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Repairing drywall like a BOSS, a little video and a touch of time travel

Um, pretend like the last post didn’t happen yet for a minute. Pretend like you didn’t already see the ceiling of my closet painted and finished:
Blush ceiling color
Because today we’re blogging backward and rewinding a bit. I seriously don’t know what kind of operation we’re running around here… blogging the middle of things before earlier things. Where are the grownups in charge?!

This is what the closet ceiling looked like when we started this project: a rich, decadent popcorn ceiling texture, offset by the soft, glowing light of a fluorescent fixture. #Luxury
Closet ceiling -- before
There’s nothing more soothing and uplifting than accidentally catching a glimpse of yourself mid-outfit-change in the floor-length mirror with all your “stuff” bathed in fluorescent light. (Shield your eyes!) That light had to GO.

But if you’re adding a chandelier, it needs to be centered in the room. And if you’re moving the electrical box, you have to patch the old hole, and if you’re patching the old hole, you can’t just cover it with more popcorn texture. Because that’s breaking The Hippocratic Oath of DIYing: First Do No Harm. By Never Adding Popcorn Texture to Anything.

So we had to remove the popcorn in order to add a chandy. We scraped the ceilings in our entire house when we first moved in, but we neglected the closets. I did a whole post on how to remove popcorn ceilings here. If you’re looking to do the same thing, that’s a good step-by-step, but this time we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to create a video to demonstrate how easy it really is.

The kids had just woken up from their naps while we were doing this, so they have messy hair and are noisy. Welcome to my life.

“I don’t know how to clean… things…” That cracks me up every time. Me neither, bud. Me neither.

With the ceilings scraped and fresh, and the electrical box moved to the center of the room (which was pretty quick and simple, because Andy could attack it from the attic above), it was time to patch the old hole.
Scraped ceilings
If patching sheetrock seems mystical and magical to you, I have good news! You can totally do this. It really ain’t no thang.

You’ll need:

  1. Sheetrock mud (aka joint compound)
  2. Drywall tape
  3. A trowel or taping knife
  4. A mudpan
  5. Enough extra sheetrock to fill the hole
  6. (affiliate links)

Materials to repair drywall

1. Cut your spare sheetrock

Use a knife or razor blade or whatever you can find to cut around the hole to make it remotely square or rectangular. Use that square as a template to cut a new piece of sheetrock that you’ll use to fill the hole.
cutting a drywall template to repairYep, that’s a stamp on Andy’s hand. He’d blame the kiddos for stamping his hand if you asked, but I think he secretly just likes the look.

2. Prep the hole

All sheetrock has a paper front on it. Just peel that paper off your little patch of sheetrock, and tear it off a square portion of the wall or ceiling where you’ll be inserting that patch. (Basically, this just makes your patch area a teeeeny bit less thick, so when you patch it, it’ll virtually disappear.)
Removing the paper from sheetrock to repair a hole
Now cut a spare board to just longer than the hole, slip it inside and behind the sheetrock, and screw it in place. Then screw your sheetrock patch right onto that board.
How to patch sheetrock or drywall
I know it’s not fancy yet, but y’all, that is a beautiful sight. Because you’re almost done now!

3. Finish ‘er off

Cover the seams with drywall tape.
Drywall tape
Then dump a little bit of sheetrock mud in your mudpan, scoop it out with your trowel or taping knife, and just slather it on top like rich, creamy chocolate frosting.
Repairing damaged sheetrock
Then you just wipe it off, slowly and evenly, with the edge of your trowel.
How to patch and repair a hole in sheetrock or drywall
Let it dry, sand it lightly, and repeat with the sheetrock mud if necessary, until it’s smooth as butta. Prime it, paint it, celebrate.

It seems like this magical process, but it’s really pretty straightforward and very, very do-able. And it just so happens Andy has the magic touch. So once you prime it and (painstakingly) paint it a soft blush color…
You’d never know there was an extra hole there or an evil fluorescent light. It’s like it never happened.

Seriously, check out the before and after one more time.
How to remove popcorn ceilings and repair drywall! A before and after!
(You want to talk more about that paint job, don’t you? We still haven’t belabored that one enough for you? I know.)

And now we’re all ready for a blingy light fixture! Something crystal… something sparkly… *happy sigh.* I can’t even wait.

Just as a heads-up, I’ve gotten lots of requests for more details on how we built the shelves. I’m working on that, so we’ll be stepping back in time again at some point. At this rate, I’ll be blogging my own birth by next month.

Easy instructions to make holes in drywall DISAPPEAR! Anyone can do this!

