How to Patch a Small Hole in Drywall

You can learn how to patch a small hole in drywall with a self-adhesive patch yourself. Even larger can also be repaired with a piece of drywall. 

Person spreading patching compound over hole in drywall

This DIY tip will save you a lot of money compared to having a professional patch your drywall.

Patch Kits to Repair Small Holes in Drywall

Patch kits make this job much simpler than it used to be. They’re readily available at most hardware stores and home improvement centers. That’s the method we’ll be using here.

These patches allow you to get seriously professional-looking results without having the skills and tools of a professional drywall contractor. 

Small Hole or Large Hole?

While patch kits are a great solution for smaller holes or cracks, larger or more complex damage may need the skills of a professional. How do you know if your hole is small or big? There’s a simple rule of thumb.

Holes up to 6″ diameter can be patched with one of these kits. Larger than 6″ holes can still be a DIY job, but may require additional steps, such as using a piece of drywall instead of a patch and possibly adding reinforcing wood strips to support the edges of the piece of drywall.

But if the larger hole is more than a foot or so, you may want to get a professional. This is a judgement call that depends on your experience level with DIY and drywall.

Note that 6″ is a rough estimate. If you have a hole that’s, say, 1 inch wide and 10 inches long, you can probably figure out a way to use a patch kit. 

Choosing the Right Drywall Patch Kit

When it comes to patching a drywall hole, choosing the right patch kit can make all the difference in achieving a seamless finish. Here are some things to consider:

  • Size and type of hole: Different patch kits are designed for different sizes and types of holes – from small nail holes to larger holes left by electrical work or plumbing repairs. Make sure you choose a patch kit that is appropriate for the size and type of hole you need to repair.
  • Included materials and tools: Look for patch kits that include all the necessary materials and tools (such as patch material, joint compound, and a putty knife). Or if you already have some or all of these items, or want to buy them separately, that’s another option.
  • Quality: Read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends or professionals to ensure that you’re choosing a quality kit that will produce the desired results.

Preparing the Wall and Area Around the Hole

Before starting, make sure the area around the hole is clear of any furniture, debris or clutter. You may not need to follow all of the steps below, but many holes will need all of these steps.

  1. Remove any loose or damaged drywall around the hole, using a putty knife or sandpaper. Make sure the edges are smooth and even. (If this is a hole that was deliberately cut by an electrical or plumbing repair rather than an accidental hole, it may already be even.)
  2. Clean the surface: Wipe the area around the hole with a clean, damp cloth or sponge to remove dust, dirt, and grease. This is to ensure better adhesion for the patching materials.
  3. Create a smooth surface: If there are any protruding screw heads or nails around the hole, use a screwdriver or hammer to sink them slightly below the surface of the drywall. This helps prevent them from interfering with the patch.
  4. Apply primer (if necessary): If the drywall is exposed or the hole goes through the paint layer, it’s advisable to apply a coat of primer to the exposed drywall. This helps the patching material adhere properly and prevents the drywall from absorbing moisture from the patching compound.

Measuring and Cutting the Drywall Repair Patch

Before you start cutting the patch, measure the size of the hole using a tape measure or ruler. Once you have the measurements, transfer them onto the patch material using a pencil and straight edge. Ensure that the patch material completely covers the hole with at least an inch of overlap all around.

Use a utility knife or scissors to cut the patch to size. It’s important that the patch fits snugly into the hole. If the hole is irregularly shaped, you may need to cut a piece of scrap drywall to fit into the hole and then cut the patch to fit over the scrap piece.

Rounding the corners of the patch using a utility knife or sandpaper will help to reduce the risk of the patch peeling or cracking when the joint compound dries.

Applying the Patch and Spackle

Now that you’ve prepared the wall and have your patch cut to size, it’s time to apply it! Follow these steps:

  1. Put the self-adhesive patch over the hole and press to make sure it’s sticking and has no air bubbles.
  2. Apply spackling compound or lightweight joint compound onto the patch with a drywall knife. Brush your drywall knife around the edges in a crisscross motion to feather them so they’ll look seamless with the wall. 

  3. Let it dry. If you feel a second coat is needed, apply one and again feather the edges. 


After the spackle has dried completely, you may need to sand it smooth. If it already feels smooth to you, you can just go ahead and paint it.

Otherwise, use a fine-grit sandpaper to sand the first layer of joint compound until it’s even with the surrounding area. Be careful not to sand too hard and create a depression in the patch.

Texturing and Painting the Patched Area

Now that the joint compound has fully dried, it’s time to texture and paint the patched area. This will help the patch blend in with the surrounding wall, giving it a seamless appearance.

If your wall was smooth, you may be able to skip this step. The spackle should leave a smooth surface that’s ready to paint once it’s dry.

Matching the Texture

Matching the texture of the surrounding wall is crucial for a professional finish. If you’re unsure what type of texture your wall has, take a small piece of the wall to your local home improvement store for advice or purchase a texture spray that matches your wall.

Using a texture spray or roller, apply a thin coat of texture to the patched area. Start with a light application and add more as needed until the texture matches the surrounding wall. Allow the texture to dry completely before moving on.

Painting the Patched Area

Before painting, make sure the textured area is completely dry. Begin by applying a thin coat of paint over the patched area, starting at the edges and working inwards. Allow the paint to dry completely before adding additional coats. Repeat this process until the patched area is the same color and tone as the surrounding wall.

Remember to use multiple thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat, as this will give you a smoother and more even finish. Once the final coat of paint is dry, step back and inspect your work. If necessary, touch up any areas that need additional attention.

Tips and Tricks for a Professional Finish

  • Use a level and straight edge when measuring and cutting the patch to ensure accurate size and shape.
  • Choose the right size patch kit for your job.
  • Take your time and allow each layer of spackle or other compounds to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  • When sanding, use both coarse and fine-grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth and even finish.
  • Match the texture of the surrounding area using a texture spray or roller for a seamless appearance.
  • Apply multiple thin coats of paint, allowing each to dry completely in between to prevent peeling or uneven finish.
  • If you’re uncertain about your skills, practice on a small area before tackling a larger patch.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Patching a Drywall Hole

  • Applying too much spackle: When applying spackle, less is more. Applying too much compound can result in bulging or cracking once it dries. To avoid this mistake, apply the compound in thin layers, allowing each layer to dry completely before adding another.
  • Not allowing enough drying time: Patience is key when patching drywall. Rushing the drying process can lead to an uneven finish or even peeling. Be sure to allow each layer of spackle, primer or paint to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  • Using the wrong patch material or tools: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to choose the right patch kit for the size and type of hole you’re repairing. Using the wrong materials or tools can lead to poor quality results. Take the time to research and ask for recommendations to ensure you’re using the best materials for the job.

Patching a drywall hole may seem daunting, but with the right materials and tools, it can be done quickly and easily. By following these steps, you can achieve a professional finish that seamlessly blends with the surrounding wall.