How do I fix a flakey wall above the shower stall?


We just moved in a new home, one of the many areas need fixing is a wall right above the shower that’s flaking of old crumbling speckle. Looks like previous owners tried to fix it at one point. But I don’t think they used the right material. I would appreciate your advice on how to fix this ourselves. Can I shave off the crumbles, sand and use a waterproof spackle, use a few coats of waterproof primer then paint? If so, WhT products do you recommend? Besides the crumbling spackle The wall seems to be sturdy, so we’re hoping not having to replace it.

q how do i fix a flakey wall above the shower stall
  26 answers
  • Moisture is the main problem. You may want to install a fan in the bathroom. That being said, you will need to scrape any loose pieces, spackle and sand. Use a good primer and then repaint.

    • See 1 previous
    • That's a shame, Grace, but it's great that you've identified the problem and it's a fairly easy fix!

  • on Nov 28, 2021

    Your plan to fix this sounds exactly right. You will want to choose products intended for bathrooms. The trouble is high humidity in the bathroom. Installing a fan will help, in the meantime opening the window to let the steam out will help.

    • See 1 previous
    • on Nov 29, 2021

      What also may be part of the problem is someone may have painted oil over latex at some point. Maybe? That will cause similar problems to this.

  • Dee Dee on Nov 28, 2021

    I would use Bondo or plaster. Over fill then sand down and make sure it is completely dry then prime with a good bonding primer and paint with a semi gloss paint to repel water.

  • Janice Janice on Nov 28, 2021

    You can scrape, then sand away the flakey areas above the shower surround, then apply Drylock Extreme White Flat Mildew Resistant Waterproofer paint available at the big box home improvement stores. This is typically used in basements for weatherproofing but will workk well in you situation.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Nov 28, 2021

    You would need to scrape off the area and then redo it with the correct spackling- use a product that is for bathrooms or damp areas. Sand it smooth and then prime and paint

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 28, 2021

    You first need to address the moisture problem. Do you have an exhaust fan?

    Almost all areas have building codes that must be adhered to regarding exhaust fans please check your local stats.

    • Grace Grace on Nov 29, 2021

      Hi, yes there’s an exhaust fan and a window in the bathroom.

  • William William on Nov 28, 2021

    You have the right idea. Use spackle compound. Do not use drywall compound. Drywall compound is for taping drywall, filling large holes, and working over large areas. Spackle is vinyl based and used for thin layers. Dries faster. Doesn't shrink as much as drywall compound. Use Kilz 2 primer. Then paint.

    • Grace Grace on Nov 29, 2021

      Great! Thank you for your response. I’m trying to find the right spackle to use. I’m thinking Dap spackle but wasn’t sure i should use the Dap Platinum patch or the Dap Alex Plus.

  • Tuula - Color Me Thrifty Tuula - Color Me Thrifty on Nov 28, 2021

    It sounds like you know how to fix the problem, but to stop it from recurring the room needs a way for moisture to get out like a fan, or an open window.

  • Annie Annie on Nov 28, 2021

    If you don't have an opening window in the bathroom, you really need to have a working ceiling fan in there. You won't get rid of the problem without one or the other.

    Once you get that part taken care of, it's an easy fix with some sanding, spackle and painting.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Nov 28, 2021

    More than the problem being caused from moisture, it looks to me as if the previous owners perhaps attached something (holder, rack, etc.) on to the wall of the shower, (by adhesive and staples). Then when they removed it before moving, they attempted (unsuccessfully) to quickly patch up the holes.

    You are on the right track in thinking how the area can be fixed.

    Follow William's advice to make the repair.

    • Grace Grace on Nov 29, 2021

      Thank you, yes there’s a exhaust fan in the bathroom. It’s not just that one spot, it’s all the way around the top of the stall. The “work” is crumbling into powder with a. Slight touch. I’m betting it’s not the right material used. So I wasn’t to avoid making the same mistake.

  • You'll need to sand it smooth, prime it and paint over it.

  • Betsy Betsy on Nov 28, 2021

    Hi Grace: Yeah, looks like they did a horrible job on this :( One thing I would do is to get a straight pin or needle and poke around the area to see if it's damaged. If the pin goes in easily in a large area, the wallboard may be wet and needs to be replaced. Did you buy a home insurance plan with the house? If so, this may be covered. If not, then you may be able to replace the area with a new piece of wallboard - green, it's for showers and water prone areas. There doesn't seem to be any caulking near the wall, so that has to be done. Here's how to replace a piece of wallboard:

    This looks long and complicated, but it's not. Well, yeah, it's long, but not complicated. I've done this a lot of times:

    Most times you can get scrap pieces of dry wall at your home improvement store free. Just ask if they have any. A no is better than a missed yes:) It's not as hard to do as it seems, even though this looks long, and you can do this for any type of hole in wallboard, on the wall or ceiling.

    Here's what you need.

    A piece of wallboard that is about 3" bigger than your hole. If it's for a water prone area, shower, tub, etc., get the green wallboard.

    a pencil,

    A pieces of string about 3 feet long with a knot at one end

    2 pieces of wood, like paint stirring sticks, 4" longer than the hole


    something to make 2 small holes in the new wall board and sticks


    A can of fruit, soup, beans or something, doesn't matter.

