March 16, 2022

SOLVED: How to Repair Drywall Water Damage

While water may be liquid life for our human bodies, unfortunately, it can be downright destructive to our home interiors. When water sits with the drywall of your home’s walls or ceilings, it can not only be unattractive but can also cause extensive and expensive damage.

With the right knowledge and tools, you can repair drywall water damage if you catch the problem early enough. Follow Onsite Restoration’s step-by-step guide to patch up water damaged walls in your home.

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Step 1: Locate the Leak

If you’re lucky, it will be easy to pinpoint the water leaking either behind your walls or onto the ceiling. The drywall may show obvious signs of moisture, dripping liquid, or failing structural integrity. The ceiling panels may sag or start to crumble from the dense weight of absorbing too much water. You may also see coffee-colored stains that slowly expand over time.

While it may be a nuisance to uncover the source of the leak, it is essential to get to the root of the problem or you risk wasting time doing repairs that will ultimately be for nothing as more water leaks in. It may be difficult to locate, especially if it’s coming from the roof, a broken pipe, or a leaking water appliance. Water can travel far from the source and end up in unobvious spaces, so it may require professional help to find.

Never climb onto a roof or into areas that may be structurally unsound due to damage without the help of a professional. You not only run the risk of injuring yourself but also possibly encountering mold. Depending on how long the water damage has been present, there may be highly toxic mold that can make you very sick.

Fortunately, our pros at Onsite Restoration have the tools and protective equipment to handle structural damage and the presence of toxic matter. Call our team at (813) 579-5789 today to schedule your inspection and repair!

Step 2: Remove Damaged Drywall

Before getting to work, lay down tarp to catch drywall, dust, and other debris. Not only will this make cleaning up easier but it will protect the rest of your home from debris and potential mold.

We suggest wearing a mask, goggles, and gloves since you will likely encounter material that may irritate your eyes, throat, and skin. Use a hammer or wrecking bar and get to work digging out damaged pieces. If the drywall panels show water stains but still are structurally intact, you can simply cut out the damaged area with a keyhole saw.

Always wear protective gear when undertaking drywall patch jobs to keep yourself safe from harmful debris.

Step 3: Patch Drywall

The size of the affected area will impact the method you use to repair drywall water damage.

Patches Under 6 Inches

If you simply cut out a rectangular shape as described in step 2 because your wall didn’t face structural damage, use those dimensions to cut a replacement piece that is 2” longer and wider than the hole. With this new piece of drywall laying backside up on a flat surface, mark 4 pencil lines 1” into each edge.

Cut through the backside paper and drywall gypsum using a straight edge and utility knife, but leave the front-facing layer untouched. Peel away the backside paper and gypsum layer, but avoid tearing the front-facing piece.

Apply a thin layer of joint compound around the hole’s edges and place the patch in. With a putty knife, press the paper edge into the joint compound and allow it to dry. Lightly sand the edges down with fine-grit sandpaper and top it with another coat of joint compound.

Patches Between 6 and 12 Inches

Holes between 6 and 12 inches wide will require more support and, therefore, a different process. Cut out the replacement piece as previously described. Drill two small holes through this new piece of drywall and feed a piece of twine through, tying both ends to the middle of a stick. There should be approximately 8 inches of string between the board and stick.

This stick, on the front side, will act as structural support to hold the patch in position. Twist it to begin adding pressure that will help steady it in the hole. After applying cement adhesive to the edges, insert the patch into the hole so that the adhesive firmly sticks to the edges on the backside of the wall. Continue twisting the stick to increase the pressure and hold it in place until the adhesive is dry.

After allowing the cement adhesive to thoroughly dry, fill with joint compound and then sand down.

Insert the replacement board through the hole at an angle so it properly fits.

Patches Larger Than 12 Inches

Damaged drywall bigger than 12” will likely need a replacement panel installed because it will need to be anchored to the wall or ceiling. The damaged area may be in a location where it is possible to attach it to an existing stud. Otherwise, you will have to replace the entire panel. This is a much bigger job that is likely better off left to the professionals.

If you’re still determined to DIY, first remove the damaged drywall down to the studs in its entirety. Use a power drill to remove any screws that were attaching the old drywall to the studs. If there is extensive damage, this shouldn’t be too big of a challenge.

Cut out the new patch as previously described and use drywall screws and a power driver to attach the panel to the studs. Cover the seams of the panel with joint tape and apply compound over the tape. You will likely have to coat several layers of joint compound, so ensure you let it dry completely between layers. Sand down until the seams blend together.

Learn More > Restore Your Floors

Step 4: Prime and Paint

Once you’ve patched the hole, you need to blend the job in with the rest of your wall or ceiling to avoid the repair looking like an unsightly band-aid.

With a large paintbrush or roller applicator, first apply a layer of primer. Then, touch up with the same paint color already in the room, using a zigzag pattern to blend the paint cleanly.

Step 5: Clean Up Time

A shop vacuum can make it easier to clean up dust and debris. Pick up any tarps used and seal paint cans, ensuring not to spill anything. Clean brushes and roller covers with soap and warm water.

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Patch Up Water Damage with Professional Ease

While we believe you’re fully capable of completing a patch job on your own, extensive water damage may require professional help to prevent any feature issues. The last thing you want is to invest tons of time and money into a project only for the problem to recur.

If your home is suffering from water damage, let our team make your life easier. Request a consultation today for your Tampa area home.