How to Fill Screw Holes in Drywall

  • 01 of 06

    Fixing Small Holes in Drywall

    Man using cordless screwdriver
    TommL / Getty Images

    Holes in drywall come in two forms: drywall screw depressions, or divots, and actual holes.

    When you install drywall, you drive drywall screws into the material, barely sinking their heads just below the surface of the paper. The paper flexes but does not tear. A smooth, low crater about 1/16-inch is formed. A second type of screw hole is just that: a hole, not a crater. The hole could be remaining from shelves or cabinets that have been removed from the wall. 

    Fixing and filling either type of screw hole is essentially the same process, just with a slight variation.

    Project Metrics

    • Working Time: 2 minutes
    • Total Time: 6 minutes
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Materials Cost: $5 to $10

    Tools and Supplies You Will Need


    • You can use a small putty knife if a drywall knife is not available. It is smaller, so less excess mud will hang to it, but more passes may be required.
    • When patching screw holes in textured drywall, you will need to follow up by re-texturing the patch. The patch will be smooth and flat, while the textured part of the wall will be bumpy. Cans of spray-on texture are available that allow you to spot-texture sections of your wall.
    • It helps to use pre-mixed drywall joint compound. This compound has been mixed to the proper consistency and is ideal for small jobs like this.
    • Instead of joint compound, you can use a similar product often called spackle. Like joint compound, spackle is made from a gypsum base. Because it is lighter in weight and airier, spackle dries faster than joint compound.
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  • 02 of 06

    Fix Loose Drywall Paper (Holes Only)

    Drywall paper that extends outward beyond the wall will not be glued down by the drywall compound. You must fix this paper before making the patch. This applies only to actual holes in the drywall and rarely to craters in drywall paper.

    First, try pushing down the paper with the smooth end of a screwdriver handle. This helps to push down the paper and form a slight crater.

    If the paper is extensive, gently pare it away with a utility knife.

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  • 03 of 06

    Butter the Knife and Wipe Excess Mud

    Dip the end of the drywall knife into the mud, a process known as buttering. Try not to get the entire knife full of mud, as this will only create more mess. Initially, your drywall knife will remain fairly clean. You will even be able to keep one side of the knife generally free of mud if you are only fixing one or two holes.

    Use a shop towel or paper towel to wipe off excess mud, especially from the side of the drywall knife. It is not necessary to get the back and sides of the knife completely clean. The goal, instead, is to remove any hanging mud that will drop off or smear.

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  • 04 of 06

    Make the First Pass With the Knife

    Run the drywall knife in one direction favoring the edge of the knife more than the flat part. Press firmly to ensure that the mud fills the screw hole.

    Once you have cleared the screw hole you can remove the knife from the drywall.

    Check to make sure the hole is filled flat with mud. Sometimes there will be little craters, and it is best to fill those craters in this step.

    At this point, do not worry about getting the surface flat. That is the job of the next step.

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  • 05 of 06

    Flatten the Mud in the Screw Hole

    Make a second stroke perpendicular (90-degrees) to your first stroke.

    The purpose of this stroke is to flatten out the mud.

    Use the edge of your knife to scrape off the excess mud that may end up in the vicinity of the patch.


    Make just one or two runs. Too many passes may have a counterproductive effect, wiping mud out of the screw hole.

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  • 06 of 06

    Let the Mud Dry and Fill a Second Time

    Pits often form in drywall screw hole patches. Instead of trying to get this right the first time, it helps to let the material dry and patch it a second time. In most cases, this will fix pits and depressions.