What are the Different Types of Sheetrock&Reg; Repair?

T. Raleigh

Also known as gypsum wallboard or drywall, the inside walls in most modern houses are made of Sheetrock®. As a result, Sheetrock® repair is rather common. There are two basic types of repair work for problems in drywall appearance. Small holes may be repaired using compound or compound in conjunction with a patch. Larger repairs entail removing the damaged section and replacing it with a new piece of drywall.

An installer applies a finish coating to a Sheetrock® wall after making a repair.
An installer applies a finish coating to a Sheetrock® wall after making a repair.

Sheetrock® is the USG Corporation’s registered trademark name for wallboard. The United States Gypsum Company, now a subsidiary of USG Corporation, invented wallboard for commercial production around 1916. Before this time, most interior walls utilized narrow horizontal strips of wood, called laths, which were covered in layers of plaster. This process was laborious, and it took an expert to apply the plaster properly. The invention of drywall allowed for quicker and easier installation and simpler repairs, as well as helping to prevent the spread of fires from room to room.

Spackling compound is often used to fill cracks or holes in Sheetrock.
Spackling compound is often used to fill cracks or holes in Sheetrock.

Sheetrock® is a type of plasterboard made from a layer of gypsum plaster between two heavy exterior paper sheets. Most ceilings and interior walls use this type of gypsum board construction. The paper layer on the outside is thick, but still easily punctured. The kiln dried gypsum interior crumbles easily when penetrated. While drywall is relatively sturdy, a doorknob slammed into it can easily cause damage.

Drywall compound, also called joint compound or mud, is a thick plaster-like material. This compound is used to level indentations made by nails or screws when hanging the Sheetrock®, as well as to join the seams of the sheets together. Using a feathering technique, the compound is applied in thin layers and normally sanded lightly after each layer.

Very small holes, like those left by a nail or screw, usually repair easily with the use of drywall compound. Layers of the compound are applied until the hole is sufficiently filled and smooth. The smoother the compound is feathered over the repair, the less sanding will be required. For Sheetrock® repair of holes that are larger than 1 inch (2.54 cm), it is best to have some sort of support for the compound. Sheetrock® repair kits are available that contain compound as well as some type of drywall patch, usually mesh or metal, to smooth the compound over.

Larger Sheetrock® repair holes require a bit more attention. In most cases, a section around the damaged area will be cut out, and a replacement section of Sheetrock® will be measured and cut for the spot that needs repair. The new section will likely need a wood support to help hold it securely in place. The edges of the replacement piece are then leveled to the existing wall with drywall compound, leaving the smooth surface ready for recovering.

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