What are the Different Types of Drywall Damage?


Drywall, a fundamental building material for walls and ceilings, is a crucial part of your home’s structure. Quickly addressing drywall issues is vital to prevent more significant problems from arising later. If you don’t know what to do with crumbling, cracking, or scuffed-up drywall, don’t fret! This article will guide you about the types of drywall damage and how to handle its repairs.

1. Furniture Scuffs and Marks

Over time, your dining room chairs, drawers, and couches are bound to bump into your home’s drywall, leaving unsightly dents and scratches that can make the space feel neglected. These marks often resemble pencil or marker stains, and some may even exist before you move into your home.

The good thing is repairing this kind of problem is well within the reach of most homeowners. If the damage hasn’t torn off drywall pieces, a readily available cleaning sponge can often remove these marks. If that doesn’t work, consider painting or wallpapering over them.

But if there are loose drywall fragments, start by eliminating them from the affected area. Thoroughly clean the spot by either vacuuming or dusting it. Next, use a putty knife, a handy drywall repair tool, to apply interior spackle (or joint compound). Allow it to dry before smoothing it out through sanding.

Ensure you achieve a flawlessly smooth surface. If not, reapply the spackle and sand again. Once that’s done, apply an interior primer to the repaired area and touch it up with matching paint. If finding a perfect paint match proves challenging or the original color has faded over time, consider painting the entire wall to ensure a seamless blend.

Sanding is extremely important. You can’t take shortcuts here; any imperfection will appear when you prime and paint the repair.

To prevent further damage, keep furniture at a distance from the walls and exercise caution when moving it around. It’s best to keep larger pieces away from the wall.

2. Ceiling Cracks

cracked ceiling

As your home settles over time, the seams that were concealed in your ceiling’s drywall may start to shift. This problem is more common in multi-story buildings due to increased activity above the ceiling, but it can also result from events like storms, earthquakes, or natural shifting.

To properly mend a ceiling crack, carefully use a razor knife to excavate the exposed line. Angle the blade and trim about one-quarter inch from each side; this creates a space to apply drywall mud.

To prevent the crack from reappearing, install fiberglass drywall tape and smooth the surface through several steps. Allow the mud to dry before sanding, and apply multiple thin layers for a perfectly even finish. Repairing drywall damage like this calls for a wide drywall knife and a skilled touch, making it a good idea to hire a local handyman for ceiling drywall repairs. If your repair needs specialized expertise, consider hiring a drywall contractor.

3. Water Damage

flooding rainwater causing damage on walls

Drywall is vulnerable to water damage, which, if not addressed promptly, can lead to mold and mildew growth, posing health risks. Water damage can occur from various sources, such as leaking roofs or damaged plumbing. Whether it’s a toilet leak on the second floor or hail damage causing an unseen roof leak, you’re left with an unsightly and discolored section of your ceiling. Once drywall becomes soaked through with water, it’s permanently damaged.

Address the water issue promptly, as it can lead to further damage and health concerns. Once the water problem is resolved, the best approach is to remove the affected drywall area and install new drywall. This ensures the removal of damaged material and minimizes health hazards associated with mold exposure.

While this situation is not always preventable, maintaining your plumbing can reduce the chances of recurrence.

4. Cracking on Walls

You might think a small crack in your drywall is inconsequential, but it can escalate into a more significant problem. Cracks in drywall can lead to more complex damage affecting the entire foundation of your home. Drywall cracks are commonly found at joints or where two panels meet. They can result from thermal contraction and expansion, roof or plumbing problems, or settling or poorly installed drywall. Simply covering the crack with a joint compound won’t suffice.

When you notice cracks, investigate the underlying cause first. Once you’ve identified the issue, you can proceed to fix the crack with the joint compound.

5. Large Holes

a big hole in drywall

Sometimes, whether it’s doors, elbows, or rogue footballs inside the house (despite your best efforts to forbid them), large and unsightly holes appear in your drywall. These holes pose a unique challenge because there’s no surface behind them to attach a patch or fill with mud. If the hole is too big to cover with joint compound or adhesive tape, a different approach is needed.

