How to Mend Cracks, Holes, & Dents in a Wall Before Painting

ECOS 09/16/2016

Unless your house is brand new, your walls have probably seen a fair share of abuse through the years. And if not abuse, at least some normal wear and tear – like holes from hanging pictures and a few inevitable cracks. If you're about to slap on a fresh coat of non-toxic paint, filling in and hiding all these imperfections is going to make your new paint job look more professional, and make you much happier with the room’s appearance. We’re going to show you how to mend cracks, holes, and dents in a wall before painting so every time you paint a room, you get top-notch results!

#1 How to Use Spackle to Fill in the Small Nail Holes

Here's a very short video demonstrating how incredibly easy this is to do. You don’t even need to use any tools! Your finger can get the job done – no problem. After you've filled all the nail holes, you can paint over them immediately. You need to prime these little spots, or you can use your paint as a primer by first painting over the spots, letting them dry and then rolling out the wall like you normally would. This is called spot priming, and you shouldn’t be able to see where the nail holes were when you're finished painting!

#2 How to Repair Wall Cracks

  1. Use a stiff putty knife to scrape the wall around the crack. You want to try to get rid of any peeling paint or small pieces of plaster that may fall off.
  2. Now use the sharp point of the knife to cut into the crack.
  3. Use a caulk gun to apply caulk (make sure it is paintable) into the crack. Smooth it out with your finger and remove excess. Let the caulk dry.
  4. Cut a piece of fiberglass mesh tape a bit longer than the crack. The tape is slightly sticky, so it will stay on the wall. Place it over the crack.
  5. Use a six-inch flexible joint knife (putty knife or drywall blade is another name for this) and apply joint compound over the tape and a few inches beyond it. Smooth this out as well as you can by applying pressure and running your blade over the tape removing excess joint compound. This will take multiple swipes across the cracked area. You should have a minimum of small ridges in the wet joint compound. If you have big ridges sticking out then you need to remove more excess joint compound. This is a little hard to explain but the video shows you how to do this.
  6. Let the joint compound dry. (You'll see it change color to a lighter gray.)
  7. We recommend wearing a good dust mask, but if you're just doing one small crack, you can decide if you want to. The dust from sanding joint compound is very fine so you could breathe it in.
  8. Lightly sand over the area with medium grit sandpaper. A sanding sponge works great for this.
  9. Apply a second coat of joint compound (also known as mud).
  10. Let dry.
  11. Sand.
  12. Wipe with a wet cloth or sponge to remove dust.
  13. Prime.
  14. Paint.

#3 How to Patch a Hole in the Wall

We included the video below because of its simplicity, but we recommend doing a few things a bit differently. Patching a hole really isn’t all that different than using joint compound (mud) to repair a crack. If you took care of your cracks yourself, you can definitely handle fixing a hole.
  1. Purchase an aluminum mesh patching kit at a hardware store.
  2. Put the metal mesh patch over the hole.
  3. Apply the mud about three inches past the edges of the patch.
  4. Remove the excess mud leaving the area as smooth as you can.
  5. It's fine if you can see the aluminum patch through the mud. You want the layers to be very thin, and you'll be doing at least one more, possibly two.
  6. Again, we recommend wearing a good dust mask, but if you're just doing one small patch, you can decide if you want to. The dust from sanding joint compound is very fine, so you could easily breathe it in.
  7. Lightly sand when dry.
  8. Apply another coat of mud.
  9. Lightly sand when dry.
  10. If you can’t feel the metal patch when you run your hand over the area, you're done. Otherwise, apply another coat and sand when dry.
  11. Apply primer.
  12. Paint.

How About Dents?

  1. Simply apply joint compound with a putty knife over the dent so that the mud is filling in the dent and is flush with the wall.
  2. Sand lightly when dry.
  3. If you can't feel the dent when you rub your hand lightly over the wall, then you're finished. If there's still a small dent then apply another coat of mud.
  4. Apply primer.
  5. Paint.

Congratulations! Learning how to do these simple wall repairs will be a valuable skill throughout your life because homes require nearly constant maintenance and anything you can do on your own will save you money. We think that with a little practice almost anyone, even those of you who are certifiably unhandy, can master these skills. Good luck with your first attempt and let us know in the comments if this post helped you mend some cracks, holes, and dents all by yourself!

CATEGORIES DIY home repair|DIY wall painting prep|household DIY wall repair|painting prep|wall repair