Apologies in advance for the uninformed question. I made very little headway researching this specific application.

Brand new to drywall, but looking to learn. I removed a set of hanging kitchen cabinets from this ceiling drywall soffit/bulkhead (not quite sure what the correct terminology is here), leaving what is quite clearly a busted drywall seam with the tiniest piece of tape.

Bottom-up view of square drywall box jutting out of ceiling with two recessed lights and a seam running down the center.

I may want to reposition the now-off-centered lights, but my main question is this:

  1. What's the correct way to fix this? Should I be replacing drywall to the ends of the box or should I be cutting out the mangled portion and creating a drywall patch, then mudding over?
  2. Apart from electrical wires for the lights, can I assume this box is empty? The cabinet was mounted with long bolts, but not nearly long enough to reach ceiling joists. (Can drywall really safely hold 100+ pounds like that or should I expect some other structure up there?)

Thanks for any and all thoughts or pointers.

Bonus picture showing depth of drywall box:

Side view of drywall box. Outer drywall is popcorn green.

1 Answer 1


Pull out the lights and stick a flashlight in to see what you have. There will be some kind of structure to support the drywall.

You would not use "long bolts" in a situation like this unless these were part of an expanding anchor or toggle bolt. Depending on the size, they can hold upwards of 75 lbs. There appears to be something like that on the underside of the bulkhead on the left hand side in the top picture. The Cabinet would also be anchored into the adjoining wall to distribute some of the load. In this case, the anchor is used to prevent pivoting of the cabinet.

If you are not moving the lights, patching and mudding over would be enough. It will get more tricky if you do decide to move the lights as you would have to work around the joint depending where the holes are drilled for the relocated pot lights and the fastening system used by the pot lights to properly seat them against the drywall.

  • Thanks for the answer! The bolts I removed were closer to six inch lag bolts, and they were only screwed into the top drywall. Based on your response, sounds like it might've been a DIY job. I didn't consider moving the lights would center them on that joint. Would I be asking for trouble if I cut out to the edges of the bulkhead and replaced with a single solid piece of drywall? If I patched, would drywall tape suffice or would you carve out a strip to insert something like a California patch? Thanks for your help!
    – sheng
    Commented Mar 13 at 14:13
  • Replacing the drywall would be my personal preference. You would only need to seal the corner joints and the nail heads. Patching would require the same amount of work but, well, it would still be a patch, require tapering out to make it appear smooth and complicates things if you decided to relocate the lights, leading to additional patches. Commented Mar 13 at 15:53
  • On the other hand, patching alone means only one surface to mess with. If you go full panel, you’re replacing corner bead and skimming/painting the vertical surfaces. Commented Mar 13 at 19:03
  • Thanks, all! Sounds like a drawn-out weekend project. Will pop out the lights and go from there.
    – sheng
    Commented Mar 14 at 15:51

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