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A leaky roof caused water damage to an area of the ceiling approximately 3' x 4'. The ceiling also has a nearby crack that seems to follow a joint, bringing the total affected area to about 5' x 8'. The room itself is 13' x 16':

ceiling sketch

Is it reasonable to cut out an area of drywall that amounts to about 20% of the total area and patch it with a new sheet of drywall the way one would patch a smaller area? Is there anything that I should do differently for such a large repair? Finally, is this a project that a competent do-it-yourselfer can manage, or should I call a pro?

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Ues you can do it. What would be different is you need to cut the hole large enough so the edges hit the studs so you can re-screw in a new piece. A DIYer can do it for sure, but not all DIYers enjoy mudding sheetrock (I can do it, but hate it, and will hire it out whenever I can) –  DA01 Feb 22 '12 at 8:07
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The thing I dislike most about a job like this is attempting to blend the job in to the existing surface. Most wall/ceiling textures are extremely difficult to make look EXACTLY like the original. Much like trying to match paint colors, it's vastly preferable to just be able to redo the whole surface than try to blend into whatever was done 20 years ago. With a patch job of this relative size I would seriously consider doing just that. –  KeithS Feb 22 '12 at 22:59
    
@KeithS That's what had me most concerned. The ceiling is flat, no real texture, but the first coat of paint on a sheet of drywall has a different, less bumpy texture than the fifth coat. Will it help to just apply four or five coats of paint to the patch? I'd like to avoid taking down the entire ceiling if I can, but if that patch will be obvious then I may have to do that. Drywall and paint are cheap enough, but that'll make for a much bigger job. –  Caleb Feb 22 '12 at 23:14
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If there's no texture, it's generally easier to make the patch job blend in enough that you'll forget it was patched. The main trick will be matching ceiling paint colors; most ceiling paint is just plain bright white (or an off-white) to reflect light from the fixtures down around the room, but paint ages and loses its brilliant whiteness over time, and new paint that matches now will change over time. I would do exactly as you say - prime, then several coats of ceiling paint over the drywall - followed by a coat of the same color over the whole ceiling. –  KeithS Feb 22 '12 at 23:20
    
Thanks for the good advice, @KeithS. I plan to paint the whole room afterward, so matching the existing paint isn't a problem. –  Caleb Feb 24 '12 at 16:46
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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, this is certainly doable, but I guess an assistant would be very useful when handling pieces of drywall and attaching them to the ceiling.

What you essentially will have to do is remove the affected drywall (not necessary to remove entire sheets - if a sheet is only partially damaged you can cut the damaged part away and leave the unaffected part) and then patch the area. No major difference compared to a small area patch - you will have to replace the damaged material entirely from one closest stud to another, studs are separated with rather small distance.

This will constitute lots of tedious work and will be rather dirty but it is certainly doable by a DIYer.

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+1 You'll definitely want an assistant. –  uncle brad Feb 22 '12 at 15:57
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Or a drywall lift, if you can borrow one from a friend. (A rental is around $30-35 from HD, Lowes, or Robin Rents.) –  Doresoom Feb 22 '12 at 16:49
    
A lift is great if you're doing more than 3 or 4 pieces. I've tried using a deadman of my own construction and found that a friend on a ladder was more useful. If you're using the friend method the most useful thing you can have is a good screw chuck. –  uncle brad Feb 22 '12 at 18:51
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You can do it yourself. Since the ceiling has no texture, put in the patch, and spend some quality time mudding using the broadest knife you can manage. When you're happy with the appearance of the joints, and all is good and dry, prime the patch, then paint the entire ceiling, rather than trying to match the paint color. It won't be much more expensive than painting only the patch, but you'll be much happier with the result. Plan on two coats of a quality, relatively flat paint to make the patch disappear.

I second the idea of using a lift - your arms are going to be tired enough after the mudding and painting!

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Very helpful -- thanks! –  Caleb Sep 28 '12 at 12:02
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