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I am preparing to repaint a wall after trying to patch up way too many holes and dents caused by errant golf balls.

I've gotten most of them to where they're very difficult to see or feel unless you're really trying from up close.

Except there's one hole that I have been unable to fix with just spackle and sanding. It's about ¾in and was surrounded by some torn dry wall paper that I've scraped off so it's smooth at the immediate edges.

  1. Is this fixable with just spackle or do I need to cut out that part and replace it? I'm attempting to put some drywall tape in the hole, spackling over it, applying primer, then another coat of spackle, and then sanding. Does this have any chance of success? Or is there a better way?

  2. How perfect does the repair need to be before I should apply the paint? For example, should faint outlines, sort of like what you can see in the right side of the picture pre-sanding, be okay?

enter image description here

Update: Came out really well in the end. In retrospect it may have been easier to use joint compound or a different technique better suited for larger holes. But what I did:

  1. Stuck a ball of mesh tape in hole
  2. Three layers of spackle, the first just to cover the hole and fill in the space left by torn dry wall paper (pictured), the second was to cover it and blend the creases in with surrounding the wall, the third is probably unnecessary if you're skilled at the application and sanding process, but for me, was to fill in some uneven spots
  3. Primer
  4. Paint

I would also have benefited from a 6-inch putty knife, I was using a 4-inch one and this led to uneven surfaces -> over-sanding -> trying to fix with more spackle / death spiral.

Lastly, if you aren't go to paint over it, a different method is probably preferable.

Second Patch: enter image description here

End Result, zoomed in, hi contrast: enter image description here

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  • Unclear what you mean by "spackle" here. What I know as spackle is only good for small holes, maybe 1/2" or smaller. Larger holes need something like joint compound, which you may need to layer if you're using the drying type, as it will crack if laid on thick (so you lay on a thick layer, then cover the cracks with a thin layer).
    – Huesmann
    May 18, 2023 at 13:11
  • Yeah, I'm using spackle as in the stuff for smaller holes. It seemed like kind of an edge case which is why I decided to ask in here — ¾ inches with the torn paper. Most of the other holes were smaller, and wanted to see if it could be done without another trip to the Home Depot. May 18, 2023 at 13:22
  • IME spackle is more frangible than even drying joint compound. You might have better luck cutting a plug out of some material—piece of loose drywall, a piece of wood—and jamming it in the hole to about 5/16" depth, and using your spackle over that.
    – Huesmann
    May 18, 2023 at 13:25
  • That looks a lot larger than 3/4". If that's really all it is my answer is overkill.
    – isherwood
    May 18, 2023 at 13:26
  • Yeah, that picture made it look bigger than it actually is. 3rd coat of spackle just dried and it looks like it should be good after sanding. May 18, 2023 at 14:09

2 Answers 2

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Your treatment of the torn paper looks good.

You should sand between layers of filler.

Keep adding filler and sanding until you can't feel the patch with your bare fingertips.

That mess on the right needs more filler at the top, but sand it first.

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Note: This answer assumed a larger hole than what we apparently have here. I recommend it for patches (exposed gypsum with missing paper) of over 1 inch.


Joint tape goes over the hole, not in it. The right solution is to skim the hole to fill it, lay tape over the hole so it laps the undamaged drywall, and let that dry. A deep patch may take more than a day. Be sure to apply compound under the entire tape area, but it should be thin so as not to create humps. I recommend paper tape rather than mesh tape. Mesh can be difficult to cover effectively.

After that, skim again to hide the tape and fill the dimple formed as the compound shrinks. Repeat until you have a smooth, widely-tapered repair. There should be very little sanding required.

This type of repair calls for a 6" knife minimum. I'd use a 10" or 12" knife.

How perfect? Perfect. You should not be able to see or feel imperfections. With good technique this is not difficult at all for such a small repair. Press firmly with the knife so it flexes against the wall. Use a circular path to follow the shape of the hole. If done properly the only sanding required is for very tiny bumps and edges. Use long, light strokes to achieve a flat finish. Too much pressure will result in waviness.

Here's a good example of the expected outcome even for your small repair. To finish it to perfection, use a damp cloth to scrub away the extreme outer edge of the compound area, blending it with the paint texture.

enter image description here

Source

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    Learning the hard way on knife. 4inches plastic not sufficient. May 18, 2023 at 13:10
  • It can be done, but it's more challenging. :)
    – isherwood
    May 18, 2023 at 13:12
  • But a question re tape, I got the tape in the hole idea from some yt tutorial, but initially had tried to tape over the hole, and the tape was always visible on the edges and produced a very noticeable bump, how can I get it perfectly flat and smooth when fairly thick tape is on top of wall? Trying to sand it down always caused the tape to become visible for me. May 18, 2023 at 13:18
  • "... widely-tapered ...". Thin compound, under the tape, a bit more over it. Only as much as necessary.
    – isherwood
    May 18, 2023 at 13:24
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    @user8340913 Mesh tape has thickness so you have to build up a lot to hide it. Paper tape goes on thin and smooth. Mesh also lets the compound through so if you're going the way of just stuffing it in the hole then that's the better thing to use in that situation. May 19, 2023 at 13:35

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