Fixing Holes – Nap Time DIY

Fixing Holes – Nap Time DIY

Cover page for fixing holes during nap time

Getting work done during Nap Time

Skip down to the second heading to get right to the HOW-TO

Finding time to DIY when you have toddlers is tricky. My day gets divided up into four types of time.

1)before boys wake up – ugh, don’t even talk to me I’m not getting anything done except prepping for the day. Where is my diet coke?;

2)boys are awake – a couple days a week I’m lucky enough to have a sitter, otherwise it’s toddler time. Nothing is getting done except errands with the boys and sometimes some cooking while they play in the kitchen;

3) NAP TIME – pretty much the only time I can get ‘projects’ done; and

4)Twins are in bed for the night – time to make dinner, prep for tomorrow, write, relax (aka, veg in front of the TV), clean up, and read (all in 3-4 hours, hah!).

I remodeled my laundry room this fall. It took 6 weeks of working here and there. Stay tuned for my post about that. With young toddlers it just is not safe to have tools and materials out with them around. Once your kids can (and WILL) follow simple directions, like “don’t touch that” or “put down Mommy’s power drill” then enlist them to help. Kids are great at fetching, holding, and helping with many safe DIY projects. My kids are still in the I’m-going-to-look-you-dead-in-the-eye-and-do-the-thing-you-just-told-me-not-to stage. My twins will usually double check when I set a boundary. By that I mean, one will violate it (no hitting mommy with your hockey stick, for example) and get a consequence (right now it’s usually Time Out for the toy) then they other will DO THE EXACT SAME THING to see if the rule applies to them as well. They are not fit to be DIY helpers just yet.

When I finished my laundry remodel I discovered that I made an annoying and problematic error. When I mounted my drying rack to the wall I centered it in the space. Sometimes I pick aesthetics over easy or practical considerations, sue me. I used heavy duty drywall anchors and thought I would be fine. Nope. The top anchors were already working their way out of the wall, after just one month of use. I was annoyed at myself for having to fix it and then FURIOUS at myself when I discovered I could have mounted it just 2 inches over and been in studs. I took it down so it would stop damaging the wall and then over the next month fixed it during nap times. I spent less than 2 hours total spread out over 5-6 nap times.

four panel pic of wall damage
     ARG! So close to finished when I discovered that my wall mounted drying rack was pulling out of the drywall because I didn’t use the studs.

Getting it done 20 minutes at a time: a note.

This project lends itself nicely to being broken up. You have to wait for patching compounds to set, so no matter what it’s going to take more than a day to get done. When you are working 20 minutes at a time over an extended period it’s important to CLEAN UP all the way, EVERY day. This makes me bonkers, but I HAVE to do it. Sweep up your dust. Clean your tools and put them away (!! seriously, this is a mega-toughie for me, put your tools away). Especially with patching compounds, wash your putty knife and get all the material off of it. A dirty putty knife will rust and be unusable because it will scratch and mar your work. Reset your space. It is an emotional and physical drag to have a project partially done – my brain NEEEEEDS things to get finished. The more you get things back to normal between opportunities to work, the easier it is to live with and the easier it is to go back to the project. I like to keep all the tools I for a current project in one place. I especially like these Sterilite Shoffoffs handled tubs, most tools fit in them and they easily store away. It is so easy to get a quick few minutes of work in here and there when all of your tools are in one place.

three panel pic of cleaning up
            Nap Time DIY means you’ve GOTTA clean up after every step and put your tools away.

start here

How-to fix drywall damaged by wall anchors

Tools and materials you need:

Box cutter or utility knife, scratch awl, drywall patch, vinyl spackle, patching compound with primer, sand paper (180-220 grit), putty knife, paint, and paintbrush.