There are two effective ways to address this common drywall problem. The old-school approach involves placing a paint stir stick behind the hole and using drywall screws to cinch it back up against the hole. This creates a surface where you can screw a new piece of drywall that’s cut to fit. Finish by smoothing the surface with spackle or drywall mud.

A newer method involves using a thin aluminum sheet with sticky fiberglass drywall tape along the sides. These can typically be found in the painting section of hardware stores. Peel off the sticker backing, install the panel across the hole, and then apply drywall mud. After sanding, prime, and finish with matching paint.

For sizable holes, start by cutting out the damaged section entirely. Before cutting, make sure there are no pipes or wires behind the area. Do this carefully and precisely. Clean up the edges with the joint compound, then apply drywall tape and press it into the compound. Allow it to dry before sanding it smooth. If needed, paint the area afterward.

If these DIY methods prove challenging or if all else fails, it’s a good idea to call a drywall contractor for assistance. Professional drywall repair typically costs between $50 and $75 per square foot.

6. Dented Corner Bead 

A corner bead is an L-shaped metal strip used to cover drywall corners, remaining hidden after joint compound application. Normal wear and tear can lead to dents in the corner bead. It can also shift and develop cracks over time. This can result from various factors, like using a vacuum cleaner or moving items around carelessly in your home.

To resolve this issue, scrape away the drywall covering the corner bead to expose the affected area. Flatten the corner bead using a hammer. In some cases, you will have to re-screw the corner bead in place. Once the damage has been corrected, apply joint compound and drywall tape to refinish the surface.

7. Door Handle Holes

Door handle holes are the result of door handles striking the drywall too forcefully when opening. They leave dents or holes in the wall, causing damage that can be frustrating to deal with. While the best advice is to open doors carefully, that’s not always feasible, especially in homes with kids where accidents can happen.

To fix these holes, you must apply joint compound or adhesive backing tape to cover them. Apply a thin layer of joint compound, let it dry overnight, and sand it the next day for a smooth finish. Then, paint over the repaired area to blend it with the rest of the wall.

To prevent these holes, consider installing a backplate on the wall. This protective plate covers the area where the door handle could make contact with the wall, shielding it from further damage.

8. Nail or Screw Pops

Nail or screw pops are a common reason for drywall repairs. They typically occur when screws are driven too far into the wall or not secured at the center of the stud. Natural expansion and contraction of the stud due to temperature changes can also contribute.

To address nail or screw pops correctly, completely remove the problematic screw or nail. Do not attempt to hammer it back in. Hammering them back in can cause further damage and might lead to them popping out again. Instead, install the screw or nail at a different but nearby point, ensuring it is countersunk. Placing them in a slightly different point can help ensure a secure and proper fastening, preventing future nail pops. Then, use joint compound and drywall tape to refinish the surface for a seamless repair.

9. Over-Tightened Screws

This problem is caused by improper installation. You may have tightened a screw too much, causing it to poke through the drywall and leaving your wall looking uneven and unprofessional.

To fix it, start by removing the over-tightened screw; if you leave it, it’ll create a noticeable raised spot on the wall. After removal, insert a new screw into a different vertical spot along the same wall joist. Space the new screw within 6 inches on each side of the old one while pressing down on the sheetrock to ensure it’s against the vertical joist. Patch and repair the holes with spackle, then prime and touch up with matching paint.

10. Sagging Plaster Ceilings

This happens when your charming older home has seen some years, and its plaster ceilings have developed a sagging issue.

If you’re dealing with sagging plaster ceilings, it’s a challenging drywall problem. Pieces of plaster have likely slipped behind the material, making it tough to restore them to a truly flat condition. In this case, it’s advisable to consult a local drywall contractor who can expertly address the issue. It may be time for a replacement.

11. Picture Frame Holes

Pictures and artwork add character to your home but can also leave behind a patchwork of wall holes when you decide to change things up.

