Repairing a small hole in a plaster ceiling or wall is a reasonably straightforward job. The repair being carried out in the pictures is to a ceiling which got damaged by a minor leak from a pipe in the attic above.
Water leaking onto a ceiling can easily damage a large area as it spreads so a small hole was punched through to allow the water to drain while the source of the leak was attended to.
Check beforehand that there is nothing in the way above – pipe work, cables and the like. You don’t want to do any more damage. Cut back the edges of the hole to sound plasterboard leaving a reasonably regular shape.
Assuming that there isn’t a convenient joist immediately above, cut a section of timber which is will overlap the opening by a couple of inches at both ends. The piece of wood should be as wide as possible but still able to be fed through the hole. If you cut it to the same width as the hole, it will go through. Fix a long screw into the centre of the wood then, holding the wood at a slight angle, feed it through the hole with the screw pointing downwards. Position it so that it overlaps equally at both ends.
Fix the wood in position by screwing through the plaster at each end and into the wood. You will now realise the purpose of the screw put in the middle – to hold the wood in place while you fix it.
With the wood in place, you can now cut a new piece of plasterboard to the same size as the hole. First offer the plasterboard up to the hole and mark the width. Cut the plasterboard with a craft knife on one side then fold it back on itself. Cut the paper layer on the other side and discard the off cut. Hold the cut section up to the hole again and mark the length. Cut as before.
Now, having checked that the new piece of plasterboard fits neatly into the hole, fix it in position with a couple of dry lining screws. Using dry lining screws makes life easier as they have sharp points and will pierce the surface easily and drive in rapidly.
Mix up a small amount of finish plaster to a creamy consistency and trowel it over the repair leaving it as smooth as possible. Make sure that you take the plaster over the edges of the hole a little way. Allow the plaster to set up a little before polishing it up to smooth out any small marks. Work the edges to feather them so that the join is perfectly smooth. You can always use a bit of filler later if needs be. You can read more about skimming plasterboard here.Allow the repair to dry completely then touch in the paintwork. New paint often shows against the old paint but you can minimise this by teasing out the edges to blend them.