For a very long time, I avoided all drywall work. I hate drywall. It seemed no matter how careful I was, no matter how much I patched or sanded, my drywall patches always turned out looking horrible. Then I discovered the secret to drywall patching (in other words, I figured out what I was doing wrong): patch in very, very thin layers. That’s it. And since we recently moved into an older home that had settled and had plenty of small cracks in need of patching, I put my new skill to use.
Step One: Use a utility blade to ‘cut out’ the crack- this should just be deep enough to cut through the top paper layer of drywall:
Step Two: Use a putty knife to remove the paper layer (you can see in the second photo, my patch area expanded)
Step Three: Using pretty wet mixed drywall compound, work a very thin layer, and scrape off any excess so little to no compound remains on the clean part of the wall.
If you work in thin layers, you shouldn’t really do any sanding. When the drywall compound is dry, simply use a putty knife or drywall knife to scrape off any high points and repeat step three a total of 2 or 3 times. When it comes time to paint, do one coat on all the drywall patched areas first, and then proceed with two coats on the entire wall- this will help give the patched area more texture making it even less noticeable.
Now there is no longer a need to fear drywall patching!