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September 2021
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Textured Drywall Patch

A recent job had me checking the plumbing on a house being freshened up. After replacing the mixing valve in one bathroom I came to find out that the previous owner had never used the shower, which filled the valve body with crap requiring replacement. This of course after the walls had been painted and carpet laid. Since the shower was tiled. entry from the front was a non starter.

After measuring the walls, I got lucky and discovered that the common wall was in a closet. In order for the plumber to get in, I needed to cut him a hole. Because the walls were textured, I needed to minimize the damage, so I cut the access with a utility knife. This takes longer than with a keyhole saw or a router, but the walls have been painted and new carpet installed.

I bagged and taped off the floor and cut the hole.

Here is the hole.  The studs were already in place. Yeah the plumber got his work done in that little hole. He is that good.

Next up is re-installing the drywall.  Because of  the backing screwing it back in was a breeze. Looking at the bottom of this photo you can see where I taped off the trim and taped it to the poly on the floor.

I used my old friend mesh tape for covering the seams. Here I have taped the horizontal and vertical wall seams. If you look closely you can see the tape line where somebody else  had opened this wall before to work on the drain.

Tech Tip: When you tape or repair drywall always do the butt joints first, cover the ends of the butt joints with the flats, (factory recessed seams) and finally the corners allowing you to overlap the ends with your corner tape. It makes taping easier as you will not telegraph the seams requiring more sanding to finish.

Here is the final tape. Notice the corner tape extends beyond the flat. This helps with finishing.

Next is the mud. Here your coats need to be thin enough to just cover without creating large bulges that are more work.

Because this is a ‘knock down’ texture After the mud is dry and you have sanded it lightly, texture in a can is applied. Follow the directions on the can as far as testing it on cardboard and following the directions in terms of drying time before ‘knocking it down’.

After this dries, before you repaint, lightly sand the area to match the original finish. You want to round the edges to hide your repair especially if your wall has been painted many times. I took the time to cover and texture the previous repair since I was in the neighborhood.

All done! the photo sucks but nobody who has looked at it can find it. And that is name of the game.

Storage Project 4 Details - Long Post

At the beginning of the Storage Project I said, “What I am going to do is to open this side of this wall, remove the pocket door and frame in the opening, remove the short wall between the existing opening and the new wall creating a long storage room. I will wire it for cable, network and electricity for future uses.”
This is standard stuff and sounds easy. If you do this for a living it is. If you are just starting with a small project around your house, here are some of the drywall detail work to help you conquer your projects.

I have mentioned that I screw drywall. After you have bought the basic drill, circular saw, and hand tools, you very next purchase should be a screwgun. Screws work better for holding drywall. A screwgun has an adjustable nose so you can set depth of your screws just below the surface. This is important because of the design of drywall screws and the ability of them to hold the drywall to the walls without popping.
You cannot use a regular drill and get a consistent depth for maximum holding power by hand. You will be either not deep enough requiring you to use a screw driver to get them deep enough or you will go to deep past the paper making the screw useless in terms of holding power. Trust me on this one.

Here are a few of the details on this project.
Wall Fix.
This is the wall where we removed the small wall that formed part of the old storage closet.

The ceiling is how they hung the drywall just over the top plate. You can barely make out the mesh tape I have bridged the gap with. The wall was a little different. I cut a line into the inside of all the corners before removing the old drywall, to prevent the walls from running. After I removed the old drywall and studs, I used a 4” mud knife and slid it along the wall cutting into the leftover corner material before filling in the gap left by the old studs. I screwed the drywall to the blocking that was in the wall that they used to build this wall. I meshed taped both seams. This will be filled with speed set. I use speed set for pre fill as it dries quickly and shrinks very little requiring much less labor to blend. (That comes later when I skim coat) Also I can add less water to produce a stiffer mix to fill these gaps without runs or bulges.

Ceiling Outlet Repair

This is a typical ceiling outlet hole.  This is made by using a circle cutter and then bashing it open with a drywall hammer. When you are hanging footage, it takes 5 seconds to bash the hole, and up to 30 seconds to use a keyhole saw. Bashing the hole this way breaks the core of the back side of the drywall, which you remove by sweeping it with the hatchet side of your drywall hammer. You should take the time to cut these out with a keyhole saw.