Have you ever repaired sheetrock? Do you “know how to clean… things…”?

Let's connect


  1. Well, you’ve done it! I really didn’t think it was possible to make removing popcorn ceilings cute. But this was adorable. A future as a TV host I tell ya.
    And I’ll be patching our ceiling too! The bathtub leaked again 🙁

  2. It was worth getting up a little early this morning just to see that stankin’ cute video!

    And who knew how easy it was to rid your life of popcorn ceilings! I can now envision a world free of them… whew.

  3. that video was freakin adorable :). can’t wait to see what chandelier you picked out!

  4. Oh my gosh – a fluorescent light on your parts…that sounds amazing and super flattering. You must have had body-confidence off the charts these past few years! Can’t wait to see the pretty chandy!

  5. I’ve never seen the “tear off the paper” trick. That is a great tip! I’ve always tried without that and ended up with a slight bump up to the patch. It’s not terribly noticeable, but I like the idea of avoiding it if possible. Thanks!

    • charles partak says:

      Years ago a professional painter showed me a trick to patching small holes such as this.
      A better way to patch a hole in drywall between studs like that is called the “california patch” . Doesn’t require as much material , no 2×4 or tape. Just a scrap of drywall bigger than the damaged hole ,a drywall “punch saw” ,a utility knife with a (new) sharp blade, a 4 inch drywall knife and some mud. Buy a small bag of 20 minute set dry powder mix ,only mix up what you need .If you buy a small bucket of pre-mixed it usually doesn’t get used and goes bad fast,separates or turns funky colors, it could even mold.
      First, prep the hole by cutting a neat square out the damaged area and the paper score and peeling thing on the wall surrounding the hole to be patched, but instead of having to put in a wood backer that most people can’t fit it in without dropping it in the hole…or end up sinking the screws too far . Once the screw heads are past the surface of the paper as much as you show , the strength is gone.
      Instead – measure the hole that needs patching and find a piece of drywall that is at least 3 inches larger both ways (so , if its a 4 x 4 hole , get a patch piece 7 x7 ). turn the patch piece over so you’re looking at the back ,center and score only the back paper slightly smaller (1/8-1/4 inch)than the same dimension as the hole leaving a border (back to the 4 x 4 hole patch…with a 1 1/2 border). snap the border of the patch piece on all 4 sides and peel the gypsum away from the face paper leaving a rim of feather edged face paper on a square of drywall that fits your hole. I wish I could post a pictorial of my explanation.Its way easier to see it done than I can explain it, are you following me here?? Cool. Now, take your 4 inch drywall mudding knife and “butter” the edge of the patch piece and hole to be patched with smooth creamy drywall mud (ALWAYS mix your store bought mud well with a tiny bit of water to a workable consistency between thick mayonnaise and creamy peanut butter. its never smooth enough to use right out of the bucket), be generous applying the mud to the edge of the hole . Now, place the patch in the hole, wiggling it in so the mud binds to the edge surfaces . Working from the center of the square towards the rest of the wall, smooth out the mud with a slight angle to the knife . It will come out of the edges of the patch paper, thats ok. It will feather itself out .Once dry, the mud will bind the edges together as if it was original. Let this dry at least an hour before a thin recoating ,wait another few hours until the mud patch is no longer cool to the touch before sanding. (if it still feels cool , it still has too much moisture in it to lightly sand (120 grit sanding screen,then wipe with a water moistened sponge,) let dry and paint .
      Once finished, its almost invisible without the bulge of the extra paper thickness that tape or too much mud would produce.

  6. Beatles song lyrics restated (mostly) from memory:

    I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in…
    I’m filling the cracks that ran through the door…
    I’m painting my room in the colorful way…
    And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong I’m right…

    I’m taking the time for a number of things
    That weren’t important yesterday

  7. Very handy you guys are! I am dying over that blush pink ceiling. I am so excited to see it all done just from that.

  8. I think your kids should narrate all y’all’s videos; that was so cute! My husband and I were at Ikea last weekend, and when we walked by the lighting section I told him that my goal in life is to have a chandelier in my closet. Without batting an eye, he said “as long as we’re not sharing a closet, go for it.” That’s love… 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for this! I pinned it. Also I think every girl wants a chandelier in her closet. My cousin recently told me his wife wanted one thinking I would think it was crazy. I said ” of course, I already bought one for mine”

  10. Patching and I go way back, and it’s a fact I could probably stop over to mud and tape a whole room for you, cept I can’t reach the ceiling and have not mastered stilts.

