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How to Fix a Screw Hole That Is Too Big

We’ve all experienced that ‘doh!’ moment when we’ve drilled a hole that ends up being too big.

Sometimes, when the problem isn’t too bad, it can be all-too-tempting to carry on and forget about the issue, all the while telling our wife, husband, or whoever else has asked us to tackle a bit of DIY that everything is fine and that ‘the hole is supposed to be over-sized’.


Well, when the curtain rail, coat rack, picture hook, or whatever else you’re trying to fix to the wall ends up working its way loose, you’re going to need to figure out a way to solve the issue once and for all.

Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place.

Our simple tips and tricks will not only help you figure out how to fix a screw hole that is too big in wood, drywall, or metal, but they’ll also help you save face and either maintain (or establish) your status as a DIY master.

A real win-win, eh?

So if you’re wondering how to fix a screw hole that is too big, here are ten different ways to fix oversized screw holes in a variety of materials:

  • Using a larger fixing
  • Using toothpicks to plug the gap
  • Inserting rawl plugs
  • Inserting wooden dowels
  • Inserting golf tees
  • Inserting nylon cable ties
  • Filling the hole with a mix of toilet paper and wood glue
  • Using a drywall repair kit
  • Filling the hole with an epoxy putty
  • Relocating the hole

Keep on reading as we’ll show you how to use each of these methods to deal with an oversized screw hole, complete with step-by-step instructions and handy tips.

Quick Links

How to Fix a Screw Hole That Is Too Big in Wood

How to Fix a Hole in Drywall That Is Too Big for a Screw

How to Fix a Metal Screw Hole That Is Too Big

How to Fix a Screw Hole That Is Too Big in Wood

Working with wood?

You’re in luck.

Wood is one of the quickest and easiest materials in which to fix oversized holes.

And, just as the saying goes – ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ (we’re not sure why you’d ever want to, though…) – there’s more than one way to fix an oversized hole in wood.

Here are a few options:

Use a Larger Fixing
Let’s start with the most straightforward option first; using a larger fixing.

Provided you have thicker-gauge screws to-hand, then why go to the hassle of filling and re-drilling the hole, or trying to plug the gap to make the screw fit tightly?

Simply stick in a thicker screw and be done with it.

an image showing an assortment of different screw sizes. Choosing a larger screw is one method of how to fix a screw hole that is too big

There are a few things to watch out for here, though.

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that the larger screw isn’t too thick to fit through whatever you’re looking to screw in. In some cases, you might need to expand the hole a bit through the coat rail, picture hook, or whatever else you’re fixing to allow the new screw to go through.

Secondly, screws tend to get longer as they get thicker, so make sure the new screw isn’t too long for wherever you intend to use it. The last thing you want is it coming through the other side of a wall!

Finally, if you’d prefer a flush finish between the screw’s head and whatever you’re attaching to the wall, make sure the new screw’s head isn’t too big to fit into the existing countersunk hole. You could always make the countersink bigger, but this will probably be more effort than finding a screw with a smaller head.

Insert Items to Plug the Gap
Using oversized fixings is all well and good, but what do you do if you don’t have any thicker screws to-hand?

The next method involves inserting items to plug the hole before reusing the original fixing.

There are plenty of ‘plug’ items to choose from:

  • Using Toothpicks or Matchsticks
  • Probably the least professional method of all, and something that you should only really use where whatever you’re fixing won’t be holding a lot of weight, is to insert toothpicks or matchsticks.

    Hole too big for screw? The toothpicks shown in this image are ideal for fixing oversized holes and for filling screw holes in wood

    The first step is to fill the oversized hole with wood glue.

    While the glue is still wet, insert toothpicks or matchsticks to fill the hole.

    Once dry, go ahead and trim the ends off the toothpicks or matchsticks so that the surface is flush.

    Finally, re-drill a small pilot hole (narrower than the width of the screw), before inserting the screw.

  • Using Rawl Plugs
  • Rawl plugs (often referred to as wall plugs) generally aren’t used in wood. There’s no need for them because the thread of the screw you’re using digs a channel into the wood to prevent them from falling out.

    When it comes to oversized holes, though, they can be an excellent ‘filler’ item to plug the hole before redrilling.

    Hole too big for screw? The rawl plugs shown in this image are ideal for fixing an oversized hole

    Simply coat the rawl plug in wood glue and insert it into the hole, then squeeze in some extra wood glue in the middle of the rawl plug for good measure.

    Once dry, drill a small pilot hole through the middle of the rawl plug before inserting the screw.

  • Using Wooden Dowels
  • Wooden dowels are another great ‘filler’ item. They will be able to hold more weight than matchsticks, toothpicks, or rawl plugs thanks to their tighter fit.

    Wondering what to do when a hole in the wall becomes to big for the screw? The dowel pins shown in this image form a great method for how to fix a screw hole that is too big in wood

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    If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a wooden dowel that’s the same diameter as the oversized hole you’ve just drilled. In most cases, though, you’ll need to widen the hole further to accommodate the width of the dowel.

    Once the hole and dowel diameters match, insert wood glue into the hole before inserting the wooden dowel, leaving a small amount of the dowel poking out.

    Once the wood glue has dried, leave a flush finish by cutting the end of the dowel.