Three panel pic of materials I used
The patch I like is a fiberglass self adhesive layer and a metal mesh. I cut it to down to size so one package made several patches

A note on filling compounds: I prefer working with hot mud setting compound; but that has a learning curve (I’ll post a video of how to mix and use in another post). Hot mud has more preparation and clean up so it is sort of annoying for little jobs like this. For this repair I used two different materials: a vinyl spackle and a patch with primer. The vinyl spackling resists cracking when it dries and is good for filling in holes and patches – it has a thick gloopy texture and is easy to work with. The patch with primer is wonderful; it saves you a step later. It has a soft fluffy texture and sands easily. The reason I picked two materials is that the patch with primer alone would most likely crack in the large voids as it dried; this would then require an extra step of filling with patching compound (and be more likely to crack in the future). Two compounds were easier than an extra round of steps.

Step one – remove the rack and find the studs

A screw in the wall
A reference screw reminds me: don’t be stupid.

Remove the Rack as soon as I realized the problem to stop it from getting worse. The anchors pulled through the drywall and damaged/raised the drywall in the area around the holes.

Using a stud finder I located the stud so I could rehang the rack. 2 inches!! away?!! I drove a screw into the stud to make sure I had a good location. I removed the screw and left the hole for reference when mounting later. You can see the hole it left in the pics.

Step two – remove damaged drywall and make a patch

Cut away any portion of drywall that is damaged. Around small holes make sure any loose paper is cut away and remove anything that rises above the level of the drywall. Around big holes you will have to cut out to stable, undamaged, drywall. For larger repairs you would use a different technique, but for these 2 inch spots I used a little cheat. I cut a rectangle around the hole.

four panel pic of patching drywall.
You can see how I cut the rectangle to fit the patch so it would match exactly. You can also see how I removed the outer layer of drywall so I the patch would be level. In the last panel you can see the paper towels I used in the hole behind the patch.

This drywall patch is great for fixing small holes. I trimmed the metal backing down to cover the entire hole and extend 1/4 inch around it. Then I traced the patch over the hole with a punch awl to mark where I needed to shave down the drywall some. When you patch drywall you build up material over the patch. When it’s a small hole it’s difficult to hide without feathering the material out quite a distance (I’ll get more into this later). Since this is just a laundry room and the repair was going to be obscured by a laundry rack I wasn’t too worried about a perfectly flat finish.

Using a box cutter and a fresh blade I shaved down the paper and some of the drywall in the rectangle around the hole. This lets me install the patch at the level of the drywall and means I need to do less finish work. CAUTION: for larger repairs this will compromise your drywall. The paper is part of the structure of the board. I would not do this for any hole larger than 3 inches across. Make sure that no paper or patch fibers are sticking up or hanging out. They will cause problems when you go to start patching. Before I applied the patch (it’s self adhesive) I loosely stuffed some paper towels into the larger holes to give the patch some backing to catch the filling compound.

Step Three – Fill the holes, cover the patch, and repeat.

Four panel pic of filling holes with vinyl spackle
I used Vinyl spackle for the first layer of patching. The last panel shows the dried product, and the single hole shows how the material is slightly receded from the wall.

Using a putty knife scoop a small amount of vinyl spackle onto the blade and push it into the holes. Work the material into the mesh of the patch, pressing it in and around the repair. You are trying to embed the mesh and fill it with material. Using the putty knife scrape as much additional material off the drywall at and around the hole – you can skip this step but it will mean you need to sand before the next step. The material in the holes and patch should be slightly recessed from the surface of the drywall. Give this 8-24 hours to cure. In my case it was a full week before I had some Nap Time I could use for the material.

The patching compound with primer works like a very light icing. Using your putty knife begin adding material over the holes and patches. Spread the material across the hole and out from it several inches. Several thin coats works best. Here I left extra material over and around the patches to make sure I covered everything and could feather it away from the patch. Let this dry 24 hours (see there is a difference between drying and curing – but I’ll get into that another time).

Four panel pic of patching drywall
Here you can see how the patching compound is spread over a larger area than the patch itself to feather the edges into the rest of the drywall. The hole that remains in the left hand pics was my reference for the stud location.

