How to Repair Water Damaged Drywall

In a water damage event, it’s essential to quickly remove the water and dry your property. That way, you will reduce further damage to your home’s structure and contents, such as flooring, furniture, ceiling, and drywall (gypsum board). Depending on the type of flood and where water has intruded, the drywall should be either entirely or partially replaced. Read below to learn how to repair water damaged drywall.

Things to know before learning how to repair water damaged drywall

If wet drywall is caused by overhead flooding, the ceiling may collapse. Thus, when dealing with drywall ceiling water damage, your personal safety may be at risk. In this case, have your property’s structure assessed by a professional restoration company.

In addition, if the drywall water damage was caused by sewage backup, consult certified professionals for repairs. This kind of job involves safety issues and biohazard cleanup services that are often beyond the capacity of typical homeowners.

Before fixing water damaged drywall, locate and resolve the water source. Extract the standing water and dry the area. The longer the water sits, the greater the damage to your drywall will be.

How to repair water damaged drywall 

First, clear the area. Remove water-soaked furniture and building materials. Also, remove wet carpet and padding, or at least pull it back to allow the floor to air out.

Take safety precautions

When removing drywall, wear respiratory protection as some older drywall joint compound contains asbestos. Additionally, remove non-affected electrical outlets before tearing out wall material. Switch off the circuit breakers first. If the outlets have been flooded, remove and discard them.

Remove damaged materials 

Start by deciding how much drywall to cut out. If the water level was less than two-and-a-half feet, remove the wall material to a height of four feet. That helps when reinstalling full sheets of drywall. If the water level was greater than two-and-a-half feet, remove the wall material to a height of eight feet or the ceiling junction, whichever is higher.

If you don’t know the water level, inspect the drywall. Remove any cracked, crumbling or sagging drywall. But if it’s just damp and the water source was clean (e.g.,. a burst pipe in your home), you can likely dry it. Depending on the extent of the water damage, you may also need to remove damaged wall studs, flooring, cabinets, and ceilings. Next, it’s time to cut the damaged portions of the drywall.

How to cut drywall 

  1. Mark a straight line along the wall — above the point where water stopped wicking — using a chalk line.
  2. Cut along the chalk line one half or three quarters of the way through the thickness of the drywall. Use a utility knife.
  3. Loosen and remove the damaged portion carefully. To make that easier, knock a small hole in the damaged drywall using a hammer. Use the hole as a handle to gently pull back the drywall.
  4. Once you cut out and remove the drywall, take out all the insulation (fiberglass, mineral wool, cellulose, wood fiberboard, etc.). Even if it doesn’t seem wet, it likely is. If it’s foam plastic insulation, you can leave it in place and allow it to dry.

Dry the water damaged walls

Once the damaged drywall is removed, start drying the area around and inside the wall. Use high-efficiency blowers and dehumidifiers and open the windows and doors. Use fans to increase air flow behind walls and leave them running for at least two days so the studs and flooring can completely dry.

Note: avoid punching holes in walls. This practice doesn’t help the wall dry faster. Plus, it makes it harder to repair your drywall.

Sanitize and deodorize

Use a chemical sanitizer to prevent mold and bacteria from forming between walls. Avoid bleach as it doesn’t prevent mold from growing. To remove severe odors, use an ozone machine and leave it running for at least eight hours. Vacate the area while the ozone machine is running.

How to replace water damaged drywall 

Now it’s time to hang new drywall. First, measure the size of the hole to help you know how much to cut out from a new sheet of drywall. Put four drywall clips around the hole and secure each one with a drywall screw.

Then, insert the drywall pieces and secure them to drywall clips. Don’t over-tighten the drywall screws. Use drywall tape and joint compound to blend it in with the existing drywall. Finally, sand the area several times for a smooth wall surface.

Paint the restored drywall 

This is the final step in restoring water damaged drywall. First, make sure that the joint compound is completely dry as it would contain a lot of moisture. Then, paint the wall with a primer to help seal the area. After that, paint the entire wall to ensure the color is uniform throughout.

As you’ve noticed, the procedures of how to repair water damaged drywall are complicated and time-consuming. Everything needs to be done fast using the right techniques and tools.

To recap, this is how to repair water damaged drywall:

  1. Locate and fix the water source that caused the damage.
  2. Take safety precautions — wear a dust mask, rubber gloves, turn off the circuit breaker.
  3. Remove the damaged portions of the drywall. Cut them with a utility knife.
  4. Further dry the water damaged walls using fans and dehumidifiers.
  5. Sanitize and deodorize the area to eliminate musty smells and bacteria.
  6. Replace the cut-out portions of the drywall.
  7. Paint the restored drywall with a mold resistant paint.
  8. Call a restoration company to do all these tasks for you quickly and efficiently.