How To Patch And Spackle Ceiling Holes

Holey moley. Our ceiling was having a little hole problem after some electrical wizork last week (warning: $herdog is in full effect in this post)…

So we did the normal thing and donned sunglasses and hats along with breathing masks. Why? Because we can’t find our safety glasses (book shoots = can’t really find anything). And ceiling dust is gross when it’s up your nizzle.

Then we got our patch on. I’m the designated Spackle Wench in our family, but John has longer arms, so he helped me by doing step one: lightly sanding the outside of the holes we were patching.

Then it was time for these guys from Home Depot. They’re basically a wire mesh patch that’s stuck to sticky paper. You stick it on the hole firmly, spackle over it, sand things down, and paint. Das it. They really make things pretty easy – even on a ceiling (the most notoriously annoying plane to work on in any room). Hardest part: gravity. More on that later (there’s video evidence of my struggle).

After the mesh patch is stuck up on the wall (darn, no pics of that, but that’s all in the video), just get some spackle on the biggest putty knife you have and squish it all over the mesh pad. Smooth it as much as you can with the spackle knife, but know that sanding everything down afterwards is when you’ll get the finished look you’re going for (so it’s always better to build things up slightly more than you need since you can always sand it down).

Then just wait the recommended drying time and get to sanding. I like to use a sanding block when it comes to sanding large planes like walls and ceilings, just because it keeps things straight (sandpaper is so floppy that it’s hard to keep things as rigid in this case, but it’s great for sanding furniture since it flexes to follow the lines of those items, like the legs of a chair).

After sanding everything (and sweeping/vacuuming/showering to get the white powder off of everythingintheentirekitchen-urgh!) it hopefully looks like this. See the three dark-ish areas where those holes used to be? They just need some paint (along with other dirty areas of the ceiling that got grunged up under the old fluorescent lights).

Here’s the hole next to the new pendant lights that we patched too. Oh and see the one over the sink- that’s still waiting for a fixture, so it stays. We’re on the hunt so we’ll keep you posted when we plug that guy up with something light and pretty.

Two coats of ceiling paint later (bless the previous owners for leaving that behind for us), any evidence of those old holes were history:

Here’s the other former-hole next to the pendants after paint. See it? Me either. Huzzah!

And here’s a video. Admittedly, things got a little wonky (falling spackle, shrieking Sherry, an offhanded mention of a slug, etc). Yes, there are outtakes right in the middle of the thing. But it kind of perfectly captures the whole process. You’re gonna get messy, and it might take a few tries to get things to stick. But in the end, you can totally get ‘er done. As in, this is about a 2 on the difficulty scale. So put on your Brave Girl Underoos and get ‘er done! Or your Brave Boy Underoos if you’ve got those.

Hope that comes in handy for ya. Next up in the kitch: shelf planning and hood painting. Hootie hoo. Then floors. Momma’s excited. Bring on the colorful plates and bowls! Ah accessorizing, the best phase of every project. And the cork – that’ll be a room-changer for sure. What are you guys up to this week? Any hole patching? Shelf building? Painting? Secret project-ing? Spackle-dodging? Tell $herdog all about it.


  1. Kelly says

    DANG that looks nice. You can’t even see the holes! Do you know if that mesh stuff works on plaster walls or just drywall? We got a grizzly crack on our (popcorn plaster…yikes!) ceiling that needs a fixing. We’ve just been staring at it. Maybe this will give me the motivation to fix that this weekend!

  2. says

    For the light over the sink, do you think you’ll try to find something orbish to stick with the round/circle theme you’ve got going on or do you think you’re going to look for something that’ll break it up? Maybe some color?

    I am always nervous about spackling holes. Not entirely sure why (although spackling mini holes are okay in my book)… it’s just one of those weird phobias.

    • says

      Some color would be fun! Or something super glassy or cage-y. Something to sort of complement the orbs over the counter. Or we could always get another orb like the peninsula ones if we think it’s getting too busy with something else…


  3. says

    The people who owned our house before us left all kinds of bad patch jobs on the walls. :( Our walls have texture, so I imagine that they’re not very easy to repair. The patches are all raised from the wall, and the texture doesn’t match the rest of the wall. Maybe someday I will have the courage to redo them!

    • says

      Ugh…you just described half of the walls in my house. The living room makes me cringe every night when I’m in there but I just don’t want to fix it since I know it will be a TON of work.

