On this page:
- How Do Pros Charge for Drywall Repairs?
- Should I Hire a Pro to Repair My Drywall?
- What Affects the Cost of Drywall Repairs?
- How Much Should My Repair Project Cost?
- Preparing for Drywall Repairs
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
When walls and ceilings bear the scars of normal wear and tear--or of more substantial damage--minor drywall repairs are usually all that’s needed to get them back into shape. Whether the drywall in your home suffers from something simple, like cracked joints and nail holes, or something a little more extreme, like water damage or a large hole, pros can usually repair the damage without having to start from scratch. The type and extent of the damage can influence the cost of drywall repairs, along with a few other factors you should keep in mind when planning for the job.
How Do Pros Charge for Drywall Repairs?
What to Expect From an Estimate
Since every repair scenario is unique, contractors typically base their estimates on the time and materials they expect the job to take. Some pros may offer a bid up front for a fairly predictable repair, but others may only provide an estimate and bill you for the time spent and the materials used after the job is done. In most cases, the labor bill is much higher than the tab for materials. The supplies needed for most drywall repairs, such as joint compound (mud), paper or mesh tape, screws, and drywall sheets are relatively inexpensive, but the work can be time consuming and require several trips to allow drying time for up to three coats of compound, making it a high-overhead project for a pro.
What is Included?
The scope of repair work really depends on what you coordinate with your contractor, but basic drywall repairs generally include the application of patches, tape, and mud, and a final sanding for a smooth finish. If you need to have texture, primer, or paint applied, you need to specify that to a pro, or may even need to turn to a second contractor to complete the finish work, depending on who you hire.
Should I Hire a Pro to Repair My Drywall?
How Big is the Job?
Most minor repairs, such as filling nail holes and hairline cracks, are projects most do-it-yourselfers can handle with minimal skill and a putty knife for less than $10 in materials. However, if your job is a little bigger, it might make more sense to hire an expert who has the tools and skill needed to get a quality finish. If your repair involves substantial damage and you don’t have the expertise needed--or an assortment of drywall tools—bringing in a pro will probably take less time and yield better results.
The Finished Product
It takes quite a bit of skill to replicate an existing texture or to achieve a flawless smooth finish. So if your repair area is large, you will probably need an experienced pro to create an invisible repair. Even small repairs that don’t require advanced skills will need to be primed and painted over to make them blend in with the surrounding area, so if the scope of the job is more than you are willing to take on, leaving the work to an expert will help ensure no steps are missed and you get the best results possible.
What Affects the Cost of Drywall Repairs?
How Bad is It?
The nature of the damage to the drywall surface defines the scope of the job and, naturally, a bigger job will take more time, effort, and material to complete than a small, cosmetic repair. If your project just calls for a single application of spackle or caulk, you can probably get the job done in a single trip by a pro for a minimum service fee. If your repair requires more extensive patching, filling, taping, and mudding, you will be likely to see your pro a few times. Since each trip costs him time and money, it will add to the bottom line for you as well.
Who’s Doing the Work?
There are several types of pros who commonly offer drywall repair services, from drywall, general, and remodeling contractors to handymen and even painters. The type of pro you hire could affect the cost of the job, so be sure to consider the scope and size of the project when hiring.
Drywall contractors may seem like a natural choice, but many specialized pros like these prefer to stick to installation work, or at least large-scale repairs, and charge a premium for small jobs. If your repair falls within the course of a larger remodeling project, a general or remodeling contractor can line up the work along with other jobs, but you may pay 10 to 15 percent more overall.
Similarly, if you need the walls or ceiling spruced up for painting, check with your painting contractor to see if combining drywall repairs with standard prep work is an efficient option. Finally, if the repairs are isolated or minor, hiring a handyman may be the most cost-effective route, since these pros commonly take on small jobs and have more flexible scheduling than other contractors.
How Much Should My Repair Project Cost?
The specific location of the repair area in your home can have some bearing on the cost of the job. Areas that are difficult to access, such as high ceilings and stairwells, will generally cost more to repair than standard walls and ceilings. Working in tough spots takes more time than simpler area, and even if you do the work yourself, renting ladders, staging, or platforms to reach difficult spots can add to the cost of the job.
Minor drywall fixes in a small area or a single room can often be completed in just a couple of hours, though the work typically spans a few days. Filling and smoothing dings, minor dents, nail holes, hairline cracks, and other blemishes requires minimal material and is often done at a minimum service fee per trip. Depending on how many times the pro returns to apply coats of mud and sand the surface, a simple repair may cost between $50 and $200.
Working on a large scale job or repairing more extensive issues, such as water damage, large holes, and failed seams and corners, requires more material and skill than touching up small blemishes. This type of work also takes longer, especially on the initial trip, so overall costs are higher with the complexity of the work. Replacing a section of drywall that was cut out to repair a plumbing leak could take an hour or two on the first trip, plus two or three return trips, and will require wood furring strips, screws, drywall, tape, and joint compound to get the job done. A job like this is likely to cost $150 to $400, depending on whether it is done independently or as part of a larger project.
