How to Repair Water Damaged Walls: Drywall, Sheetrock, Etc.

Water damage to walls is an unfortunate but common problem that many homeowners face. Left unchecked, water damage can lead to mold growth, structural damage, and other issues. The good news is that repairing water damaged drywall is often a DIY project that doesn’t require professional help. This guide will walk you through the steps needed to properly repair water damaged walls.

Signs of Water Damage on Walls

The first step is identifying if you have water damage and pinpointing the source. Common signs of water damage on walls include:

  • Discolored or stained areas on the wall
  • Bubbled or warped drywall
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Cracks in the drywall or plaster
  • Mold or mildew growth

Try to locate the exact spot where the water is entering from. This could be from a leaky roof, plumbing leak, broken window, flooded basement, or other water source. Finding and stopping the leak is crucial before repairing the water damaged drywall.

How to Repair Minor Water Damage on Walls

If you have a small area of water damaged drywall that is less than a few square feet, you may be able to repair it fairly easily:

Step 1: Cut Out the Damaged Drywall

Use a utility knife to cut out the damaged section of drywall. Try to cut along the wall studs so the hole will be easier to patch. Remove any insulation that got wet.

Step 2: Dry Out the Wall Cavity

Use fans and dehumidifiers to completely dry out the wall cavity before proceeding.

Step 3: Replace Insulation

If the insulation got soaked, remove it and replace it with new insulation.

Step 4: Cut a New Drywall Patch

Measure the hole and cut a piece of new drywall to fit.

Step 5: Secure the Patch

Screw in the patch using drywall screws long enough to reach the studs. Apply drywall tape along the seams and finish off with drywall compound.

Step 6: Prime and Paint

Once dry, prime and paint the patched area to match the rest of the wall. The water damaged drywall is now repaired!

Repairing Extensive Water Damage on Walls

For more extensive water damage covering large wall areas over several square feet, the entire damaged drywall will need to be replaced. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Turn Off Electricity

Turn off power to the area at the breaker box to prevent electrocution.

Step 2: Remove Damaged Drywall

Use a reciprocating saw or drywall saw to cut out and remove all visibly water damaged drywall. Inspect the studs and insulation for damage. Allow the area to completely dry out for several days.

Step 3: Repair Any Structural Damage

If the wall studs or other structural components got damaged, these will need to be repaired or replaced first. Severe water damage may require calling in a professional.

Step 4: Replace Insulation

If insulation got wet, remove it and install new insulation.

Step 5: Install New Drywall

Measure, cut, and screw sheets of new drywall to the studs. Use screws long enough to secure the drywall firmly.

Step 6: Mud and Tape the Seams

Apply drywall tape over all seams between drywall sheets. Cover tape with drywall joint compound and allow to dry before sanding smooth.

Step 7: Add Drywall Texture

Match the wall texture by knocking down the drywall compound with a drywall knife. Allow to fully dry.

Step 8: Prime and Paint

Once everything is fully dry, apply primer and paint over all the new drywall to blend it with the existing walls.

Repairing water damaged drywall takes time but saves the expense of replacing the entire wall. With some diligent drying time, new materials, and joint compound work, water damaged walls can look as good as new again. Just be sure to address the source of the water leak so that the problem does not return.

Common Water Damage Problems on Walls

Water damage on walls can come from a variety of sources. Here are some of the most common types of water damage on interior drywall surfaces:

Plumbing Leaks

Leaky pipes in walls are a common culprit. A slow drip can cause stains and damage over time. Burst pipes or valves can lead to massive flooding and water damage.

Roof Leaks

A compromised roof can let rainwater seep in and drip down walls. Flashing issues, damaged shingles, and poor drainage cause roof leaks.

Basement Flooding

Heavy rains, blocked foundation drains, and other issues can lead to water seeping into a finished basement and soaking drywall.

Appliance or Fixture Failures

Washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters, and other appliances can leak or rupture and spray water on nearby walls.

Broken Windows

Damaged window seal failure during storms can lead to water intrusion and damage along a wall.

Condensation Dripping

Incorrect humidity levels and poor insulation can create condensation that drips from cooling ducts in ceilings.

Any water stained or damaged drywall should be repaired promptly before mold develops or the integrity of the wall is impacted.

Tips for Repairing Water Damaged Drywall

Here are some handy tips to get the best results when repairing water damaged drywall:

  • Completely dry out affected walls before repairing. Use fans, dehumidifiers, and ample drying time.
  • Wear protective gear like goggles, gloves, and a respirator when removing moldy drywall.
  • Carefully cut and remove damaged drywall sections along the stud lines.
  • Double check that electrical wires are disconnected before beginning work.
  • Match existing drywall thickness and purchase extra boards for large jobs.
  • Screw new drywall sheets into studs using drywall screws at least 1 1/4″ long.
  • Apply multiple thin coats when mudding drywall for best results.
  • Consider hiring a drywall pro for overhead ceiling repairs or textured finishes.
  • Prime repaired patches before painting for optimal paint adhesion.
  • Address the water leak source to prevent repeated drywall damage in the future.

With some diligence and the right materials, homeowners can tackle water damaged drywall repair and restore their walls to like-new condition. Just take all necessary safety precautions when working with electrical systems and soggy drywall.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to repair water damaged drywall?

For minor DIY repairs, expect to spend around $50 to $150 on materials to patch small areas. Extensive professional drywall replacement can cost $500 to $2,000 depending on how much needs repair.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damaged drywall?

Most standard policies cover sudden water damage like pipe bursts. But long-term leakage damage may be excluded. Check with your insurer on coverage specifics.

Can you just paint over water damaged drywall?

Never simply paint over water damaged drywall. Moisture gets trapped underneath and leads to peeling. The damaged drywall must be removed and replaced.

How do you repair drywall after removing wallpaper?

Fill any gouges with joint compound, sand smooth, and apply gardz sealer before priming to seal the surface for painting after wallpaper removal damages drywall.

What kind of drywall should be used in a bathroom?

Use moisture-resistant drywall like GREENBOARD in bathrooms to withstand humidity. Regular drywall can swell and deteriorate over time.

Repairing water-damaged walls may seem daunting, but is usually a manageable DIY project. With some handy tools, new drywall materials, proper drying, and finish work, those unsightly water stains and damage can disappear. Just be sure to address the source of the water leak as well. Your restored walls will look great and prevent further water damage.

Contact Southeast Water Restoration to handle all your water damage problems, professionally.