Skip to main content

Repair or replace? What you should know about busted drywall

For a home to look as clean, polished, and modern as possible, make sure the condition of your walls is in tip-top shape. If your drywall starts to show some imperfections, be it small nicks or gaping holes, address the issue and bring the room back to its former glory. As long as the structural integrity of the drywall panel isn’t compromised, you can repair minor damage quickly and without spending a fortune.

SJ Duran/Shutterstock

Repairable damage

Repairing drywall may seem like a hefty or overwhelming task, but fixing cosmetic damage is actually a pretty simple process. In many cases where the damage isn’t too expensive, all you need is some DIY knowledge to patch up these blemishes.

Minor dents, dings, and scratches

Since drywall isn’t the toughest construction material on the market, it’s susceptible to the nicks and scratches that come along with everyday life. You can repair nail holes, dents from doorknobs, and even scratches from the furniture with just putty and a few sheets of sandpaper.

Small or medium-sized holes

Even if the doorknob goes straight through the drywall or a rogue piece of furniture crashes through the wall during a move, you still may not need to replace the whole panel. Drywall repair kits are readily available, so you can patch up smaller holes and give your wall a much-needed facelift. Even in the case of medium-sized or large holes, you may still be able to cut out the damaged portion and insert a new piece of drywall without removing the whole panel.

Localized water damage, caught early

When pipes leak, it can cause some serious damage to your drywall. However, if the water damage is fairly localized on one panel, the fix might be simple. You may be able to pull the panel off to dry it out before replacing it or simply cut out and repair the exposed portion as you would a hole of the same size. Of course, repairing is only an option as long as the water damage is caught early and no mold or bulging is present on the drywall.


Damage that requires replacing drywall

Unfortunately, there are some instances that will require a full replacement. If the drywall panel is unstable or unsafe to keep, a repair or patch alone won’t solve the problem. If you’re seeing any of the below situations, replace your drywall completely to avoid costly renovations in the future.


Large cracks in your drywall, particularly around doors and windows, are an indicator that the panel is not properly placed. Improper placement leads to increased pressure on specific points on the wall, causing the drywall to crack and buckle over time. In this circumstance, you’ll have to pull out the whole panel and replace it (properly) with a new one.

Large or numerous holes

Gaping holes or a group of smaller holes can create structural damage, weakening the whole section of drywall. Simply repairing these holes won’t do, as the wall will eventually begin to buckle and crack. Typically, any hole larger than six inches in diameter is not a good candidate for a patch.

Extensive water damage

If water is present on a large portion of the panel, drying or repairing the panel is not an option, especially if the water damage wasn’t caught right away. Moisture softens and weakens drywall after only a couple of days of exposure, compromising the structural integrity of the wall. If you’re seeing discoloration, bubbling, or softer-looking areas, these are good indicators that extensive water damage is present.

Mold growth

When moisture is left on drywall for an extensive period of time, there’s a good chance it will lead to mold. Mold growth on drywall is a bit of a death sentence, and if it’s present on your walls, you need to pull out the drywall, clean up the source of the mold, and put up new drywall panels.

Drywall isn’t necessarily known for its strength and sturdiness, so cracks, holes, and dents are quite commonplace. Luckily, drywall is also inexpensive and easy to repair, so before you set up a full demolition, consider repairing the damage yourself. If the problems are minor enough, a quick repair kit or even a drywall spackle can mend your deformed wall.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
When you should (and shouldn’t) put used coffee grounds in your garden
Coffee grounds do have a place in your garden
coffee grounds mixed in the garden compost bin

Depending on how into gardening you are, you may be aware that putting used coffee grounds in your garden is a highly debated topic. Some people swear by using coffee grounds for growing plants, while others say it's the worst thing you can do for your garden.

So which opinion is correct, and how do you know which side to trust? How do you know if you should -- or shouldn’t -- put used coffee grounds in your garden? We’ve researched the pros and cons and broken them down below so you can decide if you want to use coffee grounds in the garden.
Should you use coffee grounds as mulch?
Using mulch in your garden can be beneficial, but many people find the cost of mulch too expensive to turn into organic matter. Straw and compost can be used as mulch, but not many people have tons of straw lying around, and compost takes months to create. So it seems as though coffee grounds would be the perfect solution for gardeners in need of mulch.

Read more
7 summer home improvement projects to hop on right now
These home improvement projects will help you get your house in order this summer
Exterior of light-colored house.

Summer is the season for DIY projects. But before you embark on your next wish list task, it’s a good idea to hop on some quick home maintenance projects. It’s easy to get too relaxed or lean into the need to have some fun as the warm weather arrives. You might think that you can put off these maintenance projects until next year. However, tackling them before starting something new will help ensure your property is in tip-top shape before the seasons change once again.

Below are seven of the best summer home improvement projects homeowners should evaluate and fix up if necessary.

Read more
4 things you should never bother to fix when selling your house
Here's what not to fix when selling your home to save you time and stress
Guy on ladder painting exterior of house.

So it's time to sell your home, and no doubt your head is spinning thinking about repairs, realtors, open houses, finding a new home, and more. Surely you don’t want to add unnecessary stressors to the mix of the chaos of selling your house.

To remove some items from your to-do list, learning what not to fix when selling a house can help. There are some things you can get away without fixing when selling your home — and the best part is, you won’t feel like you’re trying to pull a fast one on the homebuyers.
What makes a house unsellable?
It is important to think like a homebuyer when considering selling your house. If you notice something unsightly or damaged in a home you’re thinking about buying, other potential buyers probably will, too (unless you’re unusually picky). Only a handful of things make a house unsellable, and none of them fall into the "fix-it-real-quick-before-we-list-it" category.

Read more