Repairing a Big 'Ole Hole in the Wall

Months ago with the help of my dad we properly grounded an outlet in the kitchen that had failed our initial home inspection. It took us months to get to the project because the junction box leading to the outlet was hidden behind drywall. I'm pretty sure that violates code everywhere, and even if it doesn't it's a huge PIA when someone down the line tries to make a change or in this case, fix what wasn't done properly in the first place. It literally took days of searching, moving the stove, drilling test holes just large enough to stick a tiny mirror in, etc. until we finally bit the bullet and cut a hole in wall of the hallway behind the kitchen wall where the outlet was located. Thankfully we found the hidden junction box, but unfortunately we were left with a big hole to repair.
We did our best to smooth out the edges of the hole and then carefully measured the width and height of the hole, noting the size of the space taken by the new outlet serving as our junction box. Then we cut a piece of drywall (available at the Depot in a 2'x2' patch-friendly size) to fit the hole.
Using drywall screws, screw the big patch into place, making sure that you've noted where the studs are are staying VERY clear of any wires. You'll see in the first photo that we put a metal plate in front of where a previous electrician ran a few wires through a stud to protect them from anyone drilling around here in the future.
Get your supplies together; you'll need drywall joint tape, premixed joint compound and a 2-3" spackling knife.
Apply drywall tape along the seam between the wall and the patch to give your joint compound something to adhere to. We used this, from the Depot:
Using a 2 - 3" spackling knife glop on some joint compound, smoothing from the seam to the wall and from the seam onto the patch. You'll want to cover the weave of the joint tape, but not have huge globs of joint compound on the wall. Keep in mind you'll need to sand the whole area down and sanding makes a mess, so less is more. Huge globs:
Huge globs smoothed out to minimize the sanding later:
When the joint compound is fully dry, lightly sand the entire area all the way out onto the walls and into the patch. Sanding is incredibly messy. I usually use the back side of a damp, well squeezed-out scrubbing sponge (ya know, the kind from the kitchen sink that has a sponge on one side and a scrubby side on the other), which does a great job at keeping down the dust. If you're not afraid of a ton of dust that permeates everything, then go ahead and use a sanding block.
If the wall-to-patch seam isn't as smooth as you would like it to be after sanding, go ahead and repeat the previous steps to get a nice smooth and seamless patch before pulling out the touch-up paint.
Paint the whole area, making sure to go much further beyond the patch to help integrate the new paint with the older paint. If it's been a while since you first painted the area the color may not match anymore and you may have to paint the entire wall. Bummer. It's been less than a year since we painted this wall so we were able to get away with just painting the lower portion and kind of whiskering the paint along the far edges of the painted area.
I took this photo when the paint was still wet, so you can still see the patched area. Our plaster walls are a tad thicker than the drywall available at the depot so we had to build out the area a touch to make the patch work. In a newer home, the stock sized patches would fit the thickness of the wall right off the shelf. Like I've said over and over, nothing fits our 1941 house (nothing including my clothes in the closets)!

While I had the joint compound out, I also patched up a few holes in our bedroom walls.
They were leftover from when we hung long white curtains only to realize that the room is too small for long flowy curtains and I risked ripping them from the wall every time I squeezed past them on my way to my side of the bed. See, I told you it's hard to find stuff to fit our 1941 house!

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  1. Just found your blog, and I'm loving it. What a wonderful house you have. Lookign forward to seeing it progress!

  2. Thanks, Kate. I'm so happy to stopped by!

  3. nice work! we replaced a bathroom exhaust fan and are in the process of fixing the hole in the ceiling--it's a messy job!

    we used to watch This Old House a lot, and I remember an episode where Tom SIlva said it's easier to cut your patch piece a little bigger than your hole, then trace the shape of the patch piece and do the cutting on the wall, rather than trying to cut the patch to fit the existing hole. Boy, that's hard to describe, but it really is easier!

  4. Carole, that's a good idea, much easier than trying to take 500 measurements to get the patch just right. This Old House was one of my favorite shows as a kid before the entire HGTV network hit the scene and won my heart :)


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