We recently had an asbestos abatement crew remove heating ducts in our house that had asbestos-lined duct insulation. Part of the process required them to remove the duct registers in the wall as well.

The result is that I have sections like this in almost every room in the house:

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Yikes. What's the procedure for repairing drywall like this?

I was thinking of doing something similar to Niall's recommendation here. Basically cut back some extra drywall on the sides so there's room on all of the studs (which would also have the benefit of removing the damaged sides... then put in a cross support between the studs and screw the drywall to all sides and the cross support. Then mud/tape as usual.

Is there a better way to do this? Keep in mind that I'm a beginner and need to do this procedure multiple times.

I should also mention that we're not planning to add the registers back at this time... it'll be several years before we get a new furnace anyway. We just want to repair the drywall and make it look like the hole was never there.


  • 1
    Are the holes the typical size for heating registers -- 4"x12", give or take? It's hard to tell from the picture.
    – Niall C.
    Oct 26, 2010 at 16:28
  • 1
    Your plan sounds good, if you did not want to a cut any more drywall away from the studs on the left and right you could just add 2x4s on each side to give you an edge. However looking at the picture if looks like you will want to clean up those edges anyway.
    – auujay
    Oct 26, 2010 at 19:01
  • @Niall The picture makes it look larger than it really is. You're correct... the registers are about 4 x 12 and the width of the hole is roughly 16 inches.
    – Mike B
    Oct 26, 2010 at 22:06

2 Answers 2


Personally, I would just build a rectangle out of 2x4s slightly smaller than the hole, lower it into the hole flush with the existing framing, then screw it to the existing framing. That will give you a nice surface to attach your new drywall to. Depending on the size of the hole, you might want a cross member in the box as well so your drywall isn't spanning too big of a hole unsupported.

As for cutting back the existing drywall - I wouldn't bother with that for a couple reasons:

First, you're likely to run into issues with the nails or screws that were used to originally attach the drywall to that framing. If you cut around those, then the old drywall isn't going to have a very secure connection to the framing unless it was glued. And if it was glued, then you have the problem of the glue residue getting in the way of the new piece you want to put on.

Second, the damaged areas of the drywall are well within the areas that you'll need to mud over anyways - figure on mudding out at least 6-12 inches on either side of the joint. So you're really not saving yourself any work by cleaning that up.

  • Thanks! I have a few other questions: What side should be exposed for the 2x4's? I'm assuming that all 2x4s should have their smaller edge side facing out correct? 2) How should I screw in horizontal 2x4s? Brackets? Diagonal screws? 3) What type of screws should I use for attaching the 2x4's themselves? How long shouldthe screws be? 4) What type of 2x4's should I use? Treated? Untreated?
    – Mike B
    Oct 26, 2010 at 22:04
  • 1
    @MikeB - Yes, edge side out. To attach them, just go through the side of the 2x4 and into the joist. Any kind of 2.5 or 3" woodscrews should work perfectly fine both for assembling the box and for attaching it to the existing framing. Untreated wood is fine as well. Oct 27, 2010 at 12:30
  • I agree with Eric that cutting back the drywall probably doesn't buy you much, but I always go along the edge with a razor blade and at least clean up the ragged paper, and give myself a smoother surface to work with later. Nov 25, 2010 at 18:27

Your approach sounds good to me, but I just hung my first piece of drywall last week. I don't know how big the hole has to be to require adding a cross stud to support the drywall, but maybe you don't even need that?

  • 1
    You do want a piece of wood at the top and bottom to screw into. This will give a solid support under the non-factory edge so it does not crack later after you have finished over the seam.
    – auujay
    Oct 26, 2010 at 18:59
  • 2
    Typically studs are hung every 16 inches. Your hole is probably 16 inches wide, so banging up verticals against the studs would cover you in that direction. You will need horizontals at the top and bottom, and that dimension from the photo appears to be about 20-24 inches. I would bang up a horizontal after I've framed every hole in the house, if I have material left over, but I wouldn't make another run to the lumberyard if I ran out. Oct 26, 2010 at 19:44

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