How to repair a hole in the plaster wall

How to repair a hole in the plaster wall


As you stroll through my humble abode, you’ll notice that each room has its unique character. While some are adorned with smooth, plastered walls, others boast the rustic charm of wooden paneling. 

Caring for the wooden paneling is a breeze as small nail holes can be quickly filled using wood putty. However, repairing a hole in a plaster wall requires a more intricate approach. Therefore, following specific steps to restore the wall to its former glory is crucial.

Fixing small holes in plaster wall

Suppose you’re faced with the challenge of repairing plastered walls. In that case, it can be time-consuming and challenging, especially if you’re dealing with holes left behind from hanging up decorative items, family photos, or shelves.

However, for minor repairs like these, filling small holes in plasterboard plasterboard holes is accomplished with just a bit of spackling compound.

To begin with, you’ll need to remove any nails or other fasteners from the hole. Once the hole is cleared, take a putty knife and apply a small amount of spackling compound to the hole. Make sure to spread it out evenly and remove any excess.

Fortunately, the compound dries relatively quickly, so there’s no need to wait an extended period before moving on to the next step.

Once the spackling compound is dry, use 100-grit sandpaper to sand it down and remove any rough spots. This will help ensure that the repaired area blends in seamlessly with the rest of the wall.

Suppose you’re planning to paint the walls. In that case, it’s essential to paint the patches once and let them dry completely before repainting the entire wall. This way, the paint dries equally, making your patches invisible.

If you don’t have a spackling compound on hand, don’t worry. You can use toothpaste as a substitute for small holes.

The white variety works best and blends in well with the wall. However, if you’re in a pinch, you can also use the gel type. Apply the toothpaste to the hole and smooth it out with a putty knife. Allow it to dry, then sand it down as you would with the spackling compound.

By following these simple and detailed steps, you can repair small holes in your plastered walls quickly, easily, and without the need for expensive tools or materials.

Key points:

  1. Repairing plastered walls can be a time-consuming and challenging task.
  2. Filling small holes in the plasterboard is a simple task that can be accomplished with spackling compound.
  3. To fill a hole, remove any nails or other fasteners, apply spackling compound to the hole, and spread it out evenly.
  4. Let the compound dry, then sand it with 100 grit sandpaper to remove rough spots.
  5. If you plan to paint the walls, paint the patches first and let them dry completely before painting the entire wall.
  6. Toothpaste can be used as a substitute for spackling compound in a pinch.

Fixing small cracks in plaster wall

There is no need to worry if you notice small cracks, chips, or dents in a plastered wall. You can quickly repair them using spackling compound or even toothpaste.

However, before you begin the repair process, it is crucial to ensure that the damaged area is completely free from any dirt, oil, grease, or other debris that could hinder the repair compound from sticking correctly.

To clean the damaged area:

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any loose debris, and then wipe the area with a damp cloth.
  2. If there is any stubborn dirt or grease, use a mild detergent and water solution to clean the area thoroughly.
  3. Once you have cleaned the damaged area, let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

To apply the spackling compound or toothpaste, use a putty knife or even the tip of your finger as an applicator. To make the application process more accessible, it is advisable to wet the knife or your fingertip by dipping it in water. This will help to smooth the spackling compound or toothpaste out better.

When applying the compound, fill the damaged area by pushing the compound into the crack, hole, or dent. Afterward, smooth it out using the putty knife or your finger and allow it to dry undisturbed.

The drying time will depend on the type of compound you are using, so make sure to read the label instructions carefully.

Once the compound has dried, use fine-grit sandpaper to sand it down until it is smooth and level with the surrounding wall surface. Be careful not to sand too much, or you may damage the wall surface.

Lastly, wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove dust and paint it with a matching color. This way, you will achieve a seamless repair that will blend perfectly with the rest of the wall.

Key points:

  1. Clean the damaged area before repairing.
  2. Apply spackling compound or toothpaste with a putty knife or fingertip.
  3. Fill the damaged area and let it dry.
  4. Sand it down until it is smooth and level with the surrounding wall surface.
  5. Wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any dust and paint over it with a matching color.

Larger holes in plaster wall with lathe behind it

When repairing holes in walls, it’s essential to use suitable materials and techniques to ensure a seamless finish. For holes that are the size of a dime or more prominent, it’s best to use the spackling compound for repairs. This will help fill the hole and create a smooth surface that can be sanded down later.

