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Fixing a hole

By: 11 September 2011 No Comment

The mysterious hole.

Ask any parent out there — one of the sublime joys of having children is that they tear up things from time to time.

It’s even more of a joy when a child tears up something, knows full well that his or her parents can’t prove it and then innocently denies being responsible. So much for the myth about children being truthful (well, Bill Cosby pointed out the folly of that old wives’ tale years ago). Here at my home, a hole mysteriously appeared in the wall in our daughter’s bedroom last week. After going through the typical line of questioning to figure out which of our two children had kicked/punched/kneed a hole in the wall, we were left with a problem — the hole had to be fixed.

Fortunately, fixing a hole and doing a fair job of it is a fairly simple and inexpensive exercise. Hopefully, this article will serve as a bit of a “how to” guide for people dealing with one of those mysterious holes.

Innocent daughter.

First of all, we were fortunate in that we painted our daughter’s room a couple of months ago. That’s important because we have a bucket of the original paint left and the paint on the walls is “new” enough that fading wasn’t an issue. Patching a hole is one thing and painting a repaired wall so it blends in with the rest of the room is another matter entirely.

Our situation, then, bordered on ideal for repairing a wall. Those homeowners unfortunate enough to have to make a repair on a wall that was painted years ago may have problems blending new paint in with the old stuff. In extreme cases, then, you may have a great repair that sticks out like a sore thumb due to paint that doesn’t match the rest of the wall. Fortunately, painting a wall isn’t that hard for those who are too fussy about it.

Innocent son.

So, what does one need to repair a hole? In addition to some paint that will — hopefully — disguised the repaired area and a paintbrush, the only other item that’s really essential in an inexpensive wall repair kit. We opted for the DAP Wall Repair Patch Kit that costs $7.98 at Home Depot. The kit comes with all those hole-repairing essentials — a mesh screen to cover the hole, spackling paste to cover the screen, a putty knife and sandpaper. The spackling paste in that kit is wonderfully utilitarian in that it goes on pink and turns white when it’s dry and ready to sand.

For those who really want to do an ace job on the repair, it’s a good idea to also pick up a sheet of 100 grit sandpaper and a sanding block. Yes, the DAP kit does contain some sandpaper, but it is crucial to sand down the spackling paste so that it blends in well with the area around it. That sanding block will allow for such precision, where’s getting a smooth transition between the repaired area and the wall is a bit more difficult when sanding strictly by hand.

Essential and only $7.88 at Home Depot.

At any rate, using the DAP kit to repair the hole is pretty straightforward. Simply begin the repair by placing the adhesive side of the aluminum screen over the hole and pressing down firmly on it so it will stick. Bear in mind that the screen in that kit is only 4″ wide by 4″ tall — if you’ve got a hole larger than that, there are larger screens available.

Once the screen is in place, apply the spackling paste with the putty knife as conservatively as possible. Slapping too much spackling over the hole will mean you’ll either have to do a lot of sanding when it all dries or decide to live with a big, weird lump in your wall. The method we used to apply the spackling was to put on a thin layer, let it dry for an hour and then apply another layer on top of that one to cover any imperfections and cover up the wire screen a bit better.

While you’re putting the spackling over the screen, keep in mind that the repaired area will be a bit higher than the rest of the wall. Feathering the spackling to it tapers into the other areas of the wall is a great idea.

After the spackling is dry, it’s time to sand the area so that it’s both level and blends in well with the rest of the wall. Sanding with too much aggression will result in a messy repair in that the mesh screen will be fully exposed rather than being glued in place by the spackling. Go for a level surface that tapers into the rest of the wall so that the repair will be difficult to detect after the area is painted.

And, yes, a close look at the area will reveal that it has been repaired. It will be a bit higher than other parts of the wall and will not be textured like the rest of the wall unless you add some texture to it. The repair will, if done right, be difficult to see by any casual observer and that may be good enough for most homeowners.

After the sanding is done, vacuum the area to be painted to remove any spackling dust. Paint the area and wait for it to dry. If more sanding is necessary, go ahead and take care of that and then apply another coat of paint. At that point, you should be done and can do something fun with the money you saved by handling the repair yourself.

Mesh applied.

Sanded and ready to paint.

Repaired and done.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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