Walls – How They’re Built

They are all around us

Walls keep the Elements out and a Controlled Environment on the Inside. Walls Separate Rooms, Closets, Restrooms, Dens, Living Rooms, Kitchens and other areas of our Home. When the Home is in the Construction Phase, Walls are Built out of 2×4 or 2×6 studs which are Douglas Fir (wood), sometimes Metal Studs or even Concrete is used for certain Applications.

The Framework is Covered in a Variety of Materials like:

  • Drywall (known as Gypsum Board – finished in a variety of textured looks)
  • Plaster (hard like concrete – in a variety of textured looks)
  • Paneling (wood or synthetic)
  • Wood (usually vertical panels)
  • Tile (porcelain or ceramic)
  • Glass (in solid pane or window form)

The Different Materials used on the Exterior of the Home Consist of:

  • Stucco (which is a Concretematerial – in a variety of textured looks)
  • Siding (wood, vinyl or recycled materials – hung horizontal or vertical)
  • T1-11 (plywood in 4″ or 8″ grooves – hung vertically)
  • Glass Block (in a wide variety of sizes and looks)

Most of these materials whether inside or outside need to be sealed (protected) for a variety of reasons. With a variety of products. Mainly to last as long as possible without having to replace them from rot or decay. Repairing walls inside or outside of the home can be done by the homeowner once they become familiar with the materials that they are about to repair.

In between the outer and inner walls there could be fiberglass insulation and possibly a vapor barrier on the outer wall to protect the wall and us from the outside elements. Be careful not to damage or remove these barriers. They are there for a reason. If you do have to remove insulation or vapor barriers, make sure you replace them in full sheets and you wear the correct clothing to work with these materials.

Repairing walls

When attempting repairs on the inner walls of your home, take note of what kind of material is being used. Normally gypsum board (drywall) is used these days in 1/2″ thickness. Older homes can have a mixture of materials like plaster or vertical wood planking or even paneling. Paneling could be mounted to the wall on top of drywall or just mounted to the wall studs (framework). Wood planks are mounted to the framework, usually at the top and bottom and the hardware is hidden by decorative moulding, so it looks seamless.

The Basics

Wall repair, for the homeowner, is easier than you may think. Now we are talking about minor damage in drywall like, fist size to basketball in sized holes. When sizing up the damage, pay attention to the thickness of the wall material and the framework inside the wall. Most wood framework, called studs, is put together on a 16″(inch) on center schedule for fastening purposes and strength of structure. That means when you measure the center of one stud, it should be 16″ on the center of the next stud and so on. This is also good to know for when you hang heavy objects on the wall. It gives you a measured map of the wall for securing to the studs.In the initial building phase of the wall (framework), the top and bottom plates (which hold the studs between the two plates vertically) are marked going in one direction (left to right or right to left, depending on what else may be joining into that wall…for example…a door, another wall joining this wall, etc.).

In the case of the large hole, we will need to open up the hole to extend to the studs on center. In other words, find the two outer studs of the hole and get that measurement. A 2 by 4 (2×4) is normally 1 1/2″ by 3 1/2″ (1 1/2 x 3 1/2). So the center of the stud would be 3/4″ (3/4 + 3/4 = 1 1/2). It doesn’t have to be perfect but, you need to have an edge of wood to screw the drywall to. So when you measure, kinda eyeball the center of the stud on one side and measure over to the next stud and that is the number you want going left and right. This could measure 16″ to 32″ or maybe 48″. Remember that the measurement could be off the 16″ formula.

Dry Wall Repair

Cut a piece of drywall so it overlaps half of the stud on the left and the right, so you can fasten it to the stud left or right. The height of the repair piece should be cut to more than cover up the hole. Now take your cut piece of drywall and put it over the hole and trace around the piece so you get a mark to cut. This is so the repair piece of drywall will extend from one stud to another which enables you to fasten it at two edges.Now that we have cut and traced the new piece of drywall over the hole, it is time to cut the square or rectangle we have drawn.

You will need a drywall saw. A small pointed type of saw so you can push the point in to start the cutting. Cutting on top of the wood (stud) is a little more difficult. Use a utility knife for this and be careful not to cut yourself. Keep your hands away from the cutting direction.

When cutting on the stud it will not come out as a clean straight edge, this is okay. Once we have a matching hole to our matching repair piece of drywall, we are ready to install the drywall. Set the drywall square piece into the hole and fasten it with drywall screws. About 4 – 6 inches apart on the screws up and down the edge should be fine, just make sure the head of the screw is below the surface of the existing drywall. Now we are ready for finishing this up.

Dry wall repair finishing

The next phase in this repair is to mud (joint compound) the seams of the drywall piece we just installed. You have some choices of which kind of joint compounds to use. Retail outlets have fast setting compounds or overnight drying compounds. The fast drying compunds are just that, fast, you have to know what you are doing when you use them. I suggest an all purpose pre-mixed compound if you are new to mudding and have the time.

To begin, we need to have some tools: a mud pan, a 4” putty knife; a 6″ or 8″ putty knife and some joint tape. Start with putting some joint compound (mud) on the seam all the way around the repair. Then put a full piece of joint tape on top of the mud. Go over the joint tape with some more mud and press slightly to get the mud into the seam.

TIP:I personally do not use joint tape on this type of repair, due to the tape sits above the plane of the wall. Do not over load the seams with too much mud the first time around. Put some in or on the seams and let it dry. once the mud is dry, fill any voids with more mud and wait for it to dry. You may have to do this a few times which is best. Now we have to sand the dried mud flush so you can not feel the repair. Now all you have to do is prime and paint to match surrounding area