California Drywall Patch Repair (Step-by-Step Photos)

Holes in your walls happen. Whether it’s from hanging a frame in the wrong spot, kids that play rough inside, or in my case, your husband slipping down the basement stairs and his heel going through the drywall.

A large hole in drywall near carpet on the stairs

Yep, that’s what happened in our house. Finn blames his ginormous feet that don’t exactly fit on the steps, for denting a big hole in our basement stairwell. This hole has stared at me for months, begging me to finally fix it. The kids thought it was pretty cool and nicknamed it their “mouse house.”

Kids, I’m sorry to tell you that the mouse house is closed. Mama was finally able to patch the drywall! And the best part? I tried out a new-to-me method called the “California Drywall Patch” and I’m here to share the step-by-step technique.

Past Drywall Repairs & Tutorials

How to use the all in one tool to fill nail holes in drywall

I’ve done a few tutorials here on the blog about fixing holes in your drywall. Here’s the simple method I use to fix nail holes and this one dives into my tips to patch small holes with mesh drywall tape. Finn’s heel-sized hole was pretty big, so I was eager to try out a method for a medium-sized hole.

What’s A California Drywall Repair Patch?

A drywall patch called the California patch method

If you have a medium to large hole, the California patch is one of the most common ways to fix it. The technique involves cutting a piece of drywall to fit the hole and feathering the edges of the patch for a seamless look. As for the name, it’s widely believed to have originated from the state, but the exact reason for the name is unclear. It’s also called a “butterfly patch” in some parts of the country.

California Patch – Supplies To Grab

Drydex joint compound

Here are the drywall tools and supplies you’ll want to have on hand to get this DIY task done.

Here are the supplies you will need to make your drywall repair

As for the drywall sheet, you can buy these small one foot boards on Amazon or head to the drywall section at your local hardware store where they sell individual 4×4 foot boards. There’s also this patch kit that comes with all of the supplies above if you want to make things easier on yourself.

Cut The Excess Drywall

A jab saw cuts a piece of drywall out to make a rectangular hole

First, you want to get rid of the damaged drywall, making a clear square or rectangular pattern. The drywall near the hole is probably damaged and weak, so you want to make the hole a bit bigger. I measured the hole and cut a 3-inch by 4-inch piece out of the wall using a jab saw.

Mark The New Drywall

Mark the back of the new piece of drywall to create your California patch

I transferred those measurements to the back of a piece of fresh drywall, adding an inch onto each side. So, I then had a 5-inch by 6-inch piece of drywall.

Cut Your Patch To Size

Score and snap drywall to cut it to size

The cool thing about drywall is that you can easily score and snap it. Just run your utility knife across the back and then fold on the cut line to snap it off. There is no need to cut all the way through when you can easily bend it!

Score The Back & Peel Drywall

Cut your drywall using a utility knife

With my 5×6 inch piece ready to go, I scored the back of the drywall along the 3×4 inch area, making sure my utility knife didn’t go all the way through to the other side.

Cutting the excess drywall

The goal is to remove the outer inch of drywall all around your piece, while leaving the drywall paper on the front. Be careful during this step as you don’t want to rip the front paper.

How to create a drywall patch using the California method

Here’s my finished patch all ready to go!

Add Your First Coat Of “Mud”

How to patch a large hole in drywall

Dry fit your patch to make sure that it works in your hole. Once it’s the perfect size, add joint compound to the entirety of the rectangle on the wall, coating it thick! Also, add it to the back of your patch. It’s okay to use a lot of “mud” during this step.

Adding pink joint compound to the front of your patch

Push it into your hole and add more joint compound on the front side to coat the entire patch. Try to feather out the outside edge of the patch as you go, making sure that the drywall paper is secured well. Your joint compound will extend onto the surrounding drywall so it has a feathered look.

Because my hole is directly next to the stairs and baseboard, I cut off the excess drywall paper on the right side and bottom. For most California patches, you will keep all four sides of the paper on for a really nice seamless look and firm hold.

Let Dry & Sand

Sand your drywall

Spackle dries quickly, but joint compound needs quite a bit more time. I ended up waiting 24 hours before moving on to the next step. You want to ensure that it’s really dry and if your mud is thick, it can take awhile. The joint compound I like turns from pink to white when it is fully dried.

Once it was dry, I sanded it down with a medium-grit sanding sponge.

Add A Second Coat

Adding more coats of joint compound to conceal the patch

I then added even more joint compound to really camouflage the patch and feather out the edges. I let that dry and sanded the entire area one last time.

With the patch looking good, I caulked the trim at the bottom since the new patch butts right up to the baseboard.

Prime & Paint

After everything dried again, I primed the area using my favorite primer. I let this dry and then added two coats of the wall and trim paint. It is painted Clare’s “Greige” and once that fresh coat was on it looked fantastic.

How Did It Go?

The hole is gone thanks to this method!

Wow, I am such a fan of this method. I’ve used an adhesive mesh on larger holes in the past and I sometimes find that it looks slightly raised and noticeable even after lots of steps and TLC. This is a great way to create a seamless finish on your walls.

How to repair large holes in drywall using the California patch method

I would definitely recommend trying this technique out if your hole is over three inches or so.

Need Additional Drywall Help?

As mentioned, below are my past tutorials for fixing drywall holes. The one you choose will depend on your hole size. Between the California method and these two blog posts, you should be good to go when it comes to repairing the walls in your home.

Attach your patch right to the wall
fill nail holes in drywall using this nifty tool

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