    • says

      It’s a necessity these days since they’re shooting our hands in the book and they always look soooo grungy with junk in them from projects! So dark nail polish hides that! Haha.


  4. Amy says

    I had Wonder Woman Underoos.

    That is all.

    I lied. In second grade, I was Batgirl for Halloween … with my Wonder Woman Underoos on underneath. :)

  5. Lisa says

    Yep….spackled some holes in the wall in my daughter’s room last week so that I could paint. It looks so different in there! I plan to submit pictures when I am all done for your redesign or maybe just to Facebook. Where can I find your email address when I am ready to send those? I can’t seem to find it on here anywhere…am I just lost? :)

  6. says

    Wait! What about the floors? And again, thanks for letting us know how truly easy home improvement can be. I would have tried to cut out little drywall circles, glued them up there (seriously), spackled around it. But no, all I need is sticky mesh. You guys rock.

  7. says

    I need you guys to come repair some holes in my ceiling from electrical wizzork as well…We replaced our florescent lights with track lighting (which needed some patching up) and once my husband installed the light and patched the extra space, he realized the electrical work was wrong and needed to take undo everything he just did…and that was 2 months ago!

  8. Diane says

    Your ceiling looks great! I’ve been working on a project to remove popcorn from the ceiling in our front room. It was hugely messy and lots of work but after lots of sanding and a coat of primer and ceiling paint, it looks great. If anyone has tips to make that job easier – i.e., less messy – I would love to hear them as there are many more rooms to do!

    • says

      My husband removed popcorn ceilings from the apartment buildings. He lightly sprays the ceiling with water (from a weed sprayer) and the scrapes. It seems like it’s just a little at a time, but it’s still messy. Tarp the floors and it might make it quicker to clean up…

    • says

      I’m not sure if it’s applicable to your popcorn, but the popcorn on my grandmother’s ceilings (which she hates) is supposed to be water soluble…. as in if you get it wet enough it comes right off. At least that’s what she was told by the home improvement guy that came out to look at her place.

      Maybe worth a try?

    • says

      I have removed popcorn ceiling in every room of my house…the only room left is a tiny bathroom which I am planning to do before June. We have carpet, so I lay down a huge sheet of plastic, use a pesticide sprayer that is filled with water (never used for pesticide) spray the ceiling, let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then start scraping….going slowly though to minimize the scrapes to the sheetrock. I also try to get as much off in that phase as possible because again it reduces the sanding. It usually takes me two hours to do a whole room, but then I scoop up the whole thing of plastic and throw it out. Depending on how great I am feeling about prep, I might lay down plastic again for the sanding stage, but usually it’s easy to vacuum one room. I also do what John and Sherry did when they were working in the kitchen (i.e. plastic the doorways), because that dust somehow finds its way into every room of the house if you don’t. I also hang up crown molding after every job, because it’s way easier to do that than to try to get your ceiling and walls perfectly painted. Yes, I’m lazy. :-)The results though are AWESOME. I will likely never buy a house again with popcorn ceiling. Good luck! It is so worth it in the end….

    • says

      We’re doing the same at our house (scraping, plastering, sanding, painting). Some people have suggested either tearing down the ceiling and replacing the drywall or just drywalling over the existing popcorn ceileing. We didn’t go for the first cause we’ve never drywalled and our ceilings are too low to do the second, but one of those might work for you?

    • Melanie says

      Everyone please be careful if you decide to work on your popcorn ceilings and look into some testing. It’s not uncommon for popcorn ceilings (particular in homes built pre-1980) to contain asbestos. Just do a little research and some testing before you start scraping. Don’t want anyone breathing in that stuff! :)

    • says

      My parents were doing this to the popcorn ceiling in their house a few years ago. It was awful, so I feel your pain! Their much improved way of doing it was hiring a contractor with a power sander. And changing the A/C filters pretty much everyday to avoid breathing it all in!

      Probably not the most helpful suggestion, but I know my parents were happy to spend the money after watching that guy on a ladder with holding a sander above his head for a week straight!

    • Kathy says

      Only thing that helped us – we made a fairly large cardboard “funnel” and taped in onto the vac hose and after wetting one portion with sprayer, one scraped while the other held the vac, and we switched back and forth.

    • says

      Hahaha it’s just a messy process, though I love the idea of slightly misting it first. We have them in our house. Thankfully we’re just ripping the entire ceiling down! No scraping necessary.

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