I mention this because if you have small pot lights or retro fit ceiling cans, that keeping falling down or loosening up, this is the reason. There is not enough material around the sides to allow the clamps to hold it tight to the ceiling. You can loosen the clamps, rotate the light and hope you get lucky, or remove the light and build up the top of the sheet with compound. It doesn’t work very well in most cases.

Squaring the hole.

Just like it sounds. Cut a square scrap of drywall, cover the hole, trace around it, and cut it with keyhole saw.


Install blocking above your hole. This is a scrap lumber that is long enough to extend beyond the cut line and narrow enough so that you can hold it tight while you screw it in place. The point here is to repair the area and keep it flat. On walls you can use the “tapeless drywall patch technique” But on ceilings I recommend blocking.


Screw in the block that you used as a template for cutting the hole.

Mesh tape and you are ready for mud.

Here is a wall patch. This was an exploratory hole for a cable run into the dining room. Measurements get you only so far, Sometimes you just have to perform surgery. Here also I used blocking rather than a tapeless patch which is really much better on smooth walls.

Here is our hole covered before skim coating.

Here is another patch. This is actually a twofer. When I disconnected this outlet, it turned out not to stop here but was also connected to the porch light. So I had to cut it open both top and bottom to trace the wiring. I wire nutted the connections, pushed them in the box, and will be covering this with blank cover plate.

Never !Ever! bury  a box that contains live circuits. It is against code, and if there is ever any problem, you or your electrician will thank me.

Note that I covered the box opening with blue tape. This prevents filling the box with mud as you work. This saves time and aggravation when it comes time to  install outlets,switches,  and cover plates.

It makes taping easier not having to worry about crap in the box or loose wires sticking out, live or not.

Drywall over Concrete
This is the west end of the storage area. On the left and back is the concrete block that forms part of the veranda in front and the garage wall.

Here we use drywall with heavy adhesive(PowerGrab) on the back and use short spiral shank concrete nails to hold it in place while the glue sets. Here is the intrepid client lending a hand.

In the photo below on the right side, the brown area is where we did not cut the inside corner deep enough  so when we pulled the drywall down, the top ran, taking the paint and texture off. This will have to be pre-filled before skimcoating.

The walls are taped and covered coated prior to skim coating the walls smooth. Because there is so much patching, skim coating is the best wall treatment.

Skim Coating
Because of depth of texture multiple coats of mud will be needed. This is the first coat applied vertically. The second coat should be applied horizontally, and the final coat, with vertically. I used speed set for the fill coats and Dust Control mud for the final coat. Because you have to sand it smooth eventually:)

Second Coat.

Sanded and Primed

Not everything goes according to plan. In finishing up one last connection in the attic, which is another whole post. Suffice to say , in arizona the shortest distance for wiring is anywhere you want.

Attics are dark dusty, and slippery.

One small step for mankind, one more repair for the taper.

Here we installed blocking between the ceiling joists, and screwed through the joists into the blocks with 3” screws, because folks will step on any thing that looks solid. So screw up the drywall, tape over the cracks, and skim over it.

The repaired area is in the middle of the ceiling over the end light. Came out okay.

These are some of the most common challenges you may face in remodeling, but hopefully not all at the same time or in the same room.

Storage Project 3

In our last exciting episode we had done the demo, framed the new walls, filled in the old pocket door area, ran wiring for CATV, network, and electric.

Here is the inside of the new storage area. This is looking east.

On the left side is the pocket door opening and the new doorway framing. The door in the center of the photo leads into the house. Note the switch and push button on the left side of the door. They are the garage light and the garage door opener. Moving right, is the original wall. the two wires on it are the CATV and Network cables for the dining room.

Note the two electric boxes on the right side  wall. We removed the outlets and are covering them with blank cover plates. As it turned out, the boxes were also a feed for outlets further in the house. So after tracking and reconnecting the necessary wires we will be using blank cover plates.

Tip. If you are removing outlets or switches and not removing the boxes, Do Not Bury Them!! Wire nut  whatever connections are necessary and use blank cover plates. Make a note with a sharpie on the back explaining what they fed or/are feeding.

