Patching Up Holes in the Kitchen Ceiling

Apr 15, 2014 | Kitchen, On the Cheap, Projects

So a while ago we finally hired an electrician to get rid of the school cafeteria fluorescent lights in the kitchen.  I hated them and should have booted them when we first moved in, but better late than never.  I had the electrician install recessed lights and they make the ceiling look taller which is great because we’ve got such low ceilings in this house.

So the kitchen went from this:



To this:

Kitchen Wide Angle


Kitchen Back

Before all this ceiling beautification, I patched the holes that the electrician left behind:

Hiles in Ceiling

and painted the ceiling a nice crisp white.

Painting the ceiling was a piece of cake so long as I used my extension pole, otherwise it was “fill the roller with paint, climb up the ladder, roll the paint, climb down the ladder, move the ladder to next section, and repeat.” With the extension pole, there’s no ladder involved (at least for the rolling part, you still need the ladder to cut in around the edges since I haven’t yet found a brush on a 6 foot pole that can accurately cut in, darn it).  Another value of the extension pole is that you get an awesome arm workout at the same time that you’re DIYing, but at least you are saving your neck and back.

Patching the holes in the ceiling was a little more difficult but doable with the right Youtube video.  I used this one although it was for bigger holes than what I needed so I modified the process (see below).

Basically the steps to patch a 2×3 inch hole (which would be the same size as the holes that electricians cut into your ceiling to install recessed lights) are:

Note: Make sure you are doing this on a sunny day with lots of natural sunlight coming in because you don’t want to turn on your lights next to the repair area.  You can’t see the ceiling well enough with a light source right next to your eyeballs.

1.  Get drywall the same thickness as your ceiling (1/2 inch is standard); a 12 inch trowel; a tub of patching compound powder; a ladder; 100, 300, and 600 grit sandpaper; a utility knife; vacuum with an extension wand; and drywall tape.

2.  If your hole is regularly shaped (as in it’s a square or rectangle), then cut the drywall to the same measurements as the hole.  You can cut it using a utility knife then just snapping the drywall along the cut you made.  You may have to shave your piece down a little to fit in the hole.

3.  If your hole is irregular (like a circle or blob shape) then cut a piece of drywall into a regular shape to cover the entire hole, then put the piece of drywall against the hole and cut out the hole to match your drywall piece.  It’s easier that way.

4.  Pre-measure your pieces of drywall tape on a counter or table since you don’t want to do that on a ladder.  You want the tape to go all around the piece on all sides with as little overlap as possible.

5.  Mix your compound really well and make sure there are no lumps.  I just scooped the powder into a bowl with some water and whisked it with a plastic fork.  Make sure your compound is the thickness of pudding.  Also, make sure you work fast because it dries in about 6-8 minutes.  Use only what you need because once it dries, you can’t add more water to re-use it.

6.  Stick the piece of drywall into the hole and tape the piece into place.  Using your trowel, smear compound over the hole and extend the compound 5-6 inches outside the tape.   Try to only cover the tape on all sides and don’t worry about the middle of the patch; you’ll get the middle on the second pass.  Also go thinner with the compound along the edges of the area so that they can more easily blend in with the rest of the ceiling (this is called feathering).  Throw away any unused compound.  Let the area dry for 30 minutes.

7.  Sand any areas along the outside edge that are too high and not flush with the rest of the ceiling using 100 grit sandpaper.  I use the vacuum to suck up as much dust as possible because it gets really dusty.

8.  Make another pass with the compound making sure to cover the middle of the area this time in addition to feathering it out over the edge of the area.  Let this dry.

9.  Sand any rough areas again using 300 grit sandpaper, then 600 grit sandpaper, then make one more pass of the joint compound if necessary.  Make sure to feather the edges of the area to blend seamlessly into the rest of the ceiling.  Repeat the sanding if you had to make one more pass.

10.  After the final sanding, dust off the area with a dry cloth then paint.

The whole process took me a couple days although you could finish it in a day since the compound dries really quickly.

Here is the finished product:

Kitchen Ceiling Left

You can’t even see the patch unless you’re a couple inches from the spot…  Not too bad if I say so myself 🙂 .