Dry Wall Repair Question

frank1203July 28, 2008


My son accidentally broke one of the bracket/arms of the toilet paper holder that was screwed into the dry wall of my bathroom. The other arm is fine. I have begun to repair the four inch hole that was created by first pushing some insullation into the hole. Then I applied a piece of metal tape with holes in it, then I cut a piece of wood from a small shim and also placed that into the hole for strength. I applied the first coat of joint compound heavily yesterday and now I will begin the sanding process (I'd rather over apply, as I'm just not that good a plasterer). The question I now have is when I'm all said and done and am happy that I have satisfactorily repaired and smoothed out the wall, I then need to "reapply" the left arm toilet paper bracket which holds the arm. The bracket screws into the wall and then a round piece fits over it. This is where I need some guidance. Will screws work in the joint compounded area or could it crack? What do you recommend as far as re attaching the bracket in the same spot? Thank you in advance for your help.

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Sounds like you made it more difficult than it needed to be while still not making it strong enough.

Before doing the sanding, see how solid your repair is. If it's loose, I suggest knocking it all into the wall and then starting over.

If it is strong enough, you can try screwing some EZ anchors into the wall and going from there. Or you can use molly bolts.

If you need to redo the repair, insert a longer piece of wood into the wall as backing. (You first drill a long screw into the board so you have something to hold onto.) While holding it in place, use drywall screws though the wall and into the board (both ends). Next you can fill the remaining hole with a piece of drywall and then top off with compound, etc.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 6:07PM
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As homebound stated, you want wood behind the hole with screws through the existing wall into the wood. Fasten a patch to the wood, finish, and then attach your TP holder arm to the drywall with wood underneath. Just make sure your wood is where the TP arm will attach. Go to this small hole repair page for step by step directions.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 6:56PM
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Thank you both for your responses. To answer "homebounds" question - The repair that I made to the broken wall appears to be very solid. I sanded off the thick joint compound yesterday and smoothed the wall pretty good. I applied another thin coat just to be sure everything looks evened out. I will probably have to do some light sanding (or damp sponging) today and then we will be ready to prime and paint. Since I did force a wood shim onto top of some metal tape into the wall before joint compound, I think I will go ahead and try to attach the bracket to that as opposed to knocking everything out and starting over. It does appear pretty solid but I'm no expert.

I am more concerned about re-attaching the bracket. You mentioned "EZ Anchors". I am not exactly sure what that is. What I took out of the broken piece was a plastic spiral looking piece that was threaded onto a screw. Is that an EZ Anchor? I suspect it is not. I have seen some anchors that are basically a cylinder where you drill a hole in the wall and tap in the cylinder and then the screw opens up the cylinder for strength. Maybe thats what you meant. In light of the fact that I am dealing with a good amount of joint compound that is in the hole, I am still concerned about cracking (even though we do have the wood shim behind the compound). So, what is the best way to reattach? The spiral thing? The cylinder anchor? or the molly bolt?. I probably need to drill first to keep the plater from cracking.

Part 2 - since the right side of the TP bracket is still intact, how do I ensure that I am reattaching the left side proportionately? I have to consider two things - (1) the right amount of space from left to right so the TP roller will fit in and two the brackets being level. I'm guessing I need to remove the right piece and level things out from there. Any suggestions on that?

I know I've asked alot on this post and I appreciate your feedback. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 6:10AM
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Sounds like the plastic threaded thing was an EZ anchor.

But with the wood shim, etc., you're better off using molly bolts. Talk off the other one so you can line this one up to the correct spot. Make some marks. Pre-drill for the molly's and go from there.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 7:32AM
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Thanks. If I'm not mistaken, a molly bolt looks kind of like a screw surrounded by metal strips that come to a point (almost reminds you a of a bullet). So, you are suggesting drilling the hole into the plaster/wood shim to push the molly into and then when the screw tightens, the out casing expands. Sound correct? An anchor works kind of the same way except the anchor looks more like a plaster cyclinder. Actually, the thing that came out of my wall was neither - it was more of a spiral looking thing (like a cork screw) that you drill in. Who knows. But I will take your advice and use the molly's. I think lining up the brackets will be tricky.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Actually, I meant to say toggle bolts. Sorry about the mix-up. (You may need some small washers to go along with them.)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 7:44PM
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...since you don't know how thick your repair is, molly's will be tricky. So go with long toggle bolts. Again, sorry about the mix-up.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 7:47PM
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Ok - Toggle Bolts.. Now Toggle Bolts are the long screw with a spring in the back that goes in closed and then the wings open once it gets to the back of the wall, which makes it grab the wall, right? The only issue is that to get the spring part of the toggle into the wall, I'm going to have to make a wider diameter hole. As you long as yyou think the plaster job will hold up and not crack, I will do that. In my particular repair, I think the back of the wall will be the wood shim. Sound right?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:27PM
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Yes, you described toggle bolts accurately.