Moving toward the right is a dark vertical line. This is where we removed the stud on the short wall. Further right are the horizontal lines left from the shelving in the old storage room. Also note the drywall stops there and the concrete block continues. This marks the end of the house framing and the concrete block formed a wing for the front porch.

Here is the west view. On the left is our dining room wall and beyond it the concrete block wall which also turns the corner and becomes one of the garage walls.

We will be dry walling the block, patching the drywall, and skim coating the inside.  It is about half new sheetrock and half old wall with a relatively heavy texture. It is a judgment call. I can skim coat much faster than I can texture so that is the way we will go.

We have run our wiring, marked the location of the studs on the floor and ceiling,(this is so you know where to screw your drywall) and are insulating the wall. This will act as not only an energy feature but also sound control.

Drywall is up.
Here is the west garage wall where the pocket door was. Note that the right side does not extend into the storage cabinets on the right side. This is by design. It is much easier to float the mud this way and get a smooth wall.

Here is the east garage wall with the door installed. On the left are the garage light switch and the door button. In the center of the photo are two outlet boxes on top of each other. the bottom is the outlet, the top is the network and cable for the flat screen TV when this becomes a play room or man cave. In doing these projects, I always cover the outlet boxes with tape before drywall. This keeps mud and dust out of the boxes, and makes installing outlets and switches much easier if you are not excavating the boxes and the screw holes.

The new storage area.
This is looking east toward the house. The blue tape on the trim will prevent extra labor when taping and skimming that wall. The box above the new door is one of three for new energy saving florescent lights. All the flat joints are mesh tape and the corners are paper tape. The first coat is done with 90 minute ‘speed set’.

This is looking west. We have covered the block wall with drywall fastened with PowerGrab adhesive and short spiral shank masonry nails to hold the drywall as the adhesive sets.

Next post I will show some of the details of blending old and new work.

USG Dust Control Mud Coupon

dcmudTaping drywall is an art as well as one of the messiest procedures in remodeling. I have mentioned USG products before including their Dust Control Mud. It has its own website.

This is probably the greatest stuff for the home remodeler since the blue and orange stores.
I really wished they had this stuff years ago.

They have a coupon on their website.

Drywall Skim Coating - Inside Corners

In remodeling you sometimes decide to bridge the new work to old or existing work. Matching or changing your wall surface becomes a consideration. This is a short guide on skim coating existing walls to match the new construction.

The previous wall surface is a heavy knockdown texture. Basically what happens is that the walls are taped and second coated, and then taping mud is thinned and sprayed on the walls with a texture hopper, and after a few minutes, it is ‘knocked down’ with a taping knife resulting in a textured wall. It is a cheap finish system and all too often is done badly.

This is the alcove where the toilet sits in the Lightyear Sunken Bath Project. In this case we decided to make the walls smooth. This has just about every thing you can run into when remodeling with drywall between old and new construction.

The left of this photo shows the edge of the drywall that covers where we installed a pocket door. The back wall shows where we installed a glass block for light and replaced the piece of drywall we cut out previously. You can also get a good idea of the ‘knock down’ texture.
The right side shows where we framed up the new partition between the toilet and the shower with the opening for the open shelf unit.

Throne Alcove with New and Old work.

Throne Alcove with New and Old work.

Here is the beginning of taping this area. We use mesh tape for the flats, and paper tape for the inside corners. Taping on texture has its own issues. When you feather your mud, the knife running over the texture telegraphs and creates ripples in your mud coat.
When taping inside corners on these areas, mud and embed your tape, and wipe down the new flat side first. This creates a guide area for wiping down the other side and give you a clean smooth corner.

Taping cracks and establishing Inside corners

Taping cracks and establishing Inside corners

Here the process is a bit further along with the introduction of the open shelf unit and the metal bead. This unit is trimless, so I installed ‘L’ Bead along the outside edges of the shelving unit. Not shown in this photo is a piece of mesh tape applied diagonally just below the high side of the bead. This strengthens the joint, minimizing cracking, and reinforcing the gap made by the bead and the drywall. We also taped the flats and installed the corner bead.

