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I just purchased a home in the US built in 1965 and when we removed a piece of plywood we were told covered up the access to the pipes we actually found a huge (32 in x 48 in) hole in the wall.

I'm not 100% sure what we are looking at but the thickness of one side of the hole is a little more than 3/4in and the thickness on the other side of the hole is an inch. It look like there is a backing material that looks like drywall and then something over top of this. As far as I can learn from my google searches this might be plaster over drywall but I'm not 100% sure and I haven't been able to find any information on repairing this. Any suggestions.

Side view (sorry for the quality):

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Back view:

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Update Here is a zoomed out picture of the whole hole. The first picture is of the right side edge of the hole.

enter image description here

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That's not very clear. Can you provide a zoomed out image to get an overall picture? I don't see that I am looking at a hole – Matt Jul 23 '14 at 3:34
Just a hunch, but I'm thinking that whoever told you this was "the access to the pipes" was full of it. – Comintern Jul 24 '14 at 1:13
I have the same bizarre wall construction in my 1955 house. It's plaster on gypsum lath, which was sold under the trade name Rocklath. It's like drywall, but comes in much smaller sheets (see the seam in your second photo) and is full of holes. – ArgentoSapiens Jul 24 '14 at 17:49
up vote 2 down vote accepted

That looks suspiciously like somebody decided to cut a door through the wall and either gave up or decided it was too much work. The wall construction looks like veneer plaster, which would fit with the age of the house.

Whatever method you decide to use, you're going to have to get some more framing in there. You at very least would need to replace the stud in the middle that was cut off and either cut back far enough that you can hit a stud on either side of the hole (the option I'd go with), or put in enough blocking that you have solid edges. I'd just use sheet rock for the patch and shim it out so it is flush with the rest of the wall surface.

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Agree on backing support and drywall backfill. I would leave it slightly depressed from main surface (1/8 to 1/4) and do a first skim coat with hot mud (setting joint compound) to flush. When firm, topping or general purpose premixed joint compound to overcoat both patch and existing wall. – HerrBag Jul 24 '14 at 1:28
What would you suggest we shim the sheet rock out with? – Scott Keck-Warren Jul 24 '14 at 2:07
Depending on whether you use 5/8" or 1/2" sheet rock, you're looking at 1/2" to 3/4" to make up. I'd use strips of thin plywood (thicker or thinner depending on whether you go with the suggestion @HerrBag had for surfacing. – Comintern Jul 24 '14 at 2:23

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