I think it will have a good chance of holding up, all things considered. Buy them in the smaller size (but long). And have some washers handy just in case the head is too small for your wall bracket. (The package will say what size hole to drill for them.)

Think it through before you install them (i.e. fit them into the toilet bracket before inserting into the wall).

And if it does fail, it won't be because of the bolts. Then just redo the repair as discussed earlier. If you do that, you will be able to use drywall screws in to the wood (can't do that with the shim, since it will probably crack).

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 10:24PM
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I'm starting to have second thoughts about using the toggle bolt. To use it, I obviously have to drill through the repaired wall that has a combination of joint compound on top of a shim on top some metal tape and then insulation shoved in. To make the toggle work, the wings open and have to grab onto something. Based on my crazy repair - what is the thing that the wings are grabbing onto? I'm afraid if I tighten the screw too much, it might pull the shim, etc. out Maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:20PM
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Presumably they'd be grabbing onto the backside of the solid mass that's in front of the insulation. If you have second thoughts, I don't know what would be better other than doing the repair over with wood backing.

Let's say you did this repair with a regular anchors or EZ anchor, how solid is your joint compound repair? If used moderately, maybe that will hold, but I'd just opt for a more robust repair without thinking about it (toggle bolts or redo with wood backing).

On the contrary, since you do have two sides to the tp holder, just about anything will hold for a while. Make your decision and go with it. Nothing to lose.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:52PM
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Hi,I worked in public housing and had that problem very often. My repair after I patched the hole was to take a piece of aluminium flat stock about 1/8x2x6 drill and mount the brackets on the stock ( I used small bolt and nut) drill two holes in the center of the stock and screw the completed unit to a stud. Held up well and looked good.
Good Luck Woodbutcher

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 8:05PM
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Good idea Woodbutcher, except that the stud is several inches away from the where the patch repair is located, so then wouldn't I have the piece of aluminum showing on the wall to be able to reach the stud? Only way to fix that is to cut the dry wall where the aluminum stock would be showing and joint compound over that. Sounds like it may be more trouble that its worth. In my situation, I have done a pretty stirty repair, so I am going to first attempt using the toggle bolts as Homebound suggested. Since the right side of the TP bracket is still intact, I am hoping that the stress will be distributed more evenly and won't create undue stress on the left bracket alone and that it will remain stirty as it did for the past 13 years.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 9:37PM
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Hi - I wanted to give you the latest update. I decided to go with the toggle bolt idea and mounted the bracket last night. The job started off badly but seemed to end fine (at least I think).

First of all, a much larger hole needs to be drilled to get the spring loaded wings into the hole. I did so, but no without a lot of problem. My joint compound repair started to depress or push in a little bit and you could see that the edges around the repair were visible. Since the holes were already drilled, I figured I didn't have much to lose.

So, I tightened up the toggles and there appears to be a very strong hold of the bracket. Don't know if it will stay that way once I attach the TP arms to the bracket, but I can tell you that the bracket seems stirty. So, after I was finished that I applied another coat of joint compound to fill in the depressions that were made while I was drilling. I will then reprime that small area and paint.

I'm going to go with this and see what happens since I have nothing to lose (excpet maybe wasting a little time), but I was surprised that nothing pulled out as I tightened the toggle and the attachment appears secure. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 5:59AM
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Next time put wood battens across the hole and apply a piece of drywall.
If you cannot move the fixture, I would cut the opening to the nearest stud on each side, put a piece of 2x lumber toe nailed between the studs, then patch with a section or drywall.
The 2x wood will provide a solid base for the fixture.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:29PM
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