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Gypsum Wallboard

Gypsum wallboard is used as a backing for many wall treatments, wallpaper, fabric, tile and even some paneling. Standard wallboard is composed of a fire-resistant gypsum core, sandwiched between two layers of paper. Some wallboard is water-resistant for use in bathrooms and other damp areas. Though panels are usually 4 x 8 feet and 1/2 inch thick, dimensions can vary.

Wallboard panels must be fastened to wall studs or furring strips and attached with wallboard nails, annular-ring nails or adhesive. Usually, joints between panels are covered with wallboard tape and several layers of joint compound.

Wallboard repairs range form fixing minor dents to replacing an entire panel. When the work is done, the repaired area should blend with the surrounding surface.

Repairing a Dent

  • Sand the dent site and fill it with one or more layers of all-purpose joint compound.
  • Allow each layer to dry before applying the next.
  • When dry, sand and prime.

Repairing a Popped Nail

  • Hammer in and dimple the nail.
  • Drive and dimple another nail just below to hold it in.
  • Cover the dimples with joint compound.
  • When dry, sand and prime.

Repairing Small Holes

  • Brush the holes clean and dampen them.
  • Use a flexible, narrow-bladed putty knife to fill the holes with spackling compound (or use patching plaster.)
  • When dry, sand and prime.

Repairing a Large Hole

  • To repair a large hole, the damaged section of wallboard must be cut out and replaced with a new piece of the same thickness. After taping and sanding the joints to smooth them you'll have to finish the surface to blend closely with the adjacent area.
  • Locate the wall studs to remove the damaged wallboard.
  • Use a keyhole saw and utility knife to cut out the section, centering side cuts over studs.
  • CAUTION: To avoid danger from electrical wires behind the walls, shut off the power to the circuit and run a light from another circuit.
  • Remove the piece with a prybar.
  • Pull out remaining nails.
  • Cut the replacement piece and smooth rough edges with a perforated rasp. Make certain it is the same thickness as the original and measure and cut to match the damage section.
  • Nail the new piece in place to the studs.

Taping and sanding to blend the repair with the surrounding surface is done in stages over a period of days.

  • Get together the tools you'll need: ready-mixed all-purpose joint compound, 2-inch perforated or mesh wallboard tape, 4, 6 and 10-inch taping knives and No. 600 grit silicon carbide sandpaper.
    NOTE: To finish water-resistant wallboard, use water-resistant joint compound and follow the package directions.
  • After applying a large daub of joint compound across a joint with a 4-inch taping knife, draw the knife along the joint at a 45-degree angle to the wall. Repeat on all sides.
  • Center tape over each joint and press down.
  • Remove excess compound with a knife, feathering the edges.
  • Thinly apply compound over the tape.
  • Let dry for 24 hours.
  • When dry, wetsand the compound to remove minor imperfections by wetting the compound with a sponge and sanding along the joints with sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block.
  • Apply a second coat of compound using a 6-inch taping knife, feather the edges and wetsand when dry.
  • Apply a third coat of compound using a 10-inch taping knife.
  • Feather the edges of the third coat 12 to 18 inches out using a 10-inch taping knife.
  • Try to remove any ridges in the compound.
  • Allow to dry for 24 hours and give a final wetsanding to remove imperfections.
  • Wipe off sanding residue with a damp sponge and let the compound dry.
  • Apply a primer or base coat of paint, or for wallpaper, seal with shellac or varnish.
  • TIP: Never sand the wallboard itself, the scratches may show through the finish.
  • CAUTION: Wear goggles and a painter's mask when sanding.

Replacing a Wallboard Panel

Whether your wallboard is attached to the studs with nails or adhesives, the removal procedure is the same.

  • Use a utility knife to slit through the taped joints.
  • Punch through he center of the panel with a hammer or prybar and pull off pieces using both hands.
  • Work from the center and use a broad-bladed prybar to pry the panel edges off the studs.
  • When the entire panel is removed, pull out any remaining nails with a claw hammer.
  • If the wallboard is attached with adhesive, you can leave the backing paper on the studs.
  • Using a keyhole saw, cut a new panel to fit the size of the opening, making certain to measure and mark the panel for door, windows, electrical receptacles and switches.
  • Mark stud locations on the floor and ceiling.
  • Position the new panel over the opening, supporting it with a 1x4 and a prybar.
  • Nail the edges to the studs with wallboard nails.
  • Also nail the panel to the top and sole plates and to the studs behind the panel.
    NOTE: Nails should be 8 inches apart and 3/8 to 1/2 inch from the panel edges. Panels can also be double nailed for extra holding power.
  • Add a second nail 2 inches from each initial nail and space pairs 12 inches apart.
  • Drive all nails so the last blow dimples the panel surface.
  • If your wallboard is a backing for paneling, you may not have to tape the joints (consult your local building code).
  • For walls that will be painted, wallpapered, texture-finished or tiled, you must tape all joints and cover all nail heads with a joint compound.
  • After applying a large daub of joint compound across a joint with a 4-inch taping knife, draw the knife along the joint at a 45-degree angle to the wall. Repeat on all sides.
  • Center tape over each joint and press down.
  • Remove excess compound with a knife, feathering the edges.
  • Thinly apply compound over the tape.
  • Let dry for 24 hours.
  • When dry, wetsand the compound to remove minor imperfections by wetting the compound with a sponge and sanding along the joints with sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block.
  • Apply a second coat of compound using a 6-inch taping knife, feather the edges and wetsand when dry.
  • Apply a third coat of compound using a 10-inch taping knife.
  • Feather the edges of the third coat 12 to 18 inches out using a 10-inch taping knife.
  • Try to remove any ridges in the compound.
  • Allow to dry for 24 hours and give a final wetsanding to remove imperfections.
  • Cover the nail heads with a joint compound using a 4-inch putty knife and filling the dimples with compound.
  • Apply a second coat when the first coat is dry.
  • Wipe off sanding residue with a damp sponge and prime if you plan to paint.

Professional Tip: Locating Studs

If you can't locate a stud in your wall using a magnetic stud finder, try probing into the wall in an inconspicuous place about 2 inches above the floor with a nail or drill. When you find a stud, measure 16 or 24 inches from that point to find the center of the next stud.

 

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