Drywall Repair for My Dining Room Ceiling

My dining room is about to undergo a massive renovation, but before I get started with my grand plans – I have to make a drywall repair to the ceiling. Damaged sheetrock is going to have to be patched, primed and repainted.

Ceiling Drywall Repair: Completely My Fault…

Drywall (also known as gypsum board, wallboard or plasterboard) is, in essence, a panel made from gypsum plaster sandwiched between two sheets of paper. It’s also somewhat common to hear people refer to this as “sheetrock” (as I did above), though this isn’t really technically correct. “Sheetrock” is a brand of gypsum board, much like “Coke” is a brand of Cola. Still, though, it’s common to hear.

The sole source of damage to my ceiling was me; I was a little too rough when installing a new shower upstairs. I actually cracked the gypsum board from above when I pushed down on the shower drain trap. It’s a classic example of fixing one problem and causing another!

You can see a shot of the damage just below. I “scribed” the area surrounding the crack with my razor knife as I’m going to remove the outer paper as I get started with the drywall repair. For now, though, it also serves to make the affected area very easy to see in the photo…

Damaged Gypsum Board Ceiling Repair

Drywall Repair Materials

For very localized/small drywall repairs, there are convenient drywall repair patches you can buy; these are well-worth the cost, in my opinion. In total, there were just a few key drywall repair items that are needed for this job; these are illustrated, described and Amazon-linked throughout this section.

Drywall Repair Materials

Item 1: A Drywall Repair Patch

A 4-inch by 4-inch drywall repair patch was perfect for my damaged area, and I really liked the aluminum construction from this manufacturer as this patch would be supporting the weight of some gypsum plaster horizontally on the ceiling. If the patch was to be used on a wall, there would be less need for strength. I’ve used softer (non-metallic) patches on vertical walls in the past as well.

Item 2: Fresh Joint Compound

Once the drywall repair patch is in place, we’re going to need to apply a few coats of joint compound to blend this into the ceiling. If you have some joint compound at home that’s been in your basement for 2 years, toss that. (Sometimes I’ve even seen old joint compound get moldy.) Buy some fresh joint compound.

Item 3: Oil-Based Primer

In addition to my cracked drywall area, I also had another nearby part of the ceiling that got stained from a small water leak. (This is how we discovered the shower problem earlier, in fact. That wasn’t a good day – but that’s another story entirely.) With stains like this, you need to seal that in such a way that prevents the stain from bleeding back through after repainting: I find it’s always best to go with a high-quality oil-based primer.

Preparing the Damaged Gypsum Board

Okay, let’s now prepare the damaged area. The first thing I did was remove the outer sheet of paper from the drywall previously scribed it carefully with my razor knife. I have to make sure this is not “bowed out” in any way before I apply the patch. In fact, I’d like it to be slightly concave or “bowed in” so I give it a few careful shots with the back of my razor knife as well…

Preparing the Damaged Ceiling Drywall

Once I’m happy with this (striving not to cause too much plaster crumpling), I sand out the edges as smoothly as I can.

Preparing for the Ceiling Drywall Repair

Then, I give the entire drywall repair area a little dusting with a clean, dry cloth.

Bringing us to: “How to Fix a Hole in the Wall”

Everything shown here can be equally applied to wall damage as well, of course. In fact, it’s much more common to have localized damage (usually holes) on walls than ceilings.

Since I now have everything fully prepared, I take my patch and position it carefully over the drywall area as shown. There’s adhesive on the back of the patch, so it will stay nicely in place as you prepare to begin the joint compound work that will follow.

How to Patch Drywall

How to Fix a Hole in the Wall

Application of joint compound (sometimes called “spackle”) is frankly an art form. I’m not an artist here, and I have great respect for people who can do this “effortlessly.”

Some key things to know:

1) You should have a couple of clean drywall taping knives. I usually apply my joint compound with a 2 or 3-inch knife, then spread it carefully with an 8-inch or larger knife. Keep your knives meticulously clean and have a rag or roll of paper towels nearby as you work.

2) You’re not going to do this once; you’re going to apply several coats of joint compound. Don’t try to get complete perfection with your first coat – just essential smooth coverage. Then you let it dry for several hours (or a day).

3) Once dry, sand it smooth with a fine grit sandpaper. Then apply another coat the same way – and repeat this process as necessary, striving for more and more perfection. I usually end up doing three coats over three separate days. Don’t rush this – you’ll be done when you’re done.

4) When I have the last coat applied and it looks nearly perfect, I sometimes use a damp sponge to get the edges even smoother. Naturally, if you sand (or use the sponge) just a little too much, you’ll need to apply another coat. So, be careful and stay patient.

Spackling over the Drywall Patch

In the above photo, you can see my dog. My wife loves to photograph the dog. The back of my head and the drywall repair spackling are mostly incidental! :-)

I took the following shot as well right after application of the second coat…

Spackle the Drywall Patch in Iterations

Once you’re happy with your joint compound – it really looks like it blends nicely into your ceiling and there are no signs of the drywall repair patch underneath, you’re ready to repaint. For me, I chose to prime first as I had the other water stain as well.

The priming might be overkill for many sheetrock patches, especially if you have the original paint. But since I’m planning on renovating the entire dining room – this made perfect sense for me.

Once the primer fully dries, the ceiling is painted.

You can see in the shot below that the paint over “primed” areas doesn’t necessarily dry as quickly as the paint of the rest of the ceiling.

Oil Based Primer for Water Stain Areas

When the ceiling paint is completely dry, though, you can see the final ceiling below:

The Final Ceiling Drywall Repair After Painting

I’m pretty happy with this drywall repair overall.

And I’m ready to move onto the core of the dining room now: fluted casings, crown moldings, chair rail, wall frames (aka; “shadow boxes“) and maybe even a faux finish if I can figure out how to do that. I’m not 100% sure yet.

But that hole and stain on the ceiling? Those surely had to go first!

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  1. Thanks, really informative post. You explained everything step by step for a Gypsum Ceiling. I really like your post.

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