How to Fill Drywall Screw Holes

Spackling tools
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  • 01 of 06

    Butter Up the Knife

    How to Fill Drywall Screw Holes
    Lee Wallender

    Your drywall already has screws that are driven in and properly sunk, so that their heads are just below the surface of the paper, creating a smooth crater.

    Butter up your knife with a small amount of mud, more properly known as drywall compound.

    Tools and Materials Needed

    • Drywall compound ("mud")
    • Putty knife: I like to use a putty knife, rather than a 4" ​drywall knife, as is generally recommended by other guides. It's smaller, so less excess mud will hang to it. Also, I like the way that putty knives can flex.
    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    Wipe Excess Mud from Knife

    How to Fill Drywall Screw Holes
    Lee Wallender

    Initially, your drywall knife will remain fairly clean -- you will even be able to keep one side of the knife free of mud -- but after a while, the mud will be everywhere.

    Use a shop towel or paper towel to wipe off excess mud, especially from the side of the drywall knife.

    You don't have to get it spic-and-span clean; you just need to get off any hanging mud that will drop off or smear.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    First Stroke with Drywall Knife

    How to Fill Drywall Screw Holes
    Lee Wallender

    Run the drywall knife in one direction favoring the edge of the knife more than the flat.

    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Continue First Stroke All the Way

    How to Fill Drywall Screw Holes
    Lee Wallender

    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's best to fill those craters in this step.

    This is the "fill" run with your knife. Don't worry about getting the surface flat. That is the job of the next step.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Flatten the Mud in the Screw Hole

    How to Fill Drywall Screw Holes
    Lee Wallender

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

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

    Tip: Make just one run. Multiple runs may have a counterproductive effect, wiping mud out of the screw hole.

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Scrape Off Excess Mud from Wall

    How to Fill Drywall Screw Holes
    Lee Wallender

    Use the edge of your knife to scrape off the inevitable excess mud, indicated in the photo with the red ovals.

    At the most, you will have to make 4 strokes, usually less. Be sure not to touch the filled hole itself.

    Note: In the close-up, I have highlighted an imperfectly-filled hole. Earlier, on my first stroke, I should have examined it to make sure it was completely filled. I did not. So, now I need to press in a little more mud to fill that area.