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Walls And Stairs

Making The Patch Match

The match you attempt may not be perfect the first time around. Just remember that you can always sand your mistakes away and try again. Cosmetic fixes are not as difficult to master for walls as they are for faces, but since you probably look at your walls more often that you do your face, don't be discouraged if you struggle a bit getting the look just right.

Sand Finish Walls
If your walls have what is called a "sand finish", you can get uniformly fine-grain sand at your local home repair or paint store to mix with finishing plaster to match your walls once repairs are made. The only hard part is getting the plaster-to-sand ratio correct.

Start by putting enough finishing plaster to cover the repair into a container and adding the sand a bit at a time until you think you have a good textural match. Apply to a small section of the repair using a plastering float, a $10 item that will make the difference between a matching patch and an obvious one. Apply enough that the patched area sits slightly above the surrounding wall and allow it to stiffen but not harden completely. Then use a clean spray bottle to lightly mist the plaster and run the float over the area in a circular motion. If the patch remains too hard, lightly spray it again. If you over-watered it and it's mushy, allow it to stiffen again before floating.

Textured Walls
If you have textured walls, you can help imitate the texture by "stabbing" at the damp finishing plaster with the tip of a dry house-paint brush (the kind with a thick, straight edge) or a whiskbroom. To smooth out spikes, wait until the plaster is almost dry, dip your plastering float in water and very lightly drag it across the tips to soften them.

If your wall texture is heavy, trying to imitate it perfectly may be a real pain to anyone who hasn't got a very keen sculpting ability. But never fear, spray-on plaster is available in home improvements stores in various texture densities. This convenient process will replace the finishing plaster step and is easy to apply–just spray a thin, even coat over the last layer of patching plaster, let dry, then primer and paint. It may cost a bit more than creating the pattern yourself with a brush or a putty knife, but for most of us it's a lot less headache and a lot better result.

Hammer Have some great DIY tips on patching holes? Share them with other do-it-yourselfers in our Doors and Windows forum!