  11. Hey, I’ve patched a hole in my bedroom wall that used to be one of those 1960’s intercom systems (now dead). I used a patch kit that had a metal plate in the center, stuck to that mesh tape stuff and it was self adhesive, so I didn’t have to do the dry wall part. I think it was at Lowes… The hole I had was at least 8″ across, so it had to have been pretty big. My two cents.

  12. Wow! that wasn’t so hard at all, I think I can even do that! Very cool. I laughed and chuckled all the way through until the end when I actually shot coffee through my nose all over my keyboard, screen and desk @ your blogging your own birth! My nose is kind of burning a bit now because coffee really shouldn’t be in there, and now I know, NO BEVERAGES allowed while reading your posts!!! 😀 You made my day! Every time I think about that I know I’m going to laugh.
    PS… those babies are beautiful!! Loved the I don’t know how to clean things…. mine are fully grown and still saying that, and proving it!

  13. Your writing is awesome! I have noticed you always forget the most important step…How to get your husband to help??? ; )

  14. Bwa ha ha. “Do no harm.” I totally agree. We have a lot of popcorn to remove in our 1972 museum of a house. Ours is painted over and doesn’t come down quite that easy, but we’ve had good luck using water in a new pump action garden sprayer. It kept me from getting as tired working the spray bottle. (The last room we did was 50×17…took

  15. Ooooo! Love the peeling the paper from the patch tip! My husband is the dry wall patcher around here because well, that’s what husbands are for, right?! Anyway, we very recently decided to paint the guest room & ended up with several (nine, I think) holes in the wall because my hubs decided he was going to move a light switch “while we’re at it”. Anyway, lots of patching to do now & I’ve never seen him peel the paper. He’s a perfectionist so, I know he’ll appreciate this helpful hint to get that smooth finish. Love your posts! Love it when I get an email notification that there’s a new post! Thanks for being such a wealth of knowledge & so fun while we watch! Inspired every time!

  16. The video is hilarious! :o) You gotta do more of those: DIY So Easy My Kid Can Tell You How. !!

    I kinda want to own a house now…so I can do all this myself. See what your blog can do? It can make people WANT to throw themselves to the torture fixing up a house.

  17. I’ve never heard of the peel the paper trick either! I’ve patched and sanded more holes than I care to discuss or think about! Showing Big Daddy now, so one of us will remember when next we do this!! Thanks for sharing, and as always you guys are Fabulous!

  18. That video is adorable. I love it!! Great patch job too. We are patch job twins today btw 😉 High five!

  19. Oh my goodness, that video was too adorable! I have several light fixtures I’d love to move but we don’t have any attic access so I’m not sure how I’d move them. Any tips? 🙂

  20. This looks easy and at the same time I totally want to call my sister / husband / someone with more skills than me if it ever needs to get done in my home. LOVING the ceiling color in there and loving where this closet is going!

  21. Weston, you’ve put together some very informative videos in your day.
    Kelly, does this time travel enable you to skip steps, too? Cuz I need me some of that!

  22. I so wanted to do that to our entire house. Everyone told us what a big project it was so we didn’t do it and I hate our ceilings! I love the fluorescent visual by the way- you had my laughing!

  23. I’m still jealous that your hideous textured ceilings come off so easily. We weren’t so lucky. Maybe when you’re traveling back in time to blog your own birth you can also swing by the previous owners and beg them not to do whatever they did to our poor ceilings?

    Your kid is too cute. 🙂

  24. I love your blog!! It’s helpful, informative and you are super funny! Thanks for making your little slice of the interwebs so great.

  25. Hahaha! You found a way to make removing popcorn ceilings adorable! Congrats on having such cute kids!

    Also all these posts are such a tease! I’m ready to see a glammed out closet! 😉

  26. Oh my gosh. The video. Precious! I want to do one too ….sadly, my baby is a 15 yr old boy and I don’t think he would oblige! lol


  27. Cute video and great technique to remove the dreaded popcorn. I don’t mean to alarm you (and maybe I missed it somewhere) but it is a VERY IMPORTANT first step to have your popcorn texture tested for asbestos before tampering with it. When we were house shopping we actually had a popcorn ceiling tested and it came back positive. It is a game changer in the removal process in that you have to seal off the area, wear respirators, dispose properly, etc… Asbestos was part of dry-wall mud for years – and that is why it has to be considered. I would hate for someone to start this removal process and unwittingly expose themselves and anyone who enters their home to asbestos. Looking forward to your closet reveal!

  28. Ug. Unfortunately we have had to patch more holes in our ceilings than I would like to admit. This is a great tutorial!

