area of your home. Remember, the key to effective sanding is to use long and broad strokes so you seamlessly blend in the dried mud. Avoid getting carried away and sanding too much—you don’t want to expose any clips or edges of the patch.

Note: Before you paint, make sure the patched area feels smooth. With your eye close to and parallel to the wall, look down to see if it’s completely flat (doing so now will eliminate the pesky “hump” that sometimes becomes visible after painting). Also, don’t forget to prime the patched spot before painting or the finish will look dull compared with the rest of the wall.

Following these simple tips and techniques can take the headache out of drywall repair and save you from calling in a pro for such a small job. Plus, when you’re all done, you get to enjoy the satisfying feeling of stepping back and admiring your work—even though in this case your work will be completely undetectable!

This post has been brought to you by HYDE®. Its facts and opinions are those of

How To: Build a Temporary Wall

If you need to divide a shared kids' room or transform a corner alcove into a home office, then a temporary wall may be just the ticket.


If you can’t live with the layout of your space, a temporary wall may be just the solution you need. For decades, renters have relied on temporary walls to “make it work” under less-than-ideal circumstances. Homeowners too can benefit from temporary walls: Building one enables you to judge whether a planned change is worth pursuing. And because a temporary wall does not tie into the framing, removing it is easily done, with a minimum of mess.

Note: Before you undertake to build a temporary wall, be sure that you check local building codes, paying close attention to relevant stipulations. Contact your municipal building department for clarification, if necessary. Renters are advised to ask the building owner or management company for permission.

- Sill seal
- 2x4s (quantity and lengths depend on wall size)
- Wooden shims
- Drywall
- Nails or screws
- Circular saw
- Drill
- Hammer

Sill seal is foreign to many do-it-yourselfers, even those who’ve successfully completed scores of projects. Here, the 1/4-inch-thick foam performs two functions. First, it protects the existing floor, walls, and ceiling from damage. Second, and more importantly, the sill seal provides the pressure needed to secure the temporary wall wherever you choose to position it. Before doing anything else, apply the sill seal to those surfaces with which the temporary wall is going to be in contact.

Cut a pair of 2x4s to the length you want the temporary wall to be. These two pieces of wood are known as the plates; they will form, respectively, the top and bottom margins of the wall. Next, measure the height from floor to ceiling. Because that height may vary, it’s wise to measure twice: once for the left edge of the temporary wall, then again for the right edge. Subtract three inches from each measurement, then cut a 2×4 to correspond to each length. These are the end studs.

How to Build a Temporary Wall - Studs


Set the bottom plate over the sill seal you’ve already applied to the floor. Next, ask a helper to hold up the top plate—with sill seal between the board and ceiling—as you wedge the end studs into place. (Remember that sill seal also needs to run along the existing walls against which you are placing the vertical members.) If either stud needs persuading to fit snugly between the plates, tap it in with a hammer. Are the studs too tall? Trim off some height with a sander or circular saw, then try your luck again. With short studs, use one or more wooden shims to close the gap.

Now that you’ve established the wall perimeter, fasten the end studs into the plates by means of either nails or screws (the latter are easier to remove). For added stability, particularly if you have kids or plan to install a door, it’s smart to nail or screw the top plate to the nearest ceiling joist.

Install the remaining studs at intervals of 16 or 24 inches. (At this point, if you’d like to inhibit the transmission of sound through the temporary wall, add batt fiberglass insulation in the stud cavities.) Finally, put up the drywall panels; for ease of removal later, screws are recommended.

Finish the wall however you please. Some may be perfectly satisfied with the rudimentary look of unfinished drywall. Others may choose to paint the surface or even to install baseboard. Much depends on the purpose of the temporary wall, but it’s certainly possible to make it resemble your permanent walls. But remember, the more you add on, the more you’ll eventually need to take off.

Follow your design sense and do what makes you happy. After all, it’s your (newly defined) space!

Quick Tip: Trim Protection Tape

True to its name, trim protection tape keeps woodwork from being damaged in the course of remodeling. Here's what to know about it.

Protecting woodwork before you paint (or do other work) around it will save you time and money later. Trim protection tape comes in a variety of widths for any trim detail, from moldings to banisters. Look for a product that’s easy to use, will stick solidly to surfaces for as long as your project lasts, and won’t leave a sticky residue when it’s removed.