Wall and Shelf Detail

Wall and Shelf Detail

Look at the bottom of this photo and notice the grey triangular area. This is where I did not cut through the corner deep enough when I removed the old drywall prior to rebuilding this.

Here is where I have prefilled this area thinking that I had gotten all of the loose paper removed. Bzzt! not so fast. You can see the bubbles from a bit of the paper that had separated. You have to remove these and fill them in. If you do not, succeeding coats of mud will bounce, and look bad. You can also get an idea of the texture filling with the splotchy area outside of the triangle.

Paper Detail

Paper Detail

Here is where I have taped the flats and the corners. You can see the diagonal line of where the two ‘L’ beads do not match up perfectly. This will be fixed on succeeding coats. The magazine rack also gets taped. If it is an inside corner it gets tape.

Reading nook detail

Reading nook detail

The most important part of skim coating is taping the inside corners to provide clean sharp angles.

Inside Corner Taping

Inside Corner Taping

Once your corners are done, you can then begin the process of skim coating to smooth your walls.

Wall Skimming

Wall Skimming

Drywall Taping – Taping Walls

If you are hanging drywall yourself, taping is the next step in finishing your rooms. Taping is a skill that can be learned. It requires feeling over brute force. 

Here are the tools you will need for taping. In the upper left is a mud
pan. They come in plastic, galvanized and stainless steel like mine. On
the upper right side is a 6'' mud knife, the work horse of the taping
game. It is used to scoop the mud out of the bucket, and into the pan,
applying the tape coat of mud, corners and spotting nails. It is also
the first call for doing patch repairs, and fixing problems like electric box cutout misses.

On the bottom right is an 8'' taping knife for second coats and areas
that need a wider knife, such as corner beads, and cover  or second
coats. On the bottom left is a 12'' knife for third or finish coats and
for running butt joints. Finally in the middle of the photo is a hand
sander. A necessary tool that creates the majority of the mess in
finishing drywall. How much mess you create and have to cleanup is a
direct result of your taping efforts.

In a perfect world we have smooth seams, no tears, damage, and the only butt joints are corners. Good Luck with that….

Here we have a wall that has a number of the most common features. We have seam joints,(the long factory edges) butt joints, (the short joints where two sheets meet) cutouts for electric boxes, cutouts for plumbing, a trimless window feature, and some common problems that may  occur when hanging drywall, such as the damage on the seam joint and the damage from mis cutting an electric box opening.

I have checked my screws by running my 6'' knife down the wall and listening for clicks that tell me that a fastener is not below the surface. I have cut away the loose drywall and paper on my seams and around the electric box. The next step if your walls have any of these problems is pre fill.

Here is our wall with taping compound prefilling the damaged areas of our wall prior to taping. 'Regular' mud/joint compound has a 24 hour drying cycle. You tape today, you cover tomorrow, and the next day you apply your third coat, and if all goes well the forth day is sanding followed by priming. Just because your mud looks dry after a few hours, do not be deceived, it is only the top that is dry.

You can use speed set/hot mud/ to do your prefills and get your tape  coat on in the same day. I show this here. I also spotted the fasteners.

Tapewall2 I have also taped and prefilled the butt joints as there were holes around the plumbing and elevation differences on the wall. 

Having finished my prefill, it is time for the tape coat. I use mesh tape on the flats and paper tape on the inside corners. Mesh tape is self adhesive and almost eliminates one of the worst problems(tape bubbles) with inexperienced tapers, and makes the mudding before tape application unnecessary in the flats, you still need to do it on your inside corners.

From personal experience you should tape the buttjoints first, running the tape within 1/2'' of your inside corner and a 1/2'' over the seam joints. This allows the butt joint tape to be underneath your seam tape and under your corner tape.  After mudding and wiping the butt joints, with the 8'' knife, you next mud and wipe the seams. Then you do the corners with your 6'' knife and paper tape.  Finally you coat any cornerbeads, box repairs, and spot the nails.

