Pro Tip: How to Repair Torn Drywall Paper News & Opinion

Pro Tip: How to Repair Torn Drywall Paper


So you finally got around to removing that paneling or tile and RIP! Off comes some drywall paper (also called facing) along with it. Now what started as a fun update project has turned into an annoying repair project. The damage isn’t deep, but it’s unsightly. So what’s the right way to repair it? Well, why don’t you ask us a hard question? We’ve tackled patching a hole in drywall, and this will be easier than that. How to repair torn drywall paper and patch it up is a Pro tip you’ll want in your back pocket.

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Well That’s Not Tearable

1. Remove loose paper with a razor knife. You’ll surely have some ragged or hanging paper left from the tear, so use a razor or utility knife to remove it. The edges of the tear should be smooth against the wall.

2. Important: seal the exposed gypsum. The gypsum will absorp moisture from latex paints, so you must seal it to prevent blisters. You can use some drywall primer and sealer or even old oil-based paint that you told yourself you’d use or throw out but haven’t done either.

Pro Tip: How to Repair Torn Drywall Paper

Get muddy.

3. Cover the area with joint compound. Use a putty knife to spread a thin layer of joint compound (mud) over the area. You’re not just filling the torn area, you are creating a new surface so the joint compound should extend an inch or so past the edges of the tear. Apply the mud as evenly as possible but you’ll find that it may look uneven or pock-marked, especially if you’ve never done this before. Not to worry – read on.

Last Steps: Repair Torn Drywall Paper

4. Sand the area. It’s common to use a fine sandpaper such as 120 grit to sand the area. For larger areas you can turn to a bigger tool like the Ridgid Gen 5X random orbit sander. We’ve even used a multi-tool with a sanding accessory. However, we prefer a wet sand before the joint compound has completely cured. A wet sand doesn’t create fine airborne particles or dust on floor, and it gently removes the area’s high spots and fills the low spots. The curing time depends on temperature and humidity, but we like to give the area around 45 minutes to harden up. Touch the compound to make sure it’s not so wet that it comes off on your fingers. It should be firm but pliable. Use a damp sponge to gently sand the area and create a smooth surface with the rest of the wall.

5. Apply another layer of joint compound. What’s better than one layer? Two, of course. A second layer will likely be necessary to make the mud coverage wide and smooth enough to blend in. You’ll never notice the area once it’s painted if you do it correctly. You’ll likely want to repeat the sanding step as well.

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6. Paint. Here’s where the evidence of the tear disappears. Paint the area, and enjoy that invisible repair. Be sure to check out our quick clean-up painting tips, too.

If you have to repair torn drywall paper, hopefully this Pro tip will help.  If you’re a professional tradesman, and you have drywall tips, add them in the comments below—or contact us with your own Pro tips.

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