    Finally, drill a small pilot hole and then insert the screw.

  • And If You’re Really Desperate…
  • No access to toothpicks, matchsticks, rawl plugs, or wooden dowels?

    Don’t worry; there are plenty of other household items that you can use, too.

    The load-bearing strength of these solutions (well, all of the methods mentioned in this article, in truth) will vary, so it’s worth testing them out beforehand.

    Here’s a few alternative options:

    • Substituting any of the items above for golf tees or nylon cable ties. Cover whatever item(s) you’re using in wood glue, fill the hole, cut the ends off until flush, squirt in some more wood glue, allow to dry, drill a pilot hole, and finally insert the screw to finish.
    • Carefully stuff steel wool into the hole using the end of a screwdriver. Once filled, insert the screw into the hole, and if all goes to plan, the steel wool will provide enough resistance to keep the screw in place while supporting lighter loads.
    • A mix of toilet paper and wood glue makes a handy homemade filler. Pour out a bottle cap’s worth of wood glue, and keep adding and mixing torn off pieces of tissue paper for a few minutes until it reaches a clay-like consistency. Add the ‘filler’ to the hole, and once dry, drill a small pilot hole through the center. Finally, go ahead and insert the screw.
Relocate the Hole Altogether
Perhaps the quickest and easiest, albeit least professional option is to relocate the hole.

If you’re lucky enough that whatever you’re screwing to the wall is big enough, you could drill another hole in another place, happy and content in the knowledge that your DIY errors will be concealed from the world.

It wouldn’t be our preferred choice, but nothing beats it in terms of minimizing hassle and allowing you to complete the job more quickly.

How to Fix a Hole in Drywall That Is Too Big for a Screw

When it comes to fixing holes in drywall, you also have a few options.

Aside from relocating the screw hole and hiding the mistake behind whatever you’re fixing, you could also try:

  • Using Toggle Bolts
  • Unfortunately, you can’t insert screws directly into drywall. Unlike in wood, the screw’s thread won’t cut a clean channel due to the fragile nature of drywall. It’s for this reason that we don’t recommend gluing in various items to plug the gap either – the bond between the glue and the drywall just won’t be strong enough.

    Our recommended solution is to use toggle bolts, which work by anchoring themselves to the back of the drywall the more you tighten the bolt.

    Hole for your drywall anchor too big? The toggle bolts shown in this image are an ideal fix if you've drilled hole too big in drywall

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    Provided the hole you’ve drilled isn’t excessively large, pop the anchor bolt through whatever you want to attach to the wall, through the existing hole, and allow it to anchor itself to the back of the drywall when tightened.

    Aside from being tremendously convenient, toggle bolts are also capable of supporting a great deal of weight. The exact weight will depend on the size of the bolt, and how thick the drywall is, so make sure to correctly match the toggle bolt to the weight of whatever it is you want to attach to the wall.

  • Using a Drywall Repair Kit
  • Another solution in drywall is to use a high-strength hole repair kit, which provides a professional finish capable of being painted over, and that can be screwed into once fully cured.

    Here’s an example of a popular repair kit:

    an image of a drywall repair kit. These kits are a good option for people figuring out how to fix a screw hole that is too big and filling screw holes in general

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    These kits come with everything you need to get started, including the rapid-setting compound, a self-adhesive patch, a putty knife, and sanding pad.

    If you’re looking to return the drywall to ‘good as new’ before redrilling the hole, this is probably the best option.

How to Fix a Metal Screw Hole That Is Too Big

Depending on the thickness of the metal you’re working with, toggle bolts will probably be the go-to option for fixing oversized holes in metal.

Similar to drywall, you can also use a compound to return the material to its former glory before redrilling the correct sized hole. One such product is SteelStik from J-B Weld; a hand-mixable, steel-reinforced epoxy putty that you can use on aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, iron, and stainless steel. It sets in between 3-5 minutes and can be painted and redrilled after only 60-minutes to the correct size for your fixing.

an image of metal repair epoxy putty

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Final Remarks

As you can see, there are plenty of fixes for oversized holes regardless if you’re working with wood, drywall, or metal.

From leaving the hole where it is and redrilling another, to filling and concealing it to the point where you’d struggle to know there was ever a hole there, you should be able to find a solution that suits you regardless of your DIY skills and abilities.

Remember, if using an off-the-shelf product, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions, and if using a ‘homemade’ solution, trial it beforehand to ensure it will be strong enough to hold up whatever you’re looking to screw in.

If you still have any questions or queries that we haven’t answered above, feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks, and good luck!

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll probably enjoy our other DIY How-To articles too.

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Author: Jon Maxwell
Senior Writer, ToolCrowd
Jon Maxwell writes about various topics for ToolCrowd, including tool reviews, material advice, common home problems, and general DIY advice and how-to articles. His work has been published in national publications for audiences including consumers, homeowners, and industry experts. Jon has a bachelor's degree in Building Surveying and a master's degree in a branch of Civil Engineering focusing on concrete and steel durability. When he isn't writing for ToolCrowd, Jon enjoys completing DIY tasks in his own home, as well as woodworking in his home workshop, snowboarding, and website development. Contact Jonarrow_right_alt