Homeowners usually don’t think about the drywall in their home – until it starts to show problems. Do you know when it is time to repair, repaint and / or replace drywall in your home?
Drywall: it’s surrounding you all around your home, but it’s usually just doing its job. How do you know when it’s time to repaint, repair, or even replace drywall?
Here are some tips on how to evaluate this common home maintenance need.
What Is Drywall?
Drywall, if you’ve never dealt with it on anything more than a superficial level, is the material used for constructing the interior walls and ceilings of modern homes.
It’s made from a layer of plaster that has been sealed between two layers of paper. It replaced traditional plaster walls early in the 20th century, and has made modern home construction faster and easier. The sheets can be cut and sized as needed, and there is no need to apply plaster.
If you’ve ever marveled at how quickly the walls go up in a new building, drywall is part of the reason it’s possible.
What Can Go Wrong with My Drywall?
With all the advantages that drywall brings to construction, it also has some built-in vulnerabilities.
The materials that it’s constructed from are all susceptible to moisture. It is, after all, made of plaster, which will eventually turn back into paste, if exposed to enough water.
Examples of water exposure could be due to a roof or plumbing leak, or a flood.
Another problem with drywall and water is the potential for mold.
Moisture can be drawn into the actual core of the panels, where it provides a favorable environment for mold to grow, feeding on the outer paper layers and the organic materials that have been added to the plaster during the manufacturing process.
One last area for drywall susceptibility is with termites, who love to eat the paper layers – but not the plaster.
Nevertheless, the paper holds the drywall together, and is also what your wall paint is applied to. If there is damage to the paper, it will present in paint damage that needs to be fixed, as well.
– Other Potential Damage
Last but not least, drywall is subject to:
- Other damage from minor everyday life occurrences
- Large damage from foundation settling or earthquake activity
What Can I Do About Drywall Damage?
The most common types of drywall damage, then, can range from small holes to whole walls or ceilings.
Here’s how to address and evaluate the repairs in your home, and determine what might be a pretty simple DIY project, or one that best needs professional appraisal and treatment.
Small holes can pop up pretty easily. You might have wondered why some doors have stoppers that prevent them from opening all the way back to the wall – unless you’ve accidentally opened up a doorknob-shaped hole with one.
Other holes happen when you hang pictures or other items from the walls, or just crazy accidents.
These smaller issues can be dealt with:
- Joint compound
- Mesh patch material
As a DIY project, these aren’t too difficult to take on and typically don’t require you to replace drywall. You’ll be simply using the joint compound to fill in and smooth out the smaller holes. Joint compound is purchased in tubs- you’ll also need some taping knives and sandpaper for a project like this.
What If It’s a Large Hole in the Wall?
For a larger dent, such as that doorknob hole, you’ll be using a mesh patch to cover up the area.
- These have a peel-off backing and will stick to the wall you are repairing.
- Once you’ve covered the hole, use the joint compound to cover the mesh completely – again, using three separate layers.
- You’ll want to ensure that the actual pattern of the mesh isn’t showing through, so use a good light and check your angles.
- Once dry, you can sand and paint like the other repairs.
Cracks pop up pretty often around windows and doors. To address these, you’ll need to invest in some elastic crack coating and a sanding sponge, in addition to your joint compound.
A sanding sponge is a foam block that has an abrasive finish applied. It allows you to comfortably apply the correct amount of pressure to the crack you’re smoothing out.
- Work the entire length of the crack to ensure that the surface is as smooth as possible.
- Once done, apply a thin coat of the joint compound over the damaged surface. Allow it to dry, then sand it smooth.
- Now apply the crack coating to the repaired surface. This will help prevent the crack from reappearing. Allow for proper curing time, and you can now prime and repaint the area.
3. Popped Nails
One last easy repair is for popped nails or screws. These will sometimes push out from the wall as the interior lumber shrinks. If these bother you, you can carve off a bit of the joint compound over the screw or nail head, and drive it back flush with the wall.
This type of damage typically doesn’t require a homeowner to fully replace drywall either. Once it’s level, reapply some new joint compound, sand, and touch up the paint.
When Should You Call in the Pros to Repair or Replace Drywall?
You should seek the help of a qualified contractor if your damage involves :
- Several holes in a wall that will require a contractor to replace drywall
- Has been water-damaged and has already begun to mold
- Involves extensive ceiling cracking and damage
This level of damage will require that the entire wall or ceiling will need to be repainted by professionals, and that whole sheets of drywall may need to be installed in your home. This requires special equipment and multiple workers that should only be tackled by a professional. They are also experts at matching paint, priming and repainting, and matching textures.
Damage requiring a homeowner to repair or replace drywall is often part of homeownership. It’s subject to damages from large to very small. Smaller repairs can be undertaken by anyone with the right materials and a bit of DIY confidence.
Once the problems move to several areas of a wall, or involve water damage, it’s time to call in the professionals.