How to Fill Holes in Drywall.

Terrified of putting nail holes in your drywall or sheetrock?  Calm down. You too can have a gallery wall if you want it because fixing holes in drywall is easy but there is a right way to do it. And toothpaste ain’t it.

People seem to be terrified of the strangest things. Green smarties, Sasquatch, ageing naturally and gracefully. I’m all for ageing in the most unnatural way possible by the way and am currently experimenting with red light therapy for an upcoming post.

The other thing people are unreasonably terrified of is putting nail holes in their walls. Your face I can understand, I mean a hole in your face is definitely going to be harder to fix than a hole in a wall.

With a hole in your wall you can stick a “Dogs Playing Pool” poster over it or the more refined “Naked Fireman Holding Rescued Kitten”.

I mean, it’ll look ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as if you stuck one of those posters over a hole in your face.

I’ve deduced, that people aren’t terribly afraid of hammering the nail in, it’s what to do when you take it out. Because once you take that nail out you are left with … THE DREADED NAIL HOLE.

So what to do? Well, much like if your face has a big indentation in it, you fill it up with filler. 

You can buy a tub of drywall compound at the hardware store for between $5 and $10. Premixed, ready to go.

You might even have some in your basement that you bought when you first moved into your house thinking you were going to be very handy home improvement whiz but instead – hung up fireman posters.

If that’s the case your compound is probably dried out BUT you can fix dried up drywall compound. Just add water to it and mix it.

You’ll also need a putty knife. That’s what I’m using here. It’s a flexible thin metal blade.


If you’re buying drywall compound and a putty knife make sure the putty knife you buy is small enough to fit inside the tub of drywall compound.

If you don’t have one and you’re only filling small nail holes you can use anything stiff but also flexible. Like your retired Blockbuster video rental card! Or any other plastic credit card type thing.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do all this stuff you see in the photo above, this is me patching an entire wall with joint compound, tape, etc.

I have for you today a very, very short video on how to PROPERLY fill a small hole. That means there will be no use of drywall tape, toothpaste, cat hair, ski goggles, shaving cream or nail polish in these instructions.

How to Fix a Hole in Drywall.

How to Fix a Hole in Drywall.

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Fix those tiny nail holes in your drywall with just a bit of compound and a hammer. Because to fix the little nail hole you first need to make it bigger!


  • Joint compound (also called Drywall compound or Sheetrock compound)


  • Putty Knife
  • Hammer (ball peen)


    1. Remove any nails, screws or anchors that are in the wall.
    2. Using the rounded end of a ball pean hammer, hammer in the small nail hole to create an indent.
    3. Fill the indent with joint compound using a flexible putty knife. Just put a blob of compound over the hole and then scrape the area flat by running the putty knife over it several times until smooth.
    4. Let the compound dry (you'll know it's completely dry when it's all lightened up to the same colour) and then gently sand it to smooth it out.
    5. Prime the repair with paint primer.
    6. Paint.


The reason you hammer in the small nail hold is because nail holes have a tiny lip around them that you might not even be able to see. This lip needs to be hammered in to get rid of that small lip that sticks out from the wall.

Oh wait! You have a bigger hole?  That’s O.K. Those are easy to fix too. Have a look at my post on how to patch drywall. 

So there you have it.  Filling nail holes is not very hard, definitely nothing to be afraid of and the very first thing you should do before you paint your walls with a new coat of paint.

You may have noticed a small indent in the wall when I painted it. That was some other indent that didn’t choose to reveal itself until I painted over it. It wasn’t the nail hole. Just some angry, angry, vindictive wall scar impersonating as a nail hole. Mainly just for attention I think.

Now that you’re not afraid of filling nail holes you might want to graduate to learning how to make a gallery wall.

 Kitten and fireman posters are strongly discouraged.

How to Fill Holes in Drywall.


  1. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you for this… I have drywall holes to repair. I’m excited for the upcoming red light therapy post. I bought a red light and not sure what to do. How far away/how long for face (wrinkles) and pain in tendons, etc.

  2. Laura McEachern Bart says:

    “Using the rounded end of a ball pean hammer, hammer in the small nail hole to create an indent.” —-BEST TIP EVER! I have filled exactly 17,659 nail holes in walls and NEVER knew about this step/trick/tip/advice. Muy Gracias! Oh, regarding toothpaste as a hole filler? That only works when you are between the ages of 17 and 24 and it’s a hole in the popcorn ceiling of your rented apartment where you hung your macrame plant hanger for your piggyback plant. Peace.

  3. Kelly Blanton says:

    There is also a newer product by DAP called DAP Eclipse. It’s a self-adhesive patch and requires no filler or sanding. You just apply patch over the hole and can paint over the patch. It’s great.

  4. B. says:

    Also, LOVED the sound effects! Bah ha ha ha aha ha ha ha!

  5. billy sharpstick says:

    Will this work on bullet holes? (Asking for a friend.)

  6. Bob says:

    I put a molly in the wall to hand a picture and missed the proper hole by 1/2 . So I filled in hole and redrilled overlapping the existing hole. Refilled hole and reset but its not holding.
    Can you offer any advise.

