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I was swinging a hammer in my attic and managed to knock out a chunk of drywall from the backside. I noticed most DIY drywall repair guides cover the scenario where drywall was punched in from the wall side, but in my case it was punched out from behind. Is there some way I could glue it back in place or something quick & easy, or do I just need to cut it out and do the standard repair?

View from the attic: View from the attic side

View from the ceiling: View from the ceiling

After the repair described in this answer: View after repair

Update: while the repair is imperfect, it's on a ceiling, and I'm totally comfortable with that result, considering the ease of the repair.

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    It is same the repair if you punch it in or out. I would cut to supporting wood and do the regular repair steps. A bigger repair is just as easy/or more easy than a tiny repair.
    – crip659
    Jul 19, 2023 at 21:47

3 Answers 3

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Since this is a ceiling and normally nobody should be banging on it, you might be able to get away with shoving some joint compound (think of it as glue) in there and pushing the piece back into place. It certainly won't hurt to try before doing a proper repair. Don't use too much or you'll have a hard time getting the flat part with torn paper to lie flat enough. Don't use spackle for the same reason.

Then go to the attic and add compound, paper tape and more compound for a little extra strength.

It's not the "proper" way to do it but it won't hurt to try first. Also consider that a better repair will probably leave you with trouble matching the existing paint texture.

If it still wasn't good enough, I wouldn't hesitate to just tape over the whole thing from the bottom side too, after sanding away anything that sticks out.

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Take one or two pieces off 2x4 and screw them onto trusses left and right.

That will give you a solid base to install drywall patch.

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    Typo fixed? Note that it isn't always necessary to anchor the supporting board to trusses; it can be legitimate to just bridge the hole with a couple of one-bys, put screws into them thru the surviving plasterboard to hold them in place, and fasten the patch piece to them with a few more screws. Tape/spackle/feather the edges into the old plaster so you don't see the joint, spackle over the screw heads, sand lightly, prime, paint.
    – keshlam
    Jul 20, 2023 at 0:40
  • @keshlam that sounds a lot like an answer in its own right ...
    – brhans
    Jul 20, 2023 at 2:13
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You have a hole in your drywall. It doesn't matter from which side the damage occurred, the repair is the same:

  • Neatly cut out a larger section of drywall, going from stud to stud (or joist to joist in your case, landing roughly 1/2 way on to each of the closest two joists
  • Make your cut as large as you'd like in the perpendicular-to-the-joist direction - large enough to remove the hole, not so large as to make the repair piece difficult to work with.
  • Cut a patch piece to fit in the hole. You have an advantage being able to work from the open attic above:
    • Cut a piece a fair bit larger than your hole
    • Have someone hold the patch up to the hole, completely covering it
    • You go into the attic and draw on the back side of the patch, exactly outlining the shape you need
    • Remember to adjust the lines you drew for the extra width from the side of the joist to the hole you're covering. If you don't your new patch will slip between the joists and you won't have anything to run your screws into.
    • Cut your patch just smaller than the lines you drew
  • Screw the patch into the joists
  • Tape/mud/finish to match

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