Step Four – Sand, prime and paint.

Sand smooth. Depending on how smoothly you applied your patching compound you will have more or less sanding to do. This patching compound is light and sands easily. I start by using a six inch putty knife and run it over the dried patch to knock any loose or high spots off. Just scrape it a couple times over the dry patch. Then using a 180-220 grit sand paper start sanding (the lower the number the rougher the sand paper – if you start with 180 you may need to do a little with 220 to remove any obvious scratches). Go with a light touch making sure not to remove too much material. You are trying to get an even finish that feathers out over the patch.

Patch before and after sanding
Sand paper grits go from low numbers that are very coarse to higher numbers that are more fine. 220 is a nice grit for sanding patches if you don’t have to remove too much material. If your patch is very bumpy or rough you might choose to start with 180 and then go to 220.

If this repair was in an open section of wall I would do a third, thin coat with the patching compound that covered twice as much area – probably connecting the two patched areas to hide them some. But since this was going to end up behind a laundry rack I wasn’t super particular. Getting it done outweighed making it perfect – especially since it is hiding.

Painting over drywall repair
Even with patch with primer you NEED two coats of paint. You can see here how one coat was not enough to hide the repairs.

Since we used a patch with primer in it we can skip that step. Hooray! I pulled out my tub of touch up paint for the room – I always set a couple cups aside in a plastic tub that is labeled with the room, color name and information from the paint store. They will even print you two labels if you ask them. Paint your first coat, cover the patch and the surrounding area. Allow to dry before you do a second coat. You definitely need two coats of paint to get coverage that matches.

One coat of paint and two coats
One coat above. Two coats below. You gotta do two coats. 

Step Five – reinstall rack.

I used a level to make sure the rack was level across the top when using the reference hole. I then marked the screw locations with my handy-dandy scratch awl. It was useful to have an extra set of hands for this step. I drove the top left screw and then the bottom right screw. I double checked that the rack operated correctly and then drove the remaining screws. Then I patted myself on the back for getting it done, it was bugging the heck out of me to have that one nagging thing wrong in my otherwise perfect laundry room – watch the blog in February for pics and a post about the laundry room remodel.

Drying rack open and closed
Part of me HATES that the rack is no longer centered in the space. The window and door frames make it soooo obvious. But I already proved to myself that I needed to be in the studs, so, oh well. The patches are all but invisible

Fixing minor annoyances prevents problems and is good for the soul

I could have very easily left the drying rack up for some time before it actually fell out of the wall. Only the top two holes had failed. But, if I waited it would have cause me to have four or six patches to do, rather than two patches and four holes to fill. It drove me bananas to have to take the rack down and wait to fix it – those holes mocked me every single day I went in the room. My PERFECT laundry room that I killed myself to get done was no longer done. This unchecked item on my punchlist was an emotional drain. Not to mention that the folding drying rack is perfect for drying delicate items and hanging up work shirts as I pull them out of the dryer

Pic of remodeled laundry room
My laundry room is currently, without a doubt, the most organized prettiest room in the house right now. So long as I don’t think about the rack being off center too much, I LOVE it *wink*.


I’m a champion ignorer. Even when something annoys me, I can compartmentalize things off my radar pretty easily. Lots of easy DIY aren’t critical issues. But once you get them done. PHEW! what a relief. Even when I was in the middle of the project being able to see the progression from one step to the next gave me an immense sense of accomplishment. And now that it is done, I am the queen of DIY and a badass of mega-proportions. Bask in my glory. Get some of your own. Fix a hole. You can do it, even if it’s only a few minutes at a time while your kids are (hopefully) sleeping. Seriously, if I can do this, so can you. And looking at these pictures I can now totally see that painting the door trim and molding are next on my 20 minutes at a time list. Cause, dang, that looks UGLY now.


Hugs to anyone who made it all the way through this massive post. Feel free to message me or post in the comments if you have any questions about your own remodeling job.




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