OT, calling all handymen/women

OK, some of you know that I had an a/c leak in my attic while I was off obliviously floating down the Current River last week. The a/c man came out Mon. and took care of the leak, but now I’m left with a mess in my spare bathroom where I had to cut two small holes in the ceiling sheet rock to relieve pressure Fri night when I got home. I also wiped away the wet popcorn stuff and pulled some of the wet tape off the sheetrock seams, just out to the dry edge, then cut it flush with a utility knife.

I had a gentleman come out to take a look and when he called today with the estimate to fix it I almost died!!! 475.00 (tear out sheetrock, replace, tape&bed, reapply popcorn and replace insulation in the attic.) Now this is a small spare bathroom (actually my cats bathroom)so I said to this man…I’m sorry I don’t mean to be rude,am I’m sure you do excellent work, but there is NO WAY I can afford to pay that much, isn’t there a cheaper way to do it, say plug the holes and reapply the popcorn??? Well, yes he says, I can do that for about 200.00 or so.

Well, I’m thinking that I’m pretty handy, and why couldn’t I fix it myself if that’s all it really needs??? It’s really not a big area, the sheetrock doesn’t need to be replaced, I can apply spackling or something to the holes,but can I apply the popcorn texture stuff myself???

There are many other paddling related things I would consider higher priorities than paying someone nearly 500.00. Does 200.00 sound reasonable for what he is considering doing? Can I indeed do it myself?

Bummed in TX

I got an idea
I am a plumber, and often when we have to fix leaks in walls, we will cut a small hole to repair through. To fix it we use a “cleanout cover” screwed over the hole. You can get them up to 8 inches in diameter, they are a round white plastic or chrome metal disc with a hole in the center. (about $2.00)

Or…if you have a screw gun, or drill, place a couple boards in the attic across the hole, screw through the existing sheetrock to secure them, cut a new piece of sheetrock that will fit the hole, and screw it to the boards. Tape and mud the seams, sand smooth and you are good to go. Thats probably what the repair guy would have done. (about $50.00)

I think I have seen ceiling texture in aerosol cans before.

Replacing the insulation in the attic is easy, you just buy a roll of it, and roll it over the uncovered area.

You can also buy “access panels”. They are just white plastic rectangular panels. Buy one that will cover the hole, cut the hole so it will fit inside, and glue it to the ceiling. (about $20.00)


– Last Updated: Jul-22-09 9:41 PM EST –

most of this is a lot of time, in multiple small steps, so contractors will accordingly charge for their time and multiple trips, thus the quotes. The $200 quote doesn't sound out of the ballpark for patching, given the number of return trips (but I'm not seeing what he is and you are)

However, you live there, you have no travel time, and if you will take your time step by step you can do it for much less, probably a third of the lower quote incl. materials. You will save even more if you have friends who have scrap drywall in the right thickness, or who might have a pail of mud and some trowels, a roll of tape already started, etc.

First, be sure you are hanging a thick sheet of plastic to segregate the "cats' bathroom" from the rest of your home, to control the inevitable dust. Tape it down on the floor where you don't need to pass through or weight it w. 2x4s or any scrap dimensional lumber. You want a plastic wall. You also want to put electrical or duct tape loosely over any electrical switches or outlets. Loosely bag the light fixture. You don't want fine dust in any of them either. Clear out all personal items.this all makes final cleanup way easier.

Think about ventilation. Can you run a bathroom fan? Is there a window? Can you position a window fan drawing air out?

Prep is everything. Take your time.

if the sheetrock (drywall as we say here)repair is really just patching in a couple of wet areas, that is pretty easy. If it is wet, or if it got wet and dried, it has to go. Be conservative. Take a little more out than you think you need to. A keyhole saw or a little drywall saw is real nice for this.

Take your time and do the fitting, taping, mudding, sanding and priming step by step. Depending on the area(s) replaced you might have to screw it in to the joists or whatever support is there. (See what the existing support is and what size fasteners were used and go get more of those) Remember to sink the screw heads in a little so they won't "pop" above the drywall later on the public side (the side you see and care about) and mud over them carefully feathering out in a good circle around each one.

You can bring in a heater if you want to accelerate the drying time for any given step. Don't run it when you turn in at night and watch your clearance w. anything flammable.

If you wet sand it is less dust, less mess. Remember you are going to use different grits of sandpaper - coarsest to finest, to get the new drywall and seams smooth and ready to prime. Start w. something like 100 or 120 grit and go down to 220 or even 300 for the final sanding. I prefer a random orbit sander with a 5 or 7 hole hook & loop (peel and stick disks in the various grits). Borrow one or rent one - it is just faster and more consistent than hand sanding.

As far as primer for moisture prone areas like bathrooms, I like to use Kilz. In fact, you may as well prep your whole ceiling for repainting and prime it w. Kilz. Bathroom ceilings generally aren't that big and now is the time to get a clean freshly painted ceiling. Ceilings are not especially anyone's favorite job so you might as well get it done now.

Wet insulation - if it's the loose popcorn kind it's a little messy. Be sure to wear a good quality OSHA rated dusk mask w. a built in ventilating slot. My old standby is the MSA Affinity Plus model PL-201-2 (NIOSH approved).

They are not expensive: $8- $12 to protect your lungs. You can get double bang for your bucks using it while you glue minicell w. Dap Weldwood gel contact cement LOL.