Tapewall3The next day brings us to our second coat. For those of you who are just starting the taping game, before you begin the second coat, take your drywall knife and lightly slide it across your seams from yesterday to remove any drywall mud that did not get wiped down or cleaned up from yesterdays taping adventure.

Like yesterday we will tape our butts first, our seams second, box repairs and spot nails/screws and finally one side of our corners.

Getting our walls flat is more about appearance than anything else. The seam joints are easy to make flat as the sheets have a depression from the factory that we are just filling in to make them level.


Butt joints on the other hand present us with challenges as the edges of the sheets have no depressions. With our tape and mud coat we  already have a bump on our wall. Relax, unless you are using screw blocks this is normal, and will be fixed. What we do is to apply wider coats of mud on either side of our butt joint so the bump gets spread over a much greater distance and gives us the appearance of a flat wall.

The photo below gives you a look at how much wider our butt joint is than our seam joint. This is where we use the 12'' knife.

Tapewall5After your mud dries, and you sand your joints smooth, being careful not to scuff the paper with too vigorus sanding, this is the point where those that desire it get texture applied to the walls.

In either case, after finishing your walls, it is Primer Time! Always Prime Sheetrock. No I do not belong to the primer lobby, I belong to the lazy and easy lobby. Priming drywall seals it, and as an added bonus allows you to see any imperfections that can be easily repaired with a bit of wall spackle. Raw drywall sucks up paint in a major way. Primer is a lot cheaper than that custom finish color that you paid big bucks for.

Also by sealing the drywall, you will need less paint to cover the walls. We fed our thirsty walls with primer,remember?


After the primer, you are ready to apply your finish coat. 


Flooring, trim and stuff, you can start living knowing that you did it.

3 Sided Drywall Repair

Repairing drywall usually comes up during the course of remodeling projects. If you break a wall, cut a hole, have the plumber and electrician over for a run or two, like where the drywall got opened for running wire or cables. It is usually your job to repair the walls.

In the case of small holes, under a square foot, these  are small enough to make a 'tapeless' drywall patch. I have a photo gallery here: Drywall Patch which outlines this proceedure.

The gallery shows the steps to repair drywall using the face paper as the tape for patching the wall.

However, there are cases where your patch needs to be three sided, such as inside corners or abutting things that are not moving, like trim. Here is a method for handling this challenge.

This is a hole the electrician made at the top of a service panel. It is about 4'' square. The left side has a stud behind it, the interior is filled with wires and insulation, making it a candidate for a 3 sided repair.


After squaring the hole with a utility knife and keyhole saw, we measure and cut a piece of drywall to fit the hole. For this repair we cut a piece of drywall 6'' wide and 5'' tall. After cutting the drywall to size, we flip it over and make 3 1'' scores on the back, and remove the drywall, taking care to leave the face paper intact. This piece is our tapeless drywall patch, using the face paper for our tape to cover the seam.


This is a three sided patch as the service panel is not moving, and you do not under any circumstances be slinging wet drywall mud into a live electric panel. You will want to dryfit this to insure that it will fit the hole, and not be too loose. 

Be sure to mask off those areas that you do not want mud.

Next you butter the the opening with mud carefully. I am using a different image as I was using speed set on this repair, and cameras and drywall mud do not mix :)


You apply enough drywall mud  to seal the seam, and provide enough mud under your patch so there are no voids or dry spots under your 'tape'.

Wipe it down, being careful not to push the patch into your hole. It will probably sink a bit because there is no backing, and that's okay. Let it dry.


Apply additional coats as necessary to cover your patch and smooth the wall.


A light sanding, and some paint to match, and unless you post it, you and the folks who made the hole will be the only ones to know.


Electric Box Drywall Repair

One of the common occurences in hanging drywall on a casual basis is cutting out for electric boxes and other holes you may need. Yes, you measured, you cut or sawed and you still missed the box.

Here is a box with the most common problems.

The upper left and lower right corners are damaged from the corners of the box breaking the drywall, when installing the sheet. The left and bottom of the cutout are too large and will not be covered by a standard cover plate. Yes you can use an oversize plate, but is the cost worth it?

The first order of business is to project the box and in this case the outlet. Bring out the blue tape. Carefully tape and cover the box/outlet so that you will not fill the box up with mud during the repair.