For more on trim and molding, consider:

How To: Paint Trim
Quick Tip: Installing Crown Molding
Get Trim! 9 Ways to Dress Up a Room with Molding

Bob Vila Radio: Plaster Wall Cutouts

It can be somewhat complicated to create plaster wall cutouts for light switches, electrical outlets, or recessed shelves, but following these simple steps can help you get the job done with minimal fuss.

It’s pretty straightforward to cut a hole in drywall to add a light switch, electrical outlet, or even a recessed shelf or niche. If your walls are made out of old plaster, the job is a little bit more complicated, but you can still do it yourself if you take proper precautions and have the right tools.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PLASTER WALL CUTOUTS or read the text below:

Plaster Wall Cutouts


The tricky part is that old plaster doesn’t necessarily want to come down in straight lines, and unless you’re gutting the whole room, you probably want a sharp outline between the plaster you’re removing and the wall you’re leaving up. So how can you get clean cuts in plaster?

One way is to pencil in your cutout first, then score the plaster surface with a utility knife or a rotary tool, penetrating a quarter-inch or so. Once you have a clean line scored all around the area you want to cut, use a reciprocating saw to cut along the line and take out both the plaster and underlying lath at once. Work slowly and carefully, and don’t force the blade.

Remember, wear a respirator mask, safety goggles, and thick work gloves. And if the plaster does crumble in a spot or two and create a jagged edge in your straight line, don’t worry—you can fill in small irregularities with drywall compound.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

What Would Bob Do? Preventing Window Condensation

Does water condense on the inside of your windows all winter long? If so, try a few of these moisture-controlling solutions.

Window Condensation


It’s winter and I keep getting condensation on the inside of my windows. What’s the solution?

When moist, warm air makes contact with a window—typically the coolest surface in a given space (at least during the winter)—condensation forms. That’s because cool air cannot hold as much water vapor as warm air. If window condensation drives you crazy throughout the winter, I can recommend any number of solutions, most of which are geared toward lowering the relative humidity in your home. One or a combination of the actions listed below should do the trick. It may be worth it for you to purchase a hygrometer, an instrument that measures relative humidity, to assist you in your efforts to reduce household moisture.

• Operate room humidifiers strictly on an as-needed basis. If you are running a whole-house humidifier, reduce its output, then wait a day to see what happens. If the problem persists, turn the humidifier down even further. (It is usually necessary to do this only when outdoor temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.)

• Run the bathroom exhaust fan while you’re showering and the range hood exhaust fan while you’re cooking. Leave fans running for 10 or 15 minutes after either activity. Double-check that both of these fans—and indeed all the exhaust systems in your home—ventilate to the outdoors and not to the basement, attic, or garage.

• Inspect the entirety of your home—including the basement, roof, and plumbing—for evidence of leaks, because they can have a significant impact on relative humidity.

• If you’re in the habit of drying your laundry on racks indoors, try suspending the practice to see whether that prevents window condensation from forming.

• Avoid indoor storage of freshly cut, nonseasoned firewood, because it contains a high degree of moisture.

• Pull back window treatments so the heated air in your home can raise the temperature of the window glass, thereby reducing the likelihood of condensation.

Install storm windows, which can raise the temperature on the surface of your interior windows, keeping them from reaching the point at which water condenses.

In addition to high relative humidity, insufficient household ventilation can also cause window condensation. If you live in a climate with cold winters and your home is very tightly sealed—and if there are more than a few inhabitants, each of whom adds moisture to the home every day—consider a heat recovery ventilation system. This type of system controls the introduction of fresh air from the outdoors and the expulsion of stale, overly moist air from within.

Quick Tip: No-Coat Drywall Corners

Installing drywall corner bead makes quicker, easier work of what can be a time-consuming and often tricky process. Here's how it's done.

If you’ve ever done drywall work, you know the corners are the really tricky part. These no-coat drywall corners are ready-made of high-impact plastic backed with joint tape for an easy, tight bond with mud. Shove the corner into a bed of mud—no need for screws or nails. Feather the edges with compound, and you’re done.

For more on drywall, consider:

Drywall vs. Blueboard
Quick Tip: Taping Drywall Joints
How To: Finish Seamless Drywall

Quick Tip: Ornamental Plaster Reproductions

With ornamental plaster reproductions, homeowners can replace damaged historic detailing or grace new construction with a charming addition, rich in history.

