Drywall Patch

Why Does Your Drywall Patch Look Bad? 5 Common Causes

In Construction by Giovanni ValleLeave a Comment

Drywall is a lightweight, easy-to-install material that provides a smooth surface for interior walls and ceilings. However, one potential disadvantage of using drywall to patch certain areas is that it can look unappealing when not installed correctly.

Your drywall patch can look bad because of texture differences between patched and unpatched areas, air bubbles in tape, over-sanding, visible seams, or nail pops showing through the paint. Solutions include using the right joint compound, sanding properly, and priming the wall before painting.

In this article, I’ll discuss why your drywall patch looks terrible and how you can make it look better so you can have a beautiful home again.

1. There’s a Texture Difference Between Patched and Unpatched Areas

A drywall patch may not look right when there is a noticeable difference in textures between patched and unpatched areas. This can cause an uneven surface, making the patched areas appear smoother and reflect light differently than unpatched areas. Even the slightest difference in texture will stand out and create an obvious patch job.

If left unprimed, drywall absorbs paint differently, causing the drywall patches to stand out through the paint. This not only causes the drywall to look bad but also causes the paint to peel.

How To Fix

Nothing is more frustrating than seeing uneven drywall patches still show through your final coat of paint. However, you can easily fix this problem by following these steps:

  1. Use topping compound to cover up the drywall patches. Mix a small amount of the specialized topping compound with a brush. Use a taping knife to spread it evenly over the surface visible through the paint. It’s better to apply the joint compound beyond the boundaries of the original patch by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) so that it blends with the surface around it.
  2. Once the uneven surfaces are covered, you can sand the patched area using 220-grit sandpaper. Sanding will help flatten the surface and remove any ridges. To further smoothen the area, you can also use 100-grit sandpaper. Note that a patch raised above the wall will catch the light differently, so make sure to sand properly.
  3. When sanding your first coat, start with medium-grit sandpaper. As you move forward with the second and third coats, choose fine-grit sanding paper for sanding. Run your hand through the patch area to ensure the texture is smooth.
  4. Prime your wall to ensure the patch areas will have the same texture as the rest of the wall. To prime your patch area, use a 3/8 in (0.95 cm) or 1/2 in (1.27 cm) nap roller to apply primer to the entire wall. The nap is long enough to give your entire wall an even texture. Wait 24 hours to apply the next coat of primer.
  5. Repeat the steps above to get a smooth drywall if you can still see patched areas through the primer. These visible areas will remain noticeable through the paint job, so you can prime them once more to achieve ideal results. This time make sure to sand more, use a roller with a long nap, and apply more coats of primer.

Here’s a video showing you how to choose the best grit for sanding your drywall:

2. The Drywall Tape Might Have Air Bubbles

You put drywall tape over the gaps between two pieces of drywall to create a stronger seal to put your patching material over. If you’re careless when applying the tape, it can trap air bubbles under it, which won’t look good.

Improper installation is usually the cause of trapped air bubbles under the tape. Not having enough joint compound under the tape or letting it bunch up when pressing it to the wall can cause issues. You’ll need to make sure you take the time to apply the tape and joint compound correctly.

Trapped air bubbles become much more exaggerated when you apply the patch, leading to a bumpy texture on your wall. Since you want your finished wall to look smooth, it’s important to take your time applying the tape. However, you can still fix the tape if there are problems.

How To Fix

It’s a bit easier to fix the bubbles before painting the wall. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Find the tape sections with bubbles. First, remove the hardened drywall mud over the tape with air bubbles. You can use scrapers, putty, or utility knives to remove the hardened drywall. Scratch away the drywall until you’ve uncovered the tape and some space above and below the bubbles.
  2. Cut out the tape with bubbles. Use your utility knife to cut out the bubbled sections of the drywall tape. It’s best not to cut directly into the bubbles but instead next to them so you can peel the entire section off the wall. You can get rid of the tape.
  3. Apply a fresh layer of joint compound. Using your putty knife, apply a layer of joint compound over the seam. Wait for it to dry before moving on.
  4. Apply new drywall tape. You’ll want to ensure you don’t trap any air under the tape this time. You can use a putty knife, or another tool, to flatten the tape.
  5. Add joint compound over the new tape. Using your putty knife again, apply another layer of joint compound on the new drywall tape. You want it to be as smooth as possible. Give it at least a full day to set, then you can lightly sand the compound to make it even smoother.

Air bubbles are much easier to fix before painting over the drywall, although you can still do it after. Before you follow the above steps, you’ll first need to remove the paint over the trapped air bubbles using fine-grit sandpaper. After the joint compound dries, you can repaint the wall as usual.

