access hole in drywall - patching

How To Patch An Access Hole in Drywall (Step-by-Step!)

If you’ve ever needed to make a plumbing repair on a leaking pipe hidden behind a wall — such as a bathtub drain or shower valve — then you have experience with an access hole in drywall.

Cutting into the wall is something we’ve all had to do as plumbers or DIYers. But many times, that access hole is left unpatched. This is unsightly for homeowners. So I’m going to show you how to patch that access hole in drywall. Let’s get started.

How to Patch an Access Hole in Drywall

Patching a hole made to get at a leaky pipe is often the last step of a plumbing repair. It’s often left unfinished for future access. But for those who want a nice-looking wall, these are the step-by-step instructions on how to patch it. You will need these tools and materials:

  • Scrap drywall
  • Panel adhesive
  • Pre-mixed joint compound
  • Caulking gun
  • Putty knife
  • Coat hanger
  • Keyhole saw
  • Sandpaper
how to use a caulk gun for the first time - woman caulking
A caulking gun will make the job of applying the panel adhesive much easier.

1. Cut the Patch

  • Using a pencil and straightedge (like a ruler), rule off a square or rectangular section around the hold.
  • Transfer these measurements to a piece of drywall, cut the patch with a keyhole saw, and hold it up to the wall or ceiling to trace a more precise hole.
  • Cut out the traced area with the keyhole saw.
how to find pipes behind walls - use a keyhole saw on drywall
A keyhole saw is designed to cut into drywall. In step 1, you will use this to cut out your access hole.

2. Fit the Backing

  • Cut a second piece of scrap drywall slightly larger than the hole to be used as a backing for the patch.
  • With a bent coat hanger, poke 2 small holes in the backing, then thread a string through the holes.
  • Use the caulking gun to apply panel adhesive around the edges of the backing.
  • Place the glued backing into the wall or ceiling behind the hole and pull on the string to set the backing in place.
access hole in drywall - step 2
In step 2, you will apply string to the backing so you can pull it into place.

3. Fit the Patch

  • Remove the string from the backing.
  • Apply panel adhesive to the edges of the patch, and several thin beads of adhesive along the back.
  • Fit the patch into the access hole and press it firmly into place.
access hole in drywall step 3
In step 3, you can remove the string once the backing is in place. Now, you’ll want to get out the caulking gun and prepare the panel adhesive.

4. Fill the Joints

  • Use a flexible putty knife, apply pre-mixed joint compound to fill the crackaround the patch.
  • With even pressure and lateral strokes, smooth out the joint compound (with the putty knife) to conceal the seam.
  • Allow the joint to dry overnight.
  • If necessary, apply a second coat of compound with a wider putty knife to feather the joint. This softens the edges of the joint for a smoother, seamless finish.
  • When completely dry, use sandpaper for a smooth final finish (consider this the polish on your jewel of a job!).
access hole in drywall step 4
Your final step is mostly cosmetic. Try to make the edges as invisible as possible with the use of your putty knife and feathering.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let a pipe repair ruin the aesthetics of your home. With some basic tools and materials — and about an hour of your time — you can patch that drywall access hole to your leaky pipe. You’ll feel a lot better about it. And don’t worry, if you ever need to get back in, you’ll have an even easier time getting in for a repair.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you need help with an access hole in drywall or leaking pipes.

1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.

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