  7. Barbie says:

    One time I removed a nail from the wall (I must have hit a 2×4 when I nailed it in the wall) and I tugged so hard with the prongs of my hammer to get it out that when it did the prong of the hammer came back full force and hit me square between the eyes on the bridge of my nose! I stumbled out to the front lawn to get some help and there was blood everywhere! My neighbor came running and thought I had cut my hand off with the saw in my garage! Blood was everywhere! Kinda funny now. My neighbor about fainted!

    • Karen says:

      OMG! I think bleeding from between your eyes would be pretty terrifying for a anyone who saw it, lol. YIKES! Scar? ~ karen

  8. Marion says:

    Love the sound effects! haha.

  9. Cass says:

    THANK YOU so very much for this post. Clever and to the point. I have been wanting to write a post about this exact subject for months now. The advice to use toothpaste drives me crazy!
    You have done such a far better job than I ever would have been able to do. May I have permission to re publish this on my blog along with much glowing praise for your skills and good looks?

  10. Shel says:

    Timely post, Karen….since I was just yesterday pulling stuff off the walls and washing them to prepare for a much needed (think 10 years needed) paint job on my bedroom walls. I ain’t ‘fraid of no nail holes…however I was shocked and mortified at the mess left behind on the wall that once held a wall mounted TV. Seems the hubs just pushed the armoire in front of it when he pulled the TV off and relocated it to another wall. LARGE holes and some gashes that look as though the wall was fighting back and he had to ATTACK! It’s a little intimidating since I’ve not had much success filling other large defects. Guess it will be a good place for some wall art. Or an armoire.

  11. Mindy says:

    I like to think I’m a smart girl. Why in the hell have I never done the hammer trick!? Idiot. I even have plaster walls, so I know the outward bump. Dumb. From here on out, I vow to whack my holes.

    • B. says:

      Yup. Me too. So clever – wishing I’d known this trick years ago! Grateful, again, for Karen. However, directions should, IMHO, call for a celebratory glass of gin with fresh rosemary after having fixed the hole in the plaster wall…just sayin’. 🙄😊😉

  12. dana says:

    So no cream cheese or toothpaste as hole filler?

  13. Sheryl says:

    How about avoiding holes almost completely? It is amazing how much weight a tiny straight pin will hold. One can hang all but the very biggest and heaviest items with just plain old sewing straight pins. When you pull them the hole is so tiny you don’t notice it and it fills completely when you paint.

  14. jeannie B says:

    I agree on the need for primer over the new repair. I can still see where all my repairs are, if I look hard, because I didn’t prime.

  15. Rondina Muncy says:

    The nice thing about dry wall compound is that you can make it from plaster paris that is sold in small cartons. The pre-made stuff dries out or molds. I use a spackling knife and mix it on a paper plate.

    Your technique of sanding won’t work on textured walls, you have to work it with your fingers to duplicate the finish or lightly sponge off the surrounding mud around the repaired hole.

    BTW, for those we haven’t put mud on entire walls—that noise is what it sounds like.

  16. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I have tried but I can’t get my tools to make those sounds..what am I doing wrong???

    • Nancy Blue Moon says:

      I forgot..the sandpaper works fine..makes the same sound as yours..maybe it was imported from Canada…

  17. Lynn says:

    Short & sweet…love it! Only thing I would add is that you might want to prime the spot prior to painting as it can leave a high/low shadow depending on the paint & finish you are using:)

    • Karen says:

      You’re absolutely right! I completely skipped over the priming part! It definitely needs to be done. I use Fresh Start for that sort of thing. ~ karen!

  18. christine hilton says:

    Screw the nail holes,I want to know about the upcoming post!!! Are you doing botox? This is getting ridiculous,I am now waiting for the kitchen reveal,the black(SW Iron Ore) wall,preferably behind the dowager portrait and MAYBE some form of cosmetic surgery? OMG…Are you getting big boobs?

  19. Robin says:

    Strangely enough, I have never been afraid to drive a nail, screw or other form to hold up art, shelves or anything else that I desire to put on a wall. I come from a long line of do-it-yerslfer’s and I have in the house with me a man who loves to drywall…I think it’s because he’s a retired Journeyman Auto body guy and he misses filling cracks and holes in things ( don’t think like that now!) Those kinda holes are an easy fix, esp. if you use those small tubs of ready to go filler.
    As for the human body filler, well not yet have I decided that I need to put myself and my pocket book through that, it may come, but so far I am not that vain!

  20. Lisa says:

    If you only have a hammer with the claw on the other side – not the little ball – you can use the handle of a screwdriver to tap the nail hole flush with the wall.

  21. says:

    That felt (and sounded) so goooooood. mmmmmm

  22. zippy says:

    Nice video Karen! I’ve actually stopped doing the sanding step when filling small cracks and holes – I find it is neater and easier to just wipe off the extra filler with a damp cloth. Maybe it’s because I’m not very good at sanding, but I always ended up with a visible patch under the new paint – when I wipe it off I can get it so the filler is just in the hole.