Air bubbles forming can be extremely frustrating when using drywall tape. It’s best to try removing them before you get too far into the project. However, you can always use these steps to fix the bubbles as many times as you need to.

3. Screw Pops Are Showing Through Drywall Paint

Nail pops are unsightly circular bits poking out from the wall. They are caused by the expansion and contraction of the lumber behind the drywall. When moisture levels in the air change, these nails are more likely to poke through.

However, there are other causes for visible screw pops, such as the nails not being hammered in tight enough or using the wrong fasteners at the time of installation. Structural changes in the building’s walls, ceilings, or floor can also cause nail pops.

How To Fix
  1. Drive the visible screw pop back into the wall using a hammer, but be careful not to damage the nearby drywall. Place drywall screws 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) above and below the nail to fasten the drywall panel firmly. This will ensure the nail doesn’t pop out again.
  2. Use a trowel to spread a thin layer of joint compound over the holes. You can use a damp cloth to clean the wall and remove the excess joint compound from your hands. After the mixture dries and sets, apply a second coat of compound over the entire surface.
  3. Sand down the second coat with a fine-grit sanding block to remove any irregularities and ridges. You can use 150-grit sandpaper for a finer finish. However, be careful not to apply too much pressure on the wall. Use a damp cloth and water to clean off any sanding dust.
  4. Prime and paint the wall. You can use a latex or oil-based primer to cover the entire surface. A water-based primer is also a great option. No matter which primer you use, make sure it is adequately sealed to prevent it from peeling off the paint.

Here’s a video explaining how you can fix screw pops in drywall:

4. The Drywall Patch May Be Oversanded

Drywall must be sanded lightly to remove any imperfections and smoothen the surface. However, in some projects, the drywall is sanded too much that it leaves holes in the wall, and its texture is no longer even.

Oversanded drywall not only looks unsightly, but it can also cause the wall to be more susceptible to water damage and mold. Sanding drywall correctly requires a few tools and some practice to do it well.

How To Fix
  1. Use a joint knife to fill dents and holes with the joint compound. Choose a wider blade to fill in those dents; the wider the blade, the easier it is to spread joint compound consistently. After filling dents and holes, use a putty knife to smooth out the surface.
  2. Use a small finishing sander with 220-grit paper to sand down the wall. Be careful not to sand too much so that you remove the wall’s texture and make it look uneven again. You can also use a small drum sander with 80-grit paper for a smooth finish.
  3. Feel the patched wall by running your hand across it and ensuring it is smooth. A drywall patch without a primer is harder to paint, and it can also be harder to match with your existing wall. Therefore, if you want a perfect match, use a primer. You should use a longer nap roller for applying primer to give your drywall an even texture. Wait for the primer to dry before applying another coat, and your drywall is ready to be painted.

5. There Are Visible Seams in the Drywall

When your walls are made of thin pieces of drywall, you may see a faint line where two pieces of drywall meet. This faint line means you’ve got an unsightly seam. Visible seams in a drywall patch can be frustrating, especially if you’ve put in a lot of work to get the patch to blend with your walls.

The major reason for visible drywall seams is a change in structural support. It can also be due to the drywall being lapped or overhanging or as a result of incorrect installation. Not applying the drywall tape correctly can also cause there to be visible seams.

How To Fix

In most cases, it’s possible to minimize the appearance of visible seams or make them disappear completely. Follow these steps:

  1. Apply as many layers of drywall compound as necessary to level up uneven seams. Use a 4-inch (10-centimeter) drywall knife to apply the first coat, then a 6-inch (15 cm) knife for the second coat. You should also use a sharp blade to smooth out any rough edges.
  2. Use drywall tape to mask the seams and cover any areas you don’t want to be seen. Spread another coat of joint compound on top of the tape after scraping it flat. Once the tape and compound are dry, spread two or more topcoats using wider knives to achieve a flat seam.
  3. Use medium-grit sanding paper to remove the rough edges and create a perfectly even surface. A 150-grit paper is usually enough for most projects, but if you’re using a rotary sander, you may need a 220-grit or finer paper.
  4. Prime and paint the drywall. Use a primer first to make the wall smoother and easier to paint. Doing so will not only help the paint adhere better but will also help prevent the wall from absorbing too much moisture.


Drywall patches can look bad because of visible seams, screw pops, and oversanding. Fortunately, you can easily fix these issues with the right tools, materials, and techniques.

To fix visible seams in your drywall patch, use enough joint compound to cover the edges of the drywall. Screws should be hammered below the surface before applying the joint compound over them. The wrong sanding technique can create an uneven finish, so make sure to use fine-grit sandpaper when smoothing down patched areas. Lastly, prime before you paint for a smooth, professional-looking finish.


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