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5 Ways to Repair Screw Holes in Drywall for Reuse

If you have driven a screw into drywall without an anchor, the best way to reuse that hole is by installing a plastic wall anchor. If the hole is too big for an anchor, or an anchor has pulled out of the wall, use a toggle bolt or molly bolt instead. Alternatively, you can cut out a section of the drywall, back it with a 2×4, and install a new patch of drywall. Or, you can secure a 1×4 board over the drywall, screwing it to studs. Once painted, the board will not be prominent, but it will serve as a secure place to drive screws.

How to repair screw holes in drywall for reuse

Can You Reuse Screw Holes in Drywall?

You can reuse a screw hole in drywall if you use a secure wall-mounting system such as wall anchors or toggle bolts. However, screws should never be driven directly into drywall unless they are being driven into a stud. Screws driven into drywall will strip easily, creating holes in the wall that require repair.

  • Screw holes in drywall can be reused if you install a sturdy mounting system.
  • Plastic anchors, toggle bolts, and molly bolts allow you to reuse holes in drywall.
  • Never drive a screw directly into drywall unless there is a stud behind the drywall at that point.
  • Unanchored screws cannot support much weight and will pull out of drywall.

Even weights as low as 2 pounds (1 kilo) can rip a screw out of drywall. A simple plastic wall anchor can increase the holding weight of a single screw in drywall by up to 25 pounds (11 kilos).

Can You Drill into a Spackled Hole?

A drywall hole that has been filled with spackle will not support a screw. Spackle, also known as joint compound or “drywall mud,” is not as durable as true drywall. Joint compound will shrink and pulverize easily when a screw is driven into it. If you attempt to install a screw or anchor in joint compound, it will pull out of the wall.

  • Spackle is not durable enough to fill a screw hole for reuse.
  • If you attempt to insert a screw, anchor, or bolt into spackle, the fastener will pull out of your wall.
  • Patch damaged drywall with a new piece of drywall (as shown below) to make a durable repair.

Instead of patching screw holes with spackle for reuse, you’ll need to replace the damaged drywall with a new drywall patch. Drywall is pressure treated and sandwiched between layers of paper. This allows it to support anchors, toggle bolts, and other fasteners without falling apart.

How Do You Fix a Screw Hole in Drywall for Reuse? [5 Methods]

Depending on the severity of the hole in your drywall, different methods may be required to reuse the screw hole. Below, we’ll walk through the best methods, starting with the simplest one for small holes. Then, the methods will become more advanced, including tactics for repairing wall damage to ensure your screws stay in place.

Use a Wall Anchor

If the screw hole you wish to reuse was originally just a screw driven into drywall, you might be able to make it strong enough for reuse by adding a drywall anchor. Use a hammer to tap a plastic drywall anchor into the hole gently. If it fits snugly, it’s the perfect solution.

  • Test to see if a plastic drywall anchor from this kit will fit the hole in your drywall.
  • If you can drive an anchor into the hole with a few taps from a hammer, the drywall anchor will make the hole reusable.
  • If the pilot hole is too small for the drywall anchor, enlarge it using a drill and drill bit.
  • If the hole is too large for a drywall anchor, use a bolt-type fastener or patch the drywall.

If the hole in the wall is too small to accept the drywall anchor, use an electric drill equipped with a drill bit to enlarge the hole. On the other hand, if the hole is too large for a drywall anchor to fit snugly, try the next method on this list.

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Replace Anchors with Toggle Bolts

If wall anchors have failed, loosened, or torn out of drywall, then it’s time to upgrade to a stronger fastener. Toggle bolts are an excellent option. They can hold up to 50 pounds (22 kilos)—twice as much as a wall anchor—without tearing out of drywall. Also, holes where wall anchors have come loose are often a perfect fit for toggle bolts because of their larger size.

  • Use these toggle bolts where wall anchors have failed.
  • Toggle bolts can hold up to 50 pounds (22 kilos) while wall anchors can only hold up to 25 pounds (11 kilos).
  • Insert the toggle bolt into the hole until the wings expand and brace against the backside of the drywall.
  • If the hole is too large for the toggle bolt to remain firmly in place, the drywall needs to be patched.