Location Always Matters
In addition to its general influence on the cost of labor, your location can be a factor in how much a specific contractor charges you. If your pro has to travel a significant distance from his shop or other jobsites to apply coats of mud and sand your drywall repair, you may be charged more per return trip than if your place isn’t out of the way. If your project is suitable for a handyman, it may be cost-effective to combine it with other jobs you need to have done so you can get the most out of the minimum fee the pro will charge you.
Preparing for Drywall Repairs
Going it Alone
If you decide to tackle your drywall repairs on your own, take the time to study up on the right techniques and materials for the application. Remember that, in general, it’s a lot easier to build up light coats than it is to sand down a heavy one, and putting too much mud on at once can result in cracking. Before you start throwing mud around, try out your skills on a scrap piece of drywall or plywood so you can perfect your method and get an idea of the drying time you will need to allow between applications.
Prep the Site
Drywall work is messy. Whether you do the work on your own or hire a pro, you can save a few headaches by making sure the work area is clear and easy to navigate. Put down a drop cloth to protect floors from dropped mud and excessive dust, and if the job is large and adjacent to a space that is in use, consider sealing the doorways with plastic sheeting to keep sanding dust from making its way into other areas of your home.
If a bit of mud does find its way onto your flooring or other surfaces, resist the urge to wipe it up immediately. Joint compound is usually easy to scrape or pluck off a surface after it has dried and hardened, whereas wiping it while wet is more likely to just spread the mess around and make it more difficult to remove, especially from carpet and textiles.
|$10 - $25||$140 - $250||$350 - $600|
Drywall repairs are usually an economical project, but can be messy, disruptive, and time-consuming. Projects can range from minor cosmetic fixes to major repairs, so the scope of our examples may help you anticipate the difficulty and cost of your own project.
DIY Touch-Ups: $10 - $25
- • Extent of Repairs: Getting a room ready for a fresh coat of paint involves filling nails holes and a few minor dents and dings, and taping up a crack or two along drywall seams. These repairs make for a perfect DIY project, saving the cost of labor entirely.
- • Location of the Work: Working in an average-sized room with standard eight-foot-high ceilings doesn’t require any special equipment, or even a helping hand to hold a ladder and hand up supplies.
- • The Big Picture: Since the project is in preparation for repainting, the whole room will get a coat of primer to make the repairs undetectable under the new paint. Since painting is also a great DIY project, most homeowners can spruce up an entire room for just the cost of materials.
Hiring Out the Tough Part: $140 - $450
- • Extent of Repairs: A more significant project, like patching in walls after replacing a window with a smaller one, can be handled quickly and expertly by a professional. A job like this could take $40 to $60 in materials and require three or four trips to apply and sand three coats of joint compound for a smooth finish.
- • Location of the Work: Since the work is easily reached on a wall, a pro won’t need to bring in any staging or extra help to get the job done, so labor costs are kept relatively low.
- • The Big Picture: Taking on the priming and painting yourself limits the pro’s share of the work to the actual repair and keeps the total tab reasonable. Hiring a painter or carpenter to finish up the trim or paint could add another $125 to $250 to the bottom line.
Like It Never Happened: $350 - $600
- • Extent of Repairs: A common, but somewhat complex, repair involves patching a hole cut into a ceiling to make a plumbing repair. The job requires installing a new piece of drywall, taping and mudding the seams, and replicating the texture of the remaining ceiling over the patch area.
- • Location of the Work: Since the repair is on a ceiling, it is more difficult and time-consuming than a similar repair on a wall surface. If the ceiling is a standard height, no special equipment is required, but completing the repair on a ceiling over 10 feet high could add over $200 to the basic cost of the job.
- • The Big Picture: Though the scope of the repair stops at texturing, it will be necessary to prime and repaint the entire ceiling in order to hide the new work. Doing this phase of the project on your own will only add material costs of $50 or so to the bottom line, but bringing in a painter could cost $400 or more.
Level of Difficulty
Most beginning do-it-yourselfers can handle making small repairs of nail holes, fine cracks, and minor blemishes on a drywall surface. Though a bit more skill is required to create a smooth finish over a larger repair area such as a seam or patch, neither level of repair requires an expensive investment in specialized tools.
It can be difficult to achieve a flawless smooth surface or blend in texture, so if you don’t have the time or desire to practice your technique, bring in a pro to get the right finish the first time. Keep in mind that it is often economical to hire a single pro to complete several related jobs at one time, so look around for other projects you can combine with your drywall repair to get the most for your investment.
Drywall Repair Service
If the scale or scope of your drywall repair is outside your skill level, or if you just don’t have the time to take care of the job yourself, connect with a Drywall Repair Contractor to get the project finished. Even though it may take several days to get the job done, a pro will make quick work of the job and provide a lasting and attractive repair. Each Pro in our network of contractors has been verified by our in-house team, so you can be assured you are hiring someone with the right credentials for the job.