There's no secret to fixing drywall problems
Your son is playing catch with his friend in the living room for the third time this week. You start to tell him to take it outside when he misses a catch. It flies past the vase, but you now have a baseball-sized hole in your drywall.
What are you going to do?
For starters, don't panic. Yes, your son is probably in trouble. No, it's probably not worth yelling about. Your son can probably even help with the repairs. It may not be fun, but it may serve as a more appropriate punishment than three weeks without television. Drywall repair can be quite easy if you know what you're doing. Here's how to patch up that drywall without having to hang new drywall.
To begin, measure the width and height of the damaged area. With these measurements, you can do several things. One option is to get a drywall patch. This is a piece of drywall with adhesive that you can cut out and stick to the rest of the surrounding drywall. It can serve as a quick fix or as a long-term fix depending on the extent of the damage.
Another way to deal with drywall damage is to make your own patch. Using a utility knife, cut out a square or rectangle around the hole, keeping the cutout as intact as possible. Place the fragment over a new piece of drywall and trace the outside edge. Cut your replacement slightly larger than the square in your wall to give you room to negotiate. It's better to have a patch that's too large than one that's too small. Now, get a small piece of wood the same width as the patched area but a few inches longer. This will serve as your patch support. At this point, it's a good idea to form some kind of handle on the patch support, either with a drywall screw or a small nail, to give you something to hold onto to. Slide the support into the hole and drill it in place using drywall screws. Apply some drywall putty around the edge of the patch area and place the patch in. Using a drill, place a couple of drywall screws through the patch to screw it into the drywall support.
Once the patch is in, you need to cover it with some drywall compound. Try not to overdo it, and use just enough to cover the patch and a few inches to each side. When the compound is dry, sand down the area and apply the compound a second time. When it has dried, sand down the area again and check to see if the wall feels like one continuous smooth piece. If so, you can repaint or replace wallpaper on that part of the wall. If it's not quite smooth, make a third application of compound under the same guidelines as the first two.
A slightly easier solution for smaller dents like those made by door handles is drywall tape. Lay the tape across the hole and spread some compound over the tape. The compound will ooze through the mesh tape into the hole in the drywall, and once it has dried, it will form a new solid piece of drywall. Then all you'll have left to do is the sanding and re-sanding.
No matter which option you choose, if all goes well, your wall should look like new. And more important, your son will have learned not to play ball in the house . . . for now anyway.