5 FAQs About Drywall Repair or Replacement

Photo: Daniel M. Hendricks/flickrDrywall is a very handy material. Inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to use, it's revolutionized the home building and remodeling industry. However, drywall (also called Sheetrock, Gyproc, or plasterboard) is not the toughest substance known to humankind. It's prone to scratches, dents, cracks, holes, and water damage. In other cases, you may have to cut out part of the drywall to access your home's electrical wiring or insulation. The good news is that as a rule, none of these problems is overly complicated to fix. Find out more about drywall repair via the following 5 FAQs.

1. Q. Is it better to repair drywall as a DIY project or hire someone to do it?

A. If you already have all the necessary tools on hand and you are an enthusiastic DIYer, you could certainly take on the repair yourself. On the other hand, you may prefer to save time and hassle by turning the job over to a nearby drywall contractor

2. Q. What tools and supplies will I need to tackle the repair work myself?

A. You will need some or all of these tools:

  • drywall saw
  • drill
  • electronic stud finder
  • flexible knives
  • hacksaw
  • hammer
  • hand sander
  • inside corner knife
  • ladder
  • level
  • pry bar
  • sanding sponge
  • screwdriver
  • tape measure
  • utility knife

In addition, you should plan on purchasing fresh drywall for patching, drywall tape, drywall nails and screws, and joint compound. Spray-on elastic crack coating can be useful too.

There are also complete drywall repair kits on the market, as well as patches which are ready-cut in sizes from 4"x4" up to 8"x8" or shaped to fit around electric outlets or sprinkler heads. Check with your local hardware store or home center.

3. Q. How much does professional drywall repair cost?

A. When you hire a pro to tackle the job, initial drywall installation costs are fairly predictable, with an average range from approximately $1.50-2.00 per square foot, and you'll pay about the same for replacement (not including the cost of removing damaged materials). However, the cost to repair drywall will vary depending on the extent and nature of the problem. The price will be based on the number of man-hours and the supplies required.

4. Q. Should I have my damaged drywall repaired or go for complete replacement?

A. Once again, the answer is a decisive "it depends." A small crack or minor damage such as "nail pops" -- meaning nail heads that have pulled away from the wall studs and are popping through the drywall -- is fast and simple to repair. In the case of a large hole or a serious problem like heavy mold infestation, where the spores may have spread throughout the drywall, replacement is usually the best option. (And be sure to clear up the source of that mold while you're at it! If not, you'll just end up with more damaged drywall.)

5. Q. Can damaged drywall be recycled, once it's removed?

A. Yes, it usually can. You may have to do some detective work to find a recycling transfer station in your area that will accept it, though, especially if it contains asbestos. However, moldy drywall cannot be recycled and should be handled with care. Wear rubber gloves, eye goggles, and a respirator during removal. Then dispose of it in well-sealed plastic bags.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

Updated April 15, 2018.

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