Second, remove any loose drywall and paper.

Now we prefill the holes with mud. Speed Set aka Hot Mud is the best solution, as you can put multiple coats on and the shrinkage is less. Regular Mud will work, but puts you on a 24 recoat cycle.

Next we tape and coat our opening. In this case I am using mesh tape. I am also feathering the mud.

Re coat as necessary, so that when you are sanding prior to painting, you are sanding everything. Feather your edges beyond the last coat so you end up with an ‘invisible’ repair.

Prime, Paint, screw down the outlet, attach the cover.

That is all there is to it. Happy Patching!

Door Stops and Drywall Patches

Doors and walls are dangerous together. Especially during puberty. Door slamming and banging is a favorite sport among a certain age group. Using a doorstop to prevent damage to your walls by the door pushing the knob through the wall is a good idea. There are many doorstops available.

These Doorstops suck. These are the cheapest ones available. Not just in cost but also in construction and durability.

Cheap door stops

These as you can see failed miserably. These are made by Stanley. They still suck.

In repairing damage to your wall, we will do a quick ‘tapeless drywall patch’. This is one hole that the homeowner started to repair the damage. Noble effort. The idea is great, the follow through is not. We want a square hole.

Cutting around the affected area

The first thing we need to do, is to square the hole. We are removing enough drywall to get past the cracked portion that the doorknob created. A drywall keyhole saw is the preferred tool for this.

Squaring the hole for the patch

Once we have our hole, take a scrap piece of drywall at least 2” larger in both dimensions than your hole.  We will make a ‘tapeless’ patch. We are going to remove an inch of drywall to leave a facepaper taping area.

Score the backside of the drywall so that you can carefully remove the edge piece so that the face paper remains. Do this with the other three sides. Your eyeballs are good enough to measure this as after the first cut, you can hold your patch up to the hole to see what else has to be removed.
Scoring the backside of our drywall patch

When you are done, your patch will look like this. We have eliminated needing a scrap of wood, screws, and drywall tape. This is for small repairs usually under 6” square.

Here is the front of our drywall patch using the face paper as our tape

Before we mud this in, we dry fit it to make sure that it will fit in our hole. Trim as necessary. It should fit snug, not tight.

Testing the fit of our patch before applying mud

Next we butter our hole with drywall mud. We are applying our mud to the surface to embed the ‘tape’ portion of our patch and the excess mud in our hole will seal the side edges when we install it.

Here we are prefilling our hole with mud applying enough to fill the gaps in our drywall and enough to fully embed the 'tape'

Insert the patch, and wipe it down, carefully so that you do not push it below the surface requiring more work.

Here is our patch in place, wiped down first coat

It will look like this. Let it dry as long as it needs to. With premixed mud, it is 24 hours. You can use “Speed Set”, which is taping compound that comes as a dry powder that you mix up yourself. It comes in 45, 90 minute times. It hardens chemically like concrete, but is a lot easier to sand. 45 minute ‘speed set ‘ has a working time, before it begins to harden and create a mess, about 1/3rd of the time (15 minutes)on the bag. You will need at least one more coat of mud before you sand.

Speed set is handy to have around, doesn’t dry out, and has an incredible shelf life. The down side is that it comes in big bags.

This particular wall was textured with a splattered ‘orange peel’, which requires more work. (don’t get me started on textured walls) The good news, is they sell spray textures in cans. so you can match this particular texture. One thing to remember, is that after you have re-textured, is to lightly sand the texture before you paint, so that the texture blends into the undamaged area. The texture on the undamaged area is smoother due to the paint that has been applied previously.

Finished and textured patch

Finally, before you repaint, put a quick coat of primer on the patch before you repaint the wall. This will hide the patch work that you did. Especially using semi or high gloss paints. Your finished repair should be invisible so that you can’t tell it ever happened.

Invisible repair

To insure that patching does not become a regular part of your life, replace all those bottom springy doorstops with a hinge mount stop like the one below. Take out one of the hinge pins, slide this on the pin, and set the pin back into the hinge. It is adjustable so you can limit the door travel. These were 99 cents at the home store.

Better Doorstops