For larger holes that are as big as the palm of your hand, you can use a few different methods. If the top layers of plaster are still intact but there is exposed lathe wood in the hole, you can usually repair it with a spackling compound and a putty knife.

It’s important to note that if the hole is more than half an inch deep, you’ll need to apply multiple coats of spackling compound to ensure it dries properly. The spackling compound takes drying time and can crack or shrink if applied too thickly.

Regarding the final coat of spackling compound, it’s best to apply a little extra so that the patch is slightly higher than the surrounding wall. This will make it easier to sand down and create a smooth, even finish. With these tips in mind, you can confidently repair holes in your walls and create a polished look that will last for years.

Key points:

  1. For small holes, use the spackling compound for repairs.
  2. For larger holes, repair with spackling compound and putty knife if the top layers of plaster are intact.
  3. Apply multiple coats of spackling compound for holes deeper than half an inch.
  4. Apply a little extra spackling compound for the final coat to create a smooth finish.
  5. Sand down the patch to create a seamless and polished look.

Larger holes in plaster wall without lathe behind it

If you have a hole in your plastered wall and no lathe is behind it, you must patch it with a piece of drywall. Drywall is also known as “sheetrock” or “gypsum board.”

To begin the repair process, you must cut a piece of drywall to the appropriate size. The patching piece of drywall should be at least three inches larger than the hole that needs repair.

To cut the drywall patching piece:

  1. Lay a piece of paper or thin cardboard over the hole.
  2. Use a pencil or pen to outline the hole onto the paper carefully.
  3. Place the paper outline in the middle of the drywall patching piece and use a pencil or pen to press down hard as you draw around the outline again.

After lifting the paper, you should see an indentation in the sheetrock. You can use a sharp utility knife, keyhole, or table saw to cut the outline out. The utility knife is the hardest to use, but if you have nothing else, then it can work.

Next, you will need a back piece to hold the patch. A scrap piece of thin wood, such as plywood or pressed wood, works well.

The wood will need to fit inside the hole in the plastered wall, but it will need to be about three or four inches longer than the hole so that you can screw it without cracking the edges of the hole.

Place a wood screw just far enough into the middle of the wood piece so it holds the screw firmly. The screw will allow you to hold onto the wood while you secure it to the plastered wall.

You can attach the back piece to the inside of the wall in one of two ways. Either you can glue it into place, or you can hold it in place while you place two or three drywall screws into the front of the wall. The “drywall screw method” is more secure than most glues.

Once the back piece is attached to the inside of the plastered wall, remove the screw from the middle. Finally, place the patch in the hole and use some spackling compound and a putty knife to apply layers to repair the hole completely.

If you have a drywall patch tape, you can use that on top so the edges won’t crack with time. Just put some spackling compound over the patched hole, lay the tape on top of it, and press it tightly with a putty knife. 

After that, put a layer of spackling compound on top of the tape and try to get it level with the rest of the wall. You might have to use spackling compound on a broader surface this way, but it will be a more robust fix.

After the final layer has been applied and is thoroughly dry, you’ll need to sand the area around the repair lightly.

Key points:

  1. To patch a hole in a plastered wall with no lathe, use a piece of drywall.
  2. Cut the patching piece of drywall to size using a paper or cardboard template of the hole.
  3. Use a back piece made of thin wood to hold the patch in place, attaching it to the inside of the wall with screws or glue.
  4. Apply spackling compound to the patched hole and use drywall patch tape to prevent cracking. 
  5. After the final layer dries, sand the repaired area lightly.


This guide provides step-by-step instructions on repairing holes and cracks in plaster walls.

The process is straightforward and can be used to fix most types of damage in your home.

However, it’s important to note that addressing large holes without proper support behind them can be challenging. In such cases, it’s crucial to ensure adequate support for the repair.

For instance, as the size of the hole increases, you may need to add more reinforcement to the wall.

When the hole becomes large enough to expose the wooden frame behind the drywall, it’s often better to remove the damaged section of the drywall and replace it with a new piece, attaching it securely to the frame.

If you’re interested in knockdown texture or making your plaster ceiling medallion, check out these two links.