How to Fix Broken Drywall for Handrail Reinstallation

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver or screw gun

  • Flat-edge tool

  • Drywall knife (6- or 8-inch)

  • Quick-setting joint compound

  • Fiberglass mesh drywall tape

  • Sandpaper (100- or 150-grit)

You'll need only a screwdriver and a few basics to repair drywall.

Handrails along stairs and hallways require strength. If someone leans on a handrail for support and it gives way, serious injuries can result. Although handrails typically have screws that drive into the wood studs of wall for support, the drywall that covers the wall also needs to be strong. Occasionally, you may find that you need to repair the drywall around a handrail's mounting locations in order to ensure the strength and stability of the handrail.


Step 1

Remove the handrail and all of its mounting hardware. First, use a screwdriver or screw gun to remove any screws securing the mounting plate. Then use a flat-edge tool, such as a screwdriver, to pry away the mounting plate.

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Step 2

Prepare the damaged area for repair. Gouge out any damaged or crumbly drywall. Use a drywall knife or paint scraper to scrape away any lifting paint. When finished, the surface should be as flat as possible and free of loose material.

Step 3

Insert the screws you removed previously back into their holes, but allow them to stick out. This will help you quickly locate the holes later and speed up the re-installation of the handrail.

Step 4

Mix a batch of quick-setting joint compound. Many varieties exist, so choose one that will give you enough time to finish the repair before it dries. Typically, a 30-minute compound will give you enough time to repair several small areas. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing.


Step 5

Use a drywall knife to apply the joint compound to the damaged area; push it in deep. The goal is to restore the strength of the wall, so fill every crack and hole with compound.

Step 6

Cut a piece of fiberglass mesh tape and embed it over the repair area. Lay it on the joint compound, then use your drywall knife to smooth it flat. For large areas, use several pieces of fiberglass mesh tape. Allow everything to dry.


Step 7

Mix up another batch of joint compound.

Step 8

Coat the repair area with a smooth layer of joint compound to hide your repairs. Leave it as smooth as you can.

Step 9

Allow everything to dry, then test the area for stability. The repair area should feel firm and inflexible. If unhappy with the results, re-coat the area with joint compound.


Step 10

Sand your work to prepare it for paint. Use 100-grit if you need to sand a lot. Use 150-grit if you just need to gently smooth the area.

Step 11

Prime and paint the repair area before reinstalling the handrail.


When you reattach the handrail, double-check to ensure that screws enter the underlying wood stud. Drywall cannot support a handrail by itself.


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