  29. I have repaired sheetrock and thought I was all genius when I found out about that tape. Pre-tape days I tried to fix an entire wall seam by just expecting the mud to magically cling to the gap. Oh the things we learn… I never knew the pulling the paper off trick though, so I’m going to have to add that to my knowledge base.

  30. Hi Kelly!
    I love love love this post and the one about removing the popcorn ceiling! I could definitely use more posts like these.
    Question. What editor do you use to add text to your photos?

  31. In just days I will mark the 22nd anniversary of moving into my home. A lot is different now and I am finally doing the decorating and renovating I have been longing to do, particularly my Mistress Bedroom…which has a horrible 1970’s intercom in the middle of the wall. And boy howdy, let me tell you how thrilled I was to come across this post. I used a wall patch from Home Depot, BUT that trick about peeling back the drywall paper and old paint, WOW! The joint compound is up there drying right now, but I have every confidence in the world that my patch will be totally inconspicuous. Thank you.

  32. Hey Kelly,
    I wanted to let you know I wrote a post on my blog about removing popcorn ceiling and I linked to this post. I’m new here to the blog world and I’m not sure the etiquette yet lol. But I thought I should let you know.

  33. man o man what a difference! ceilings intimidate me…big time.

  34. Thanks so much for sharing this. We have a big ole fluorescent light fixture in our kitchen that I’ve been wanting to take down for years. I thought it would be a lot of trouble to repair the ceiling so we just lived with it. Glad to know that it’s something that we can try and handle ourselves. Cute video too btw!

    • Thanks! I hope you get rid of your fluorescent beauty! 🙂 We had one like that in our kitchen too and it made SUCH a difference to get right of it!

  35. I have already tried this at home and its amazing that after you made it, its like you have done a great achievement or job in your life. I love reading blogs and articles related to my work. Thumbs up for your website (y)

  36. Hello to every , for the reason that I am really keen of reading this web site’s post to be updated on
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  37. This is pretty interesting, I’d like to mimic and try this at home too!

  38. This is very handy because I was in the attic and made a terrible mistake. Put my whole leg through the ceiling. Hurt like the devil but I’m ok. I don’t know if I cried more because of the pain, or the horrid hole in my beautiful smooth cathedral ceiling. boo. Anyway, fixing this does not seem so daunting now that I have read this post. Thanks so much!!!

  39. I love your red text cuteness on your pictures – I saw one of your pictures on Pinterest and immediately knew it had to be one of yours…clicked the link and came straight here! Much love!

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  42. i hope you had your ceiling tested for asbestos. Popcorn ceilings were commonly made with asbestos.

  43. How do you hold the board in place while you attach it? The opening looks too narrow for your hand.
    Thank you.

  44. Haha celebrate? Not sure why you would be happy. A piece of paper painted the same color as the wall would look better than that crap. Looks as though you used a shovel to apply plaster compound.

  45. Thanks so much for this! As a novice DIY-er, this was straightforward, helpful and surprisingly funny. Drywall does occasionally seem more magic than craft but after watching this, I feel like I might actually do a halfway decent job. For any larger-scale project, I’d probably bring in the experts, but I should be able to manage a small project. Thanks for sharing!

  46. This is a very detailed process for repairing drywall. I have never tried to do something like this before, and I’m not sure I could do as good a job. I didn’t even know that drywall tape existed, so that’s good to know!

  47. I always get confused on which process should be used for wall repairs or patching holes. I am glad you have discussed the idea here with complete guidelines . Hole or crack repairing may take some time but it will worth the painting on wall.

  48. Drywall is an important part of everyone’s house. So, I can see how it would be important to know how to repair it when needed. Thanks for the tips on that regard. The pictures you have here, especially the ones about prepping the hole, are really helpful.


  1. […] the closet all painted and the popcorn ceilings removed… it was time to make some drawers for my little jewelry station. This is the plan […]

  2. […] it like this: Then we demoed it. Removed the popcorn ceilings, took all the junk off the walls and mudded over the holes so it’d be ready for paint. Just when we had it demoed to the PRECISE point of maximum […]

  3. […] First, cut a rectangular shape around the hole to patch. This gives you an easy shape to use as a replacement template. Around the hole’s edge, tear off the protective paper. To affix the drywall, cut a small board just longer than the hole. Slide it inside the hole and screw it into place. Then screw your new drywall onto the board. Cover the seams with drywall tape, and cover with sheetrock mud. Wipe excess off, let it dry, sand, and repeat. via viewalongtheway. […]

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