Fixing a Hole in Plaster

Behind the front door, just about where the door knob smacks into the wall, we had some pretty bad plaster. Luckily it seemed to only be confined to a smallish area.


Before we crossed the hallways off our list, I decided to fix it. Here’s how.

1. Pull out the chunk of bad, crumbly plaster. Keep going until you get to plaster that is still keyed to the lathe. My hole was a lot bigger than the initial parts I thought were bad.

As you can see, my hole is more like an amoeba rather than a nice neat rectangle. How the heck am I going to cut a piece to fit that?!

2. Make a template.
Grab a scrap piece of paper & channel the elementary art class that covered rubbings. This probably would have been easier with a crayon or piece of chalk but all I could find in my purse was a pen. Lightly rub over the edge of your hole. The rubbing will create a dark line around the edge of your hole.

3. Grab your rubbing, a sharpie, exacto knife & some drywall.
{Note: I’m only using green drywall b/c that was the scrap we had lying around. Unless the patch is going to be somewhere that gets a lot of moisture, you can use regular drywall.}
template, sharpie, blade, & drywall

4. Using the blade, cut out your template.
cut out template

5. Using the sharpie, feather out the edges from the template to the drywall
feather edges

It should leave an outline like this.

outline on drywall

6. Cut along inside of your outline.
cut along outline

This part takes forever; be sure you’re using a really sharp blade!



perfectly cut drywall patch

7. Smear the edges of plaster in joint compound. This seals the edges so you don’t keep getting plaster crumbles everywhere.

Here’s where I goofed a little. I got a little over zealous and smeared joint compound on the lathe too; would not recommend doing that. I had to scrape it off the lathe before installing my patches, so they’d lay flat.

So remember – edges=YES, lathe=NO

After the joint compound was dry, I tested my drywall patch. I put a screw in the middle so I could easily get it back out.


As you can see, it’s a little shallow. I needed something behind the drywall to beef it up a little.

8. Cut a piece of luan to fit. (trace drywall piece on luan & cut)
Piece of Luan

I used my dad’s cut out tool but you could probably also used a scroll saw or even a little hand saw if you’re meticulous & patient.


The luan doesn’t have to be as perfect as the drywall. You’re looking to support the drywall from behind and for it to provide a little depth.

Now that we’re all cut out, lets move on to installation.

9. Using another piece of scrap paper, trace the outline of your hole and mark where the edges of your lathe are.


You’re going to want to screw each layer directly into the center of the lathe, so you need to know where that is.

10. Using your lathe template, mark where you want your 4 screws to go in the luan. I put mine on the outer edges, 2 centered middle (vertically speaking) of the upper strip of lathe & 2 in the middle of the lower strip.
X marks the spots

11. Pre-drill the screws into the luan.
pre-drilled luan

12. Make sure you screws do in fact line up with the center of each lathe.

Split lathe would be a bitch and a half to fix, so take your time.


13. Once satisfied everything is lined up correctly with the lathe, place your screwed luan on top of your nicely cut drywall.

luan on top of drywall


It should leave 4 little marks. This shows you where the luan screw are going to be UNDER the drywall. This way you can avoid them when installing your drywall.

marked drywall

14. Using your lathe template, roughly mark where the lath are on your drywall.

15. Place drywall on top of luan and screw together, avoiding the luan screw spots you’ve marked.


16. Back out all the screws.

17. Screw the luan into the lathe

18. Fit the drywall over it.


And screw the drywall through the pre-drilled holes of the luan and into the lathe.

(I had to add another screw in the lower right corner because my drywall broke.

19. Spackle, using several nice THIN coats.

Then sand and repeat. It took me 3 coats of spackle & sanding to get a nice smooth finish.


And that’s what it takes to go from this to this in 19 easy steps!
holefinished hole

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5 Responses to Fixing a Hole in Plaster

  1. caitie says:

    how. did. you. know. how. to. do. that.

    i am like speechless. i think i would have ended up replacing the whole wall rather than doing that! how long did these 19 steps take? (i’m sure longer since you took a picture of each step haha)

  2. Kim says:

    Good work!

    This is an awesome example of how something “small” and “simple” takes TONS of steps and a chunck of time. haha

  3. mrslimestone says:

    Wow – that is an impressive tutorial.

    I really can’t even tell you what my contractors did to patch up our plaster. I know it wasn’t anywhere near as meticulous as your process. They had a hell of a lot of holes to cover. (I’m pretty sure they used some kind of cement to fill the whole and then plastered over.)

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