To install a toggle bolt, fold the spring-loaded wings back along the shank of the bolt. Then, insert it into the hole in the drywall until the wings unfold and brace against the back of the drywall. Then, tighten the bolt. If necessary, use a drill and drill bit to enlarge the hole so that you can insert that toggle bolt.

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09/19/2021 12:06 am GMT

Use Molly Bolts

Molly bolts are a similar solution to toggle bolts. Like toggle bolts, they can support up to 50 pounds (22 kilos) per bolt. This makes them excellent for supporting shelves and closet rods. To use molly bolts:

  • Consider this kit, which includes wall anchors, toggle bolts, and molly bolts for all your fastener needs.
  • Use a drill and drill bit to pre-drill a hole large enough for the molly bolt to be inserted into the wall.
  • Tighten the molly bolt by turning the head clockwise.
  • Tightening the molly bolt will cause the casing around the bolt to fold into a tripod shape, bracing against the back of the drywall.
  • If the stripped screw hole is larger in diameter than the molly bolt, patch the drywall before installing a fastener.

Because toggle bolts and molly bolts are larger in diameter than screws and anchors, they often fit perfectly in stripped screw holes. However, if the damage is extensive enough that the bolt cannot fit snugly and brace against the drywall, it’s time to perform a more extensive drywall repair. The following two methods are for larger repairs.

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Cut and Patch Drywall

If the drywall is too damaged for anchors or bolts to fit snugly, it’s time to repair your drywall. To do so:

  • Cut out a 4–8 inch tall (10–20 cm) section of drywall that spans between two wall studs.
  • Cut away ¾-inch of drywall on either end of the hole to reveal half of the stud on either end.
  • Cut a length of 2×4 to span the distance between the studs.
  • Use screws to attach the 2×4 piece to the studs on either side. The 2×4 should be attached so it is flush with the front of the studs (the side closest to the drywall).
  • Cut a piece of drywall to fit the opening that is now backed by a 2×4.
  • Use drywall screws to attach the new piece of drywall to the existing studs and the new piece of 2×4.
  • Patch and paint the drywall.
  • For future hanging purposes, drive screws directly into the new 2×4 behind the wall studs.

By cutting out the damaged section and replacing it with a new piece of drywall, you ensure a durable repair. Plus, the repaired portion will be backed by a wooden 2×4. This makes hanging items on this portion of your wall a breeze.

Add a Board Over Drywall

Rather than cut out an entire section of the drywall, add a 2×4, and then patch the wall, there is a simpler solution. This involves attaching a 1×4 board over the damaged drywall. Although it can sometimes be less attractive, once painted, this method works great for little-seen areas, such as closets and pantries. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Use this stud finder to locate the wall studs to the left and right of the stripped screw hole.
  • Most wall studs are 16 or 24 inches apart, depending on the home.
  • Cut a length of 1×4 board to cover the screw hole. Make sure it is long enough that it can be attached to the wall studs to the right and left.
  • Use screws to attach the 1×4 board to the wall studs. Use the 1×4 to cover the area with the screw hole.
  • Caulk the screw holes and the edges of the 1×4 board.
  • Paint the board the same color as the wall.
  • Drive screws into the 1×4 board for a secure way to hang items.

A thin board screwed to the wall and painted to match is unobtrusive. Then, you can drive wood screws into the board to hang whatever you need. Wood is much more durable than drywall, so the screws won’t pull out easily.

How Do You Fix Screw Holes for Reuse?

To fix drywall screw holes so you can reuse them to hang items, you should try one of the following methods:

  • Insert a wall anchor into a stripped screw hole, then drive your screw into the wall anchor.
  • Use toggle bolts where a wall anchor has failed.
  • Try molly bolts as a high-strength fastener where screws and anchors have torn out of the wall.
  • Cut out the damaged section of drywall and replace it, making sure to back it with a section of 2×4.
  • Attach a 1×4 board over the damaged screw hole. Screw the 1×4 to wall studs. Then, drive screws into the 1×4 to hang items.

These methods range from simple repairs to more complex. Wall anchors, toggle bolts, and molly bolts are the simplest methods. Usually, all they require is drilling a pilot hole and inserting the fastener. Repairing drywall or securing a board over the drywall should only be used when damage is so severe that simpler methods won’t work.

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