Filling small holes and dents in drywall

They make us crazy – those little holes and dents that come from everyday life.

Fixing them is easy, in fact, I thought a blog post about it would be pretty dull, but then a friend mentioned that she didn’t have a clue how to fill the dents and small holes. For us, this is the last wall to paint as we get down to the final days of getting our house ready for sale. As you can see from the video, after I removed the paper the wall was in pretty bad shape.

The video clip is ultra short and lacks my usual voice over and professionalism, but it’s here for you to see three things:

(The music isn’t perfect (sorry to those country haters out there), but you try to find a song about walls that fits! ;))

1. Angle. Look at the angle and pressure The Renovator applies as he uses the putty knife. The angle is quite important as it means the difference between putty staying where you want it or sliding out.

2. Pre-scrape. You’ll see The Renovator scrape over a few spots with the edge of the putty knife to remove any bumps or imperfections. You can do this with sandpaper too, but here it’s a ‘last chance’ bit of prep work before the putty.

3. Consistency. Old putty won’t do you any good – if it has been around a while, it has probably started to harden up. It has to be thin enough to spread easily, but thick enough to not create bubbles or gravitational ‘sagging’. I think that’s what happens when we age – gravitational sagging. Hmmm. The pre-mixed stuff comes at the right consistency so there is no guesswork required!


Now, onto the nuts and bolts of this:

Holes are inevitable and keeping your walls in tip top shape will make your house look well cared for, and dare I say, cleaner. However, if you’re like me, holes only get filled when repainting a room. Perhaps if I live somewhere for more than a few years, I’ll end up repainting the same room (and filling holes) twice!

Size matters

How you approach the damage depends on the size of the hole. Small holes, like those from push pins, tacks, dents, a layer of peeled paint or peeled drywall finish paper can be filled by using a drywall filling compound (aka: drywall mud or putty) and a putty knife – this is what we’ve shown in the video. Medium holes, like the one from my boot heel and large holes, from say an oversized Tonka truck, require a few more tools. I’ll cover the small holes today and we’ll leave medium and large for another blog post.

Put a small amount of putty on your putty knife. Although The Renovator uses a trowel to hold a large supply of it, this isn’t necessary. Just put an amount about 3 to 4 times what you think the hole needs to be filled on the end of the putty knife either by scooping from a pail or small tub of putty or by squeezing it from a mini tube. Hold the knife at an angle to the wall and apply pressure on the handle, causing the knife to flex. Pull down or across the hole as you apply pressure. Although the technique is simple, it does take a bit to master it. Watch how the Renovator does it in the video to capture his ‘moves’. (Did I just type that?!)

The putty takes a while to dry, so best to leave it until the next day or until it no longer feels cool to the touch. Sand slightly with a lighter grit (80-120) sandpaper to ensure there are no lines, dents, bubbles, etc. You may need to do a second coat of putty. This is often the case with larger holes. Before priming the walls prior to painting, be sure to wipe them down with a damp rag to remove drywall dust. Don’t use a wet rag – you risk making the putty wet again.

So there you have it! It’s great to be able to do this yourself and have new looking walls even if they’ve been around the block once or twice! And that’s why I love being The Renovator’s Wife.


Ronda Payne

A writer since she first held a pen, Ronda Payne – aka: the Girl with a Pen, is passionate about words. In 2007, she kissed ‘real jobs’ goodbye and began her true career as a copywriter, non-fiction freelance writer (magazines and other periodicals) and creative writer.

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