For replacement, you can just lay in some kraft faced roll insulation in the area above the ceiling as it is easier to handle than the blown in stuff. It would be a good energy savings just to lay a fresh course over the whole bathroom ceiling while you're up there and before you close it off.

Be sure to cover all your bare skin cuz fglass shards are extremely itchy and very hard to work out of your skin. Wear gloves, full sleeves and pantslegs, along w. glasses and your dust mask. You can get lots more tips from the Dow Corning website or your local lumberyard/hardware store.

If you can, get a helper to shine a trouble lamp on the areas you are working on. Also, since there is ladder work involved it is always a good idea to have someone else there. I guess that is my MIOSHA training and construction experience poking through. I was working alone once trying to finish something, rushing and tired, and slipped my knee off the joist and went partway thru the bathroom ceiling. Besides feeling stupid I could have really f'd myself up going all the way down and landing on the vanity. Plus I had a whole new repair to deal with.

Be safe and have pride in your accomplishment! Then next time pay it forward and help someone else learn how to do it :D

p.s. the plumber guy said it much more conciselyand I agree w. 75% of it. BUT I would not just stick an access panel or plate cover just anywhere. It would look kinda funny,esp. with several holes to disguise.

I am just wired to do a goodlooking complete job - totally smooth surface where you could not tell where the repair was. Plus you may as well just prime and repaint the whole bathroom ceiling, most ceilings need it and you have the area cleared out anyways.

If that is not a high priority for you then go for the cheap quickie. I wouldn't judge ya.

However, someday, if you own this dwelling and want to sell it, someone is going to look at it and wonder where else you cut corners.

Do it yourself
It’s an opportunity to learn and save money at the same time. Just take each issue one at a time, read and learn and then just do it.

$450 by the way, doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.


Andy and I
we are going into business together. We are both very used to contractors’ quotes, we may as well make up our own '-)

how big are the holes?
Leigh, if the holes are small, I’ve patched things like that with the sticky mesh and joint compound or whatever it is they sell already mixed up. I’ve tried mixing it myself, but I like the pre-mixed. If the hole is bigger than a crack, they also sell for a few dollars, a patch that has a metal piece in the middle with the sticky mesh over it and on the sides.


You can also buy spray cans of popcorn touch-up with different sized spray nozzles to match different texture patterns. It isn’t hard. If I can do it, you can too!



or to repaint & retexture the ceiling: 2 gallons for $25, way more than you’d need.


I’ll send “the bride” over
We just finished a whole new dining room addition.

I hang it, and she finishes it.

No sense repeating it, but Redriver canoes second paragraph is how I would fix small holes.

Go to Lowes and see if they have any “handouts” on how to do it.

I know they used to have them.



plenty of DIY
video and illustrations…

there is a DIY section here as well…

always helps to have some pictures…


I’ve repaired dozens of holes
in drywall, ceiling and walls. It’s not hard, just time consuming, in relatively small blocks of time.

First asses the amount of damage, how much got wet? Is it soft, still damp, buckled, bubbled, falling off?

Since it is a small bathroom, it just might be easier to do the whole thing, the hardest part with that is the joint with the walls. Can you see it from above? Remove all wet insulation, toss it. If you can see the damaged area, try to poke some holes in it, use an awl or ice pick. If it’s easy to poke through, that area has to be replaced.

If you do end up patching, be neat. Cut square holes, use a square to mark them, then cut. It’s easy to cut a square patch, than an irregular one. Use the correct thickness drywall, ceilings are usually 5/8 inch. A full 4x8 sheet isn’t much money. To attach it use some sticks across the hole, screw through the ceiling to secure them first, then screw on the patch. 5 gallon stir sticks work great, and they are free. Scrape off the popcorn first, at least 6 inches all around. Here is the secret to a good patch job(many of my customers comment on how the patch disappears), remove the paper off of the drywall 1-2 inches around the area to be patched. Cut an outline with a knife, then peel and/or scrape the paper off. do the same to the patch. This will create a depression, similar to the edge taper, for the tape and mud(dry wall compound, spackle) to sit in, and makes it easy to level with the rest of the ceiling. It’s not as hard as it sounds, you can afford to work slow and careful.

Use adhesive mesh tape, don’t overlap, it leaves a bump. Apply light coats of mud, sand with 100 grit paper. If you apply light coats, you won’t have to over sand.

When it’s smooth enough, you decide when that is, you can get popcorn patch in a can. Depending on the popcorn size, the patch may be noticeable, or not.

Good Luck. Feel free to ask any more questions.

BTW, the words “plumber” and “small hole” don’t often collide in the same sentence.

Sounds like a good idea! But you’ll have to move back to NJ. Things are better here than in Michigan, and besides, you have family here.:wink:

they can’t afford us '-)
and anyways I think the paddling’s pretty damn good

in Michigan. I KNOW the paddling community here is awesome.

There are minor considerations like selling a condo in a down market and NJ’s incredibly obscene tax rates, but hey, the paddling is what I thought of first. Obviously I’m either hopeless as an adult or improving as a paddler…

Craigslist is your friend
There are a lot of people out of work now looking for odd jobs. You can offer whatever salary you think would be reasonable. Screen carefully—those ads attract a lot of nefarious characters.

Got a photo so we can advise you better? Depends on the size of the holes. Drywall tape is not that hard to work with.