What Can I Use to Cover a Hole in My Ceiling From an Old Light Fixture?

Removing the Box

If you want to permanently patch the hole with drywall, which is one option for covering the hole, you need to remove the electrical box. This is easy to do if you have access to the attic. If the box is nailed in, simply pull it out with a pry bar; if it’s attached with screws, just unscrew it. If you can’t get in the attic, the best option is to cut out a section of drywall large enough to access the box. Don’t worry; large holes in drywall aren’t much more difficult to repair than small ones.

Things You’ll Need

Making Drywall Patches for Large Holes

  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Utility knife
  • Drywall saw
  • Piece of drywall
  • Drywall screws
  • Furring board strips
  • Saw
  • Electric drill
  • Pencil

Spackling and Sanding a Patch

  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Putty knife
  • Spackle
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Water-based primer
  • Paintbrush or roller


Cut Out the Damage

  1. Use a stud finder to locate the two ceiling joists that run just outside the damaged Sheetrock.

  2. Drive a small nail into the middle of each ceiling joist above and below the damaged area. You will have four nails that from a rectangular, two above and two below the damaged drywall on either side.

  3. Pop a chalk line from one nail to the next, forming a rectangular line on the ceiling. The rectangle will extend all the way around the damaged section.

  4. Hold a straight edge on the chalk line and cut through the Sheetrock with a sharp utility knife, scoring the face of the drywall at least ΒΌ inch deep all the way around. Go back and cut all the way through the drywall panel along the scored lines.

  5. Tap the drywall rectangle out if it doesn’t come out freely. If it’s large, one or more drywall nails may be holding it in place. Remove the nails after the drywall is out.

Using Cover Plates

Two options exist for cover plates. If you leave the electrical box in place, you can choose a metal or vinyl cover plate large enough to hide the hole and screw it to the electrical box. If you remove the box, use a spring-loaded cover plate. This handy facade has an anchor that spans the opening and holds the plate tightly against the ceiling. You can paint both screw-on or spring-loaded cover plates with the same paint you used to paint the ceiling, but it will always remain visible. You may want to paint a design on it to take advantage of this fact.

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