The lost art of Victorian plaster detailing is making a comeback in a new form. Modern manufacturers are finding ways to reproduce cornice moldings, brackets, rosettes and ceiling medallions, using lightweight polymers. Less prone to damage than plaster, polymer details are flexible, paintable, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

For more on trim and molding, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Plaster
How To: Patch Plaster Walls
Plaster Cornice Reconstruction (VIDEO)

Quick Tip: Taping Drywall Joints

Taping drywall is the most important—and often the trickiest—step in the installation process. Follow these guidelines to render the seam between panels all but invisible.

Here’s a helpful tip for getting really smooth drywall seam. After you’ve laid the tape in a four-inch bed of joint compound, apply another thin coat of compound with a six-inch knife. Let it dry overnight, then add another coat with a ten-inch trowel. Feather the edges out with the knife. Smooth it out again with the ten-inch trowel and let it dry. Apply your third coat the same way, this time with a 12-inch trowel. Increase the size of your trowel with each coat, and you’ll be sure to get an invisible seam every time.

For more on drywall, consider:

Seamless Drywall Finishing
Quick Tip: Installing Drywall
How To: Finish Drywall Joints

How To: Texture Walls

Raise visual interest in your home by raising the texture of your walls. It’s a fun DIY project that allows your creativity to really come through.

How to Texture Walls


When you texture the walls of your house, you accomplish two things. First, you transform boring-to-look-at surfaces into pitted, peaked, and otherwise visually appealing objects of interest. Second, you are able to hide any imperfections that may exist on the wall, which saves the trouble of making a dozen little repairs.

Related: 5 DIY Wood Wall Treatment Ideas

There is an almost endless number of techniques for texturing walls—the process is as much an art form as it is a popular home improvement job. To learn more about several of the most common approaches, we contacted texture and design specialist Larry Oliver, owner of Westchester, New York-based Lawrence Oliver Painting.

Drywall Mud
An easy way to texture walls is by simulating a stucco finish. According to Oliver, this virtually fail-safe method often yields satisfying results for average do-it-yourselfers. “Apply taping or joint compound to your wall with a trowel or a wide compound knife,” he explains. “Next, dab a sponge into the compound, then press the sponge against the wall repeatedly to create an overall texture. Dab on additional compound as necessary. Let dry and then paint.”

Joint taping compound, also known as drywall mud, can be purchased at any home improvement store. When using compound to texture walls, first make sure the walls are clean and completely dry. Water down the compound slightly prior to application so that it has the consistency of thick pancake batter. One thing homeowners like about working with compound is that if you apply too much or incorrectly position it, you can simply wipe away the mistake and begin again.

Another way to use joint compound to texture walls is to apply it by means of a notched trowel (the kind used to skim-coat a plaster wall) or a squeegee into which you’ve cut a series of indentations. Use either tool to make a line pattern across the breadth of the wall surface. Work in one direction first, then go in the perpendicular direction, spreading the mud in such a way as to form a crosshatched pattern, one that looks the way some woven fabrics do when seen up close.

To achieve the popular “skip trowel” wall texture, a knife is angled during compound application to create a pleasingly uneven surface. Don’t be fooled: You need a steady hand to pull this off. That’s why Oliver suggests a different approach for DIYers: the knockdown method. “Use taping compound and a sea-sponge roller. Roll the compound onto your wall with about 80 percent coverage. Before the compound dries, lightly smooth the higher areas with a knife.”

In the stomp-knockdown technique, a variation of the above, a special brush is smacked repeatedly against a compound-covered wall. Some of the mud pulls away from the wall with each strike. Before the compound starts to dry, the installer follows up with a knife or paint scraper in order to eliminate unwanted peaks.

Oliver says that if you’ve chosen to apply taping compound with either the knockdown or stomp-knockdown method, it’s important that you wield the putty knife at the correct angle (approximately 15 degrees) and not exert too much pressure. “The slight angle and light pressure ensure that you do not smooth out your finish too much.” Oliver then cautions, “Always remember not to be heavy-handed in the corners and edges—that’s a common mistake made among DIYers.”

Other tools that may be employed to apply joint compound include tissue paper, old rags, and specially designed deep-nap rollers. In addition, you can also try rolling on the compound with a standard paint roller before artfully removing some of the material you have added. Because compound has a forgiving nature, feel free to experiment with whichever technique you find the most promising. In all cases, let the compound dry thoroughly before you proceed to paint. Depending on local humidity, drying may take as long as 24 hours. To speed the process, aim a fan toward the wall surface on which you have been working.