For minor drywall repairs, especially smaller holes left by picture mounts or tacks, painter’s putty (also known as glazing putty) is your go-to solution. It has a dough-like consistency, making it easy to work with. Create small balls of putty, press them into the hole, smooth with your finger, and let it dry. If you have matching paint, dab it onto the hole for a couple of coats to make it vanish. If you’re repainting the room and don’t have the original paint, skip the primer and paint as usual. This quick drywall fix is also perfect for apartment walls.

12. Nail Holes

Nail holes are common in drywall, resulting from hanging pictures and other items on walls. They’re fine while the item is in place, but what happens when you move it? You’re left with an unsightly hole in the wall where the nail used to be.

Fortunately, you can quickly fix this issue with the right drywall repair approach. First, you have to fill the holes with premixed drywall compound, allow it to dry, and then sand it down until it’s flush with the wall. Then, finish by painting over the spot to blend it in. Soon, no one will know there was ever a hole in the wall.

13. Split or Lifted Drywall Tape

Drywall tape can sometimes split, loosen, or lift due to improper installation or natural wear and tear. If the tape doesn’t have enough mud underneath to adhere firmly, it can start to pull away from the wall, leading to a visible straight-line crack.

To tackle this common drywall problem. Use a knife to cut off the damaged section of the tape. Apply joint compound to smoothen the surface, then place new drywall tape over the compound. Let it dry, and sand the surface.

For a seamless repair, you may have to repeat the process two more times. After that, you can prime the area in preparation for repainting.

14. Textured Drywall Patches

You may live in a home that features textured drywall on every wall surface. This common contractor trick speeds up installation and adds visual appeal when done right. But matching that texture can be tricky if you need to repair it.

After making the necessary repairs to cover the hole or crack, you’ll need to apply a bit of artistic finesse. Hardware stores offer small cans of spray-on texture material that provide a quick and relatively easy solution.

To begin, protect the floor with tarps and tape off the baseboard for easier cleanup. Spray the texture material, and if needed, use a wide putty knife to shave down any stippling it creates, matching the existing look. Finish by priming and painting with matching paint once you’re satisfied with the texture.

15. Tile Removal Damage

Ceramic tiles can enhance the appearance of your space, especially in areas like bathrooms. However, during bathroom renovations, removing tiles incorrectly can lead to drywall damage.

To avoid this issue, take precautions when removing tiles. Use tools that safely break them off, or opt for a wide-blade putty knife. Seek advice at your local hardware store before starting to ensure you protect the wall behind the tiles.

If you already have damaged drywall due to tile removal, drywall services can help. Apply premixed drywall compound to the damaged area, let it dry, and then smooth and sand it to restore a uniform surface. Don’t forget to prime and paint the area as needed.

16. Termite Damage

Termites can wreak havoc on your drywall. Detecting their presence early is crucial as the signs of damage can vary from subtle to severe, including small pinholes, a hollow sound when tapping the wall, bubbling paint, and crumbling baseboards.

If you discover termites, the first step is to call a reputable pest control company to remove them from your home. Once the termites are gone, you can proceed with drywall repairs, provided the structural foundation is unaffected.

Remove any necessary baseboards and replace the damaged drywall section entirely. This will ensure your walls regain their strength and stability after the termite infestation.

Once the drywall is replaced, smoothen the surface with a joint compound. Allow it to dry, then sand and paint.

Bottom Line

The extent of drywall repairs depends on the specific issue at hand. Drywall problems can range from small nail holes to large gaps caused by water damage. Beyond cosmetic concerns, these issues can impact a building’s stability, potentially jeopardizing safety. Addressing significant drywall problems promptly is crucial.

Drywall installation and repair are DIY-friendly, but common drywall issues can sometimes stem from improper installation. If you keep encountering drywall problems, it’s possible you’re making mistakes. In such cases, the initial cost savings from DIY may not outweigh the ongoing repair expenses, making professional drywall repair a wise consideration.

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