A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Fill Screw Holes in Plaster Walls Like a Pro

A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Fill Screw Holes in Plaster Walls Like a Pro


Plaster walls can add a touch of elegance and charm to any room, but they can also be susceptible to damage, especially when it comes to screw holes. Whether you’re moving artwork, shelves, or other fixtures, it’s not uncommon to find yourself with unsightly holes in your plaster walls.

The good news is that filling these holes is a relatively simple task that can be done with just a few tools and materials. In this step-by-step guide, I will walk you through the process of filling screw holes in plaster walls like a pro so that you can restore the beauty of your walls with ease.

The same knowledge can be applied when it comes to covering nail holes in a wall. However, it’s essential to consider that if the nail in a plaster wall attaches to something, such as a board wall, the nail head may become visible over time due to the natural expansion and contraction of the wood caused by temperature changes.

On the other hand, repairing plaster holes is easier because the fix should not be noticeable if the plaster is still intact. So, you can also use this knowledge to know how to patch nail holes in plaster.

Tools and materials needed

Before you get started, gather the following tools and materials:

  1. Putty knife or scraper
  2. Sandpaper (medium and fine grit)
  3. Spackle or joint compound
  4. Primer
  5. Paint
  6. Paintbrush or roller
  7. Sponge or cloth

These items will ensure you have everything you need to complete the project smoothly and efficiently.

Step 1: Preparing the screw hole

The first step in filling a screw hole in a plaster wall is to prepare the hole itself. Use a putty knife or scraper to remove loose or damaged plaster around the hole. Be gentle during this process to avoid causing further damage to the surrounding area.

Once you have removed any loose plaster, use a damp sponge or cloth to clean the hole and the surrounding area. This will remove any dust or debris that could interfere with the adhesion of the filler material.

Step 2: Choosing the suitable filler material

Choosing a suitable filler material is crucial for achieving a professional-looking finish. Spackle and joint compound are both excellent options for filling screw holes in plaster walls.

Spackle is ideal for smaller holes, while joint compound is better suited for larger holes or areas with more significant damage.

Whichever filler you choose, make sure it is specifically designed for use on plaster walls. This will ensure that it adheres properly and dries to a smooth finish.

To prepare the filler material, follow the instructions on the packaging. In most cases, you must mix the filler with water until it reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency. Mix only what you need for the current project, as the filler can dry out quickly.

Step 3: Applying the filler to the screw hole

Now that you have prepared the filler material, it’s time to apply it to the screw hole. Using a putty knife or scraper, gently press the filler into the hole, filling it. Be sure to smooth the surface of the filler as you go, using the edge of the putty knife or scraper.

This will ensure a seamless finish once the filler dries.

After filling the hole, allow the filler to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically takes a few hours, but checking the packaging for specific drying times is best.

Once the filler is dry, use sandpaper to smooth the surface, blending it with the surrounding plaster. Start with medium-grit sandpaper to remove excess filler, then switch to fine-grit sandpaper for a smoother finish.

Sanding is the most important part of preparing the wall.

Step 4: Sanding and smoothing the filled area

Sanding and smoothing the filled area is crucial in achieving a professional-looking finish. Start by gently sanding the filled screw hole with medium-grit sandpaper. This will help remove any excess filler and create a smooth surface. Be careful not to sand too aggressively, as this can damage the surrounding plaster.

Once you have sanded the filled hole, switch to fine-grit sandpaper and continue sanding until the surface is perfectly smooth. Use light, circular motions to blend the filled area with the surrounding plaster, ensuring a seamless finish. Take your time during this step to achieve the best results.

Step 5: Painting and finishing the filled screw hole

After sanding and smoothing the filled screw hole, it’s time to paint and finish the area. Start by applying a coat of primer to the filled hole and the surrounding plaster. This will help the paint adhere properly and ensure an even finish. Allow the primer to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Once the primer is dry, apply a coat of paint to the filled screw hole using a paintbrush or roller. Match the paint color to the surrounding wall for a seamless look.

Apply the paint in thin, even layers, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Depending on the color and texture of your wall, you may need to apply multiple coats of paint to achieve a perfect match.

Tips for a professional-looking finish

To achieve a professional-looking finish when filling screw holes in plaster walls, consider the following tips:

Take your time: 

Rushing through the process can result in a sloppy finish. It is essential to take your time and be patient. Allow each step to fully dry before moving on to the next. This will ensure a better outcome and a more professional-looking result.

Use the right tools: 

Investing in high-quality tools is crucial because they make the process easier and guarantee better results. You can work more efficiently and effectively with reliable tools, saving time and effort.

High-quality tools are designed to withstand rigorous use and provide accurate and precise measurements, ensuring your work is of the highest standard. They are also more durable, reducing the need for frequent replacements and saving you money in the long run.

Investing in top-notch tools demonstrates your commitment to professionalism and excellence in your field. Clients and colleagues will notice the difference in the quality of your work and will have more confidence in your abilities.

So, whether you are a professional or a hobbyist, it is worth considering investing in high-quality tools to enhance your productivity and achieve outstanding results.

Practice on a scrap piece of plaster: 

If you’re new to filling screw holes in plaster walls, it is highly recommended to practice on a scrap piece of plaster before attempting to repair your actual walls. Doing so will allow you to familiarize yourself with the process and build up your confidence.

This preliminary practice will allow you to refine your technique and ensure success when working on your walls.

Blend the filled area with the surrounding plaster: 

When sanding and smoothing the filled area, take your time to ensure a seamless finish that blends with the rest of the wall. This step is crucial in achieving a professional-looking result.

By carefully sanding and smoothing the filled area, you can ensure that it seamlessly integrates with the surrounding wall, creating a cohesive and polished appearance. Patience during this process is essential, as rushing can lead to uneven surfaces or visible imperfections.

By taking your time and paying attention to detail, you can achieve a flawless finish that will enhance the room’s overall aesthetic.

Use a sponge or cloth to clean up any mistakes: 

If you make an error while applying the filler or paint, it is essential to act swiftly. Grab a damp sponge or cloth and promptly clean up the mistake before it dries and becomes more difficult to remove.

The floor becomes easily covered with micro paint drops using a paint roller.

I usually keep a mop ready to go over the floor, even if I don’t see any splashes or paint drops after I paint the wall. This is especially important if I don’t have any protection placed on the floor.

Common mistakes to avoid when filling screw holes in plaster walls

While filling screw holes in plaster walls is a relatively simple task, some common mistakes can compromise the final result. Avoid the following mistakes to ensure a professional-looking finish:

  1. Overfilling the hole: Applying too much filler can result in a raised bump that is easier to smooth.
  2. Not allowing the filler to dry completely: Rushing the drying process can lead to a rough surface that is challenging to sand and blend.
  3. Skipping the priming step: Skipping the primer can result in uneven paint adhesion and a patchy finish.
  4. Using the right tools: Using the right tools can make the process easier and lead to a more-than-perfect finish.
  5. Not matching the paint color: Using the wrong paint color can make the filled screw hole stand out rather than blend in with the rest of the wall.


Filling screw holes in plaster walls doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools, materials, and techniques, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that seamlessly blends with the rest of your wall.

By following this step-by-step guide on how to fix holes in plaster walls, you’ll be able to fill screw holes in plaster walls like a pro, restoring the beauty of your walls without the need for professional help.

So go ahead and confidently tackle those unsightly holes, knowing that you have the knowledge and skills to get the job done right.