How to Texture Walls - Blue


Many of the major paint manufacturers offer a line of textured paints. Such products work similarly to drywall mud, but because they are comparatively more difficult to remove, they require greater precision.

For example, when using textured paint, you must work quickly to cover the entire surface before the coat dries. If one area dries before you’ve covered the next, rigid lines may appear at their intersection.

Related: How To: Paint EVERYTHING 

That said, textured paint goes on simply with a standard paint roller and a brush to cut in at edges and corners. Two coats are typically needed, one for the base and another as the finishing layer.

Because textured paints are available in only a limited range of hues, you may wish to pursue a different option—namely, a paint texture additive, which can be mixed with any color of regular paint you like.

If you wish to texture a very large wall or the walls in several rooms, consider renting a drywall texture sprayer. Powered by compressed air and featuring a gun-like nozzle, a sprayer speedily covers surfaces in joint compound, producing, among a variety of other looks, the currently passé “popcorn” texture.

The pattern a sprayer creates depends on three variables: the type of compound used, the nozzle selected, and the amount of air that is propelling the mud. There’s no harm in experimenting, as the compound can be easily sponged off if you end up with a texture that is not to your liking.

Be advised that if you decide to employ a sprayer in a home decked out with furnishings and finished floors, it’s essential to cover anything that you don’t want hit by mud.

No matter the technique you opt to use, Oliver offers one final recommendation: “When texturing walls, try not to be too repetitive, making the same shape over and over like chicken tracks,” he says. “To create a more professional finish, keep the textured pattern random.” This should come as a relief to many DIYers, because intricate patterning is harder to accomplish than random texturing. So give it a shot, and have fun!

What Would Bob Do? Dealing with Bulging Drywall Seams

Bulging drywall seams have a number of possible causes. Read on for the likely culprits and the most effective solutions.


Many of the drywall seams on my 40-year-old house are bulging. It doesn’t appear as if the joint tape is pulling away from the seams, because when I tried to remove some of the tape, it was extremely difficult. Also, the drywall appears to be pretty firmly attached. When I press on both sides of the seam, the drywall doesn’t move. Could it be that the seams have always looked this way? Could this just be the result of a poor spackling job when the  joint tape and compound were applied in the first place? What should I do to make these seams less visible?

With the drywall firmly attached, as you say it is, I can think of only three situations in which the seams would bulge, sag, or buckle.

Sometimes, drywall seams become visible when a house has undergone considerable settling. But unless your geographical area has had unusually dry or wet conditions in recent years, structural problems are probably not at play in your 40-year-old home. If, however, you notice any other signs of settling—cracks in the foundation, torn drywall joints, or gaps either along the baseboards or at the point where walls meet ceilings—hire a foundation expert to do an inspection.

Related: Drywall vs. Blueboard Explained (VIDEO)

The more likely culprit is the manner in which your drywall was installed. For the seam between drywall panels to disappear after painting, that joint must be covered with compound in a specific way—in a series of layers, with each layer wider than the last. Additionally, each layer needs to dry—and, in some cases, should be sanded—before the next layer goes on. For tradesmen, it’s a time-consuming process, one that often requires repeat visits to the job site. That being the case, it’s not uncommon for a contractor to use fewer layers than would be ideal, leaving the drywall seam insufficiently feathered to the adjacent surfaces. Or, an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer may have done the work, in the process making some common mistakes without knowing the error of his ways.

Here’s yet another possible cause: When drywall sheets with uncut edges are butted together, a depression forms along the line where they join. That depression is meant to accommodate joint compound and drywall tape. Trouble arises only when installers opt to use cut drywall: Because the edges of these sheets aren’t tapered, there’s no depression when they’re paired. As a result, the joint compound and drywall tape are applied over the plane of the drywall surface, resulting in a buildup that looks very much like a bulge. Again, the explanation is that either a pro did the work and chose to cut corners, or a DIYer did so unwittingly.

No matter the cause, the solution to bulging drywall seams is almost always the same: Call in a contractor to apply a skim coat of compound over the entire wall. That coat fills in the recessed areas, creating a flat-looking surface. This isn’t a job for the average person to do over the weekend; it’s specialized work that requires a trained hand. If you’d rather not spend the money, consider repainting the affected walls in a flat paint, as sheens make it easier to spot imperfections.