How to Replace Drywall

If you are updating bathroom or kitchen tile, learning how to replace drywall is essential. It’s nearly impossible to remove any old tile without damaging your drywall, and you need a solid drywall foundation for your new tile to adhere to. Occasionally there’s just minor damage that you can patch, but if the hole is bigger than 3-5 inches, it’s better to replace the drywall instead of trying to repair the drywall with a patch.

This project was shot at Tori’s parents’ house as part of a project to transform their wet bar into a beautiful kitchen backdrop. Tori’s mom is a food blogger at My Kitchen Escapades, and this area will be her video studio space.

After replacing the countertops, the next step was to repair drywall damage, so we’d have a smooth surface to install the new backsplash.

drywall damage

Learning how to install drywall can be a little tricky, but you absolutely can learn to do it. Cutting and screwing in the drywall is easy. The mudding and taping is definitely the more challenging part, but if you aren’t happy with how it looks, just sand it smooth and apply another layer. If you’re doing a large area, you can also hire someone to come and just do the mudding and taping. But, if you’re installing it in an area that’s going to be covered with tile, it’s the perfect place to practice your mudding and taping!

how to replace drywall

The materials you use can make or break this project. The professionals can use anything and it’ll look great, but if you’re a DIYer, listen to these recommendations!

Use mesh, not paper, drywall tape. The paper tape requires more steps and is much harder to work with. It gets bunched or bubbled and you end up fighting the tape. The mesh tape adheres to the drywall without joint compound, so it’s as simple as putting a sticker on.

Use premixed, lightweight joint compound. It’s more expensive than regular joint compound, but it is 100% worth it. It’s so much easier to work with because the light texture makes it easier to spread and get even coverage. It also produces way less dust when you sand it down.

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How to Replace Drywall

Supplies Needed:

Step 1: Cut out damaged drywall

Use your pencil to trace the area you want to cut out. Try to trace out an area that has a stud on both sides, so you have something to screw the new drywall into. If that isn’t an option, it’s okay. Use your jab saw or oscillating saw to cut along your pencil line and remove the damaged drywall.

Step 2: Measure your hole

cutting drywall

Measure the size of your hole. Translate those measurements onto your new sheet of drywall.

If you have an electrical outlet or light switch, measure the distance between the edge of the hole and both edges of the electrical box. Mark those measurements on your drywall and connect the dots to create a rectangle.

Step 3: Cut new drywall

scoring drywall

Score the front of your drywall with a utility knife. If it’s a small board, hit it with the heel of your hand to snap the board. If it’s a large board, snap the board with your knee. Use your utility knife to cut the paper on the back of the board.

cutting outlets in drywall

If you’re installing over an electrical box, score the lines with your utility knife. Use your jab saw or utility knife to cut along the lines and create a hole for the electrical box.

Step 4: Dry fit your piece

Dry fit the piece of drywall. If it doesn’t fit, shave down the edges on the hole or on the new piece of drywall.

Step 5: Screw the drywall into studs

screwing drywall

If you were able to cut out a section that ends on 2 studs, screw 3 screws into each stud to attach the new drywall to the wall.

If your hole doesn’t align with 2 studs, remove your new piece of drywall. Insert furring strips, so part of the strip is tucked behind the wall and part of the strip is still visible in the hole. Screw through your original drywall and into the strips behind the wall to secure them. Then, add your new piece of drywall to the hole and screw that piece into the furring strips as well.

Step 6: Apply mesh tape

applying mesh drywall tape

Cut strips of mesh tape and apply them to all of the seams where 2 pieces of drywall meet.

Step 7: Apply joint compound

how to replace drywall

Add joint compound to your mud tray and make sure it is mixed and smooth. Clean off the edge of your broad knife and pick up a small bead of joint compound. Apply the compound perpendicular to the tape in small sections. Once you’ve finished a section, run your knife parallel on top of the tape to smooth down any ridges. Feather your edges by slowly reducing the amount of pressure you apply as you move your knife away from the patched section.

The wall doesn’t have to be completely smooth, but you need to ensure there are no valleys or gaps. You can sand down areas that are too high later on, but the only way to fix an area without enough joint compound is to apply more.

Step 8: Sand the wall

Use 120-grit sand paper to sand down the entire patch until it’s smooth. Feather the edges by applying less and less pressure as you move away from the patched area. If there are any gaps or low areas, repeat steps 7 and 8.

Step 9: Prime the wall

Apply 1 coat of primer to the entire wall. The joint compound and the finished wall have different textures and sheens. The primer will create a uniform top coat that will accept paint, wallpaper or tile mortar.

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