  23. Laura Bee says:

    And there’s still people out there who think paint will fill a hole.
    Could you speed up drying with a flapping chicken?

  24. Ruth says:

    So I sat here with my headphones on, wondering why I was hearing nothing, when I realised said headphones weren’t plugged in. I backed up the video, plugged in the headphone jack…. to hear exactly TWO tiny sounds. LOL!

    Some time back, you got me with a loud surprise sound… and now you’ve got me again, because I was fully expecting to be blasted. Hehehe….

  25. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Who knew a video about nail holes could be so fun? Leave it to you Karen. (I’m glad I watched even though I already knew how to do it. )

  26. Mary Werner says:

    3rd paragraph – just like a man! sorry, couldn’t help myself. it was just begging for the comment

  27. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    That had to be the shortest video ever! Sounds effects were awesome…more please!

  28. Vicky says:

    Love the sound effects! I am learning how to mud and tape as we make over our kitchen. Lots of fun! If only nail holes were all we had to fix! The good thing is your video can just be applied to the big fixes also.

  29. Jane says:

    I love that hammer. It looks like my grandfather’s hammer. Not like the boring modern metal ones.

  30. Stephanie says:

    I love you so much. Well like in a blogger way. Not like a strange home repair voyeuristic way. Wait. Maybe just like that. Please keep doing the things!!!

  31. Feral Turtle says:

    Those are the damn hammers that I can always find when I need to pull a nail….like yesterday. When I need to fill a hole, I have plenty of claw hammers kicking around. Go figure.

  32. Alice says:

    Any hints for those of us with plaster walls? I don’t think making an intention would be a good thing, but I could be wrong. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice – You fill the holes the same way, just just eliminate the step where you hammer it. Plaster won’t push out at the nail hole the way drywall/sheet rock does, so that step isn’t necessary. ~ karen!

  33. Su says:

    I knew this! I’m a bit smarter than I thought I was… :)

  34. Tigersmom says:

    And the Oscar for” best use of sound effects in a video lasting less than one minute” goes to……

    I fear no Smartie.

    I used to fear putting holes in the walls, but once I learned how to fix them that bad boy was conquered. Another advantage to having white walls, sometimes you can get away without the painting step.

  35. Karen says:

    Wow, who knew…?

  36. Maureen Locke says:

    So that’s what the round end of a hammer is for.. go figure. Now I need one of those hammers cause I have a crap load of nail holes to fill before I paint this summer. I always wind up slicing off those humps but they still show. Love the video and the sound effects but I was looking forward to hearing your wit and humour this morning.. not just read it. :)

    • Bob Fay says:

      Having been a landlord for many years I have filled hundreds and hundreds of holes, I think I have a better way. Since most walls are textured these days, I seldom use a putty knife since that does away with the texture. For most holes I simply use my finger and some lightweight Spackle. Push a small amount into the hole and wipe it flat – now you have the same texture of the wall. For very small holes such as thumbtack holes, most can be filled with paint. Roll or brush the paint over the hole and if necessary go over it one more time.
      All this is accomplished very quickly and looks great.

  37. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Green anything other than veggies is terrifying. Candy, Jello, beer, cake, ice cream, you name it. Equally terrifying.

    • Jennie Lee says:

      Mint chocolate chip ice cream? Jade?

      • Stephanie Hobson says:

        Jade yes. Mint chocolate ice cream no. lol

        My wedding ring is jade. 43 years ago the jeweler advised against it, saying it would break. Still wearing it!

    • Jennie Lee says:

      Thanks for the video, Karen! My Dad left me a hammer like that, and I never knew what the ball-thing was for! (Thanks, Dad.)

      • Karen says:

        You’re welcome Jennie Lee! ~ karen

      • Sydney Barnard says:

        Just an FYI, that would be a ball-peen hammer, typically used in metal working (think sword smithing) but great for finishing off a nailing or riveting job if you don’t want to whack a flat surface with the full face of a hammer damaging the surrounding area.

        • Karen says:

          Yes. I know, lol. That’s why I used the ball peen hammer on to whack my flat surface. :) ~ karen!

  38. Janni says:

    Good advice and love the sound effects:)

  39. TucsonPatty says:

    And such a nice video with wonderful sound effects it is, indeed!! Short and to the point! I agree with the double filling – unlike double billing which I wrote first, and don’t forget to let it dry before sanding! Love your videos, Karen.

  40. Terri says:

    Private!!! Oh no. :(

  41. Valerie says:

    Ditto on “private” for the video.

    One thing about nail holes I have noticed is that it works well to fill them twice with a 12 hour period between. The first filling tends to shrink a bit and if the hole is large – sometimes a tiny crack may appear but the first filling does create the base for the second and final filling, light sanding etc. prior to painting.

  42. brenda says:

    Top Secret???? So private I have to contact the FBI???? Inquiring minds indeed…..

  43. Amber says:

    hmmm, all I’m getting is that the video is private. Does this mean it’s actually documentation of that time with that guy and the saran wrap and the chicken? Is it really about nail holes Karen? Inquiring minds…

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