    Now, the destructions:)

    Cut the drywall so that it will cover your hole with a couple of inches all around. Now, draw around this piece of drywall, onto your wall. Remove it carefully, straight down, and don't turn it around at all. With the pencil, make a mark on the drywall piece to show which side is up and faces which way. Make a mark on the wall or ceiling, too, so you can match the marks. You're going to paint the area anyway, so the mark won't show. Or, you can make numbers on the drywall and wall so that you know what goes where. This way, you will have a perfect fit no matter how crazy the cut is. Now, cut the old drywall out along the pencil line, and if you're lucky, you will have the size of the new patch left in it, or at least close. Get the sticks and poke a hole in each one, in the middle at the centre of these sticks. They should be longer than the hole by 2 or more inches. Make a hole in the middle centre of your new wall board, to match the holes in the sticks. You can poke a nail through the holes in the sticks and make a hole in the drywall piece at the same time. Run the string through each of the paint sticks with the knot coming out of the back, facing the inside of the hole, and the string hanging on the outside of the wall. Glue the sticks firmly, to the inside of the wall or ceiling, gluing at the top and bottom of the sticks and facing opposite of each other, making a +. When they are fairly well set, put some Spackle on the rough edges of your patch, the sticks and the hole in the wall/ceiling. While that is drying a bit, pull the string through the back of the patch where you made the hole. Pull it all the way through, noting (ta da!) the position of the arrow! :), and push the patch into the hole. It should fit perfectly! Now, get your cans of fruit, beans, whatever and tie the string around the can. Let the can dangle, it will pull the paint sticks to the wall/ceiling and secure the patch to the wall/ceiling and sticks. This way, your patch won't push back inside if you push on it. Let this sit over night. When it seems secure and dry, (push it a bit) then you can cut the string close to the patch and maybe sand the end off if it is sticking out. Put the can back where it came from. Spackle the edges of your patched area, feathering the Spackle out and let it dry. Wipe with a damp cloth, or sand, your choice, and put another thin coat of Spackle all over the patch and edges, feathering the edges, and let dry then sand or wipe. Paint to match, when the paint is dry, put caulking around the area so that water doesn't seep in and there, you're all done! :) It's not as daunting as it seems. You can do this, I have faith in you. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can!:)

    Good luck

  • Seth Seth on Nov 28, 2021


    You can use joint compound, just not anything that says "light weight." Scape out anything that is wet and apply multiple thin layers. If the drywall is compromised from getting wet, I find it easier to just replace the whole section over that part of the tub as opposed to trying to fit in a patch.

  • I would use Kilz primer once the repair is done. Works great and it's mold and mildew resistant. It has a powerful odor though, definitely open windows, wear a mask and use it in a well ventilated space.

  • Maura White Maura White on Nov 28, 2021

    Since that's water damage, you'll need to sand that down. Then add some dry wall compound to fill in the gap. When it's dry, sand it flat and paint it with a more water resistant paint.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Nov 29, 2021

    Get a putty knife a wide one about 4 inch scrape all off till wall has nothing comings off then plaster over it and fill the area you will need to sand it then hit again with putty then paint after you sand smooth

  • William William on Nov 29, 2021

    Use the Dap Alex Plus. It's for patching all kinds of surfaces. Perfect for filling holes and cracks in surfaces such as drywall, plaster, wood, brick, metal and stone. Its ready-to-use, smooth white formula spreads easily for fast, professional repairs that will not sink, shrink or crack. Alex Plus Spackling is ideal for interior or exterior projects.

    Dap Platinum patch is basically an exterior patching compound. Can be used indoors. It should not be used for floors or as a caulk, sealant or joint filler over cracks & joints where expansion & contraction may occur or as a skim coat. It also should not be used when staining is preferred or for continuous underwater use.

    • Grace Grace on Nov 29, 2021

      my Concern is will it flake and crumble as the one that’s in there? Will it stick to the area as it dries? I hear about a vinyl spackle.. do you think that would be a good choice?

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 29, 2021

    Start with a scraper and scrape as much away as possible. Then you can patch with a product that is made for damp areas. Then sand, prime, and paint. Make sure to vent the area well so this doesn't happen again in the future.

  • William William on Nov 29, 2021

    It will stick with no problems. Dap Alex Plus is made for skim coats. Once primed it will be sealed. Vinyl spackling would be a good choice. Bonds better, less shrinking as it dries, and would be more moisture resistant. What I like to use is Dap Patch and Paint Lightweight patching compound. Goes on creamy, doesn't shrink, dries fast. I use just enough to cover the patch. Once it's dry I go over it with a damp sponge to smooth out the surface. I do this with any drywall installation or repair. Then prime and paint.

  • We had to do this and it came back. The end result was we needed a more powerful fan in the bathroom. But, sometimes the fan can be clogged and just needs to be cleaned. You'll need to sand it and prime, paint over it.

  • William William on Nov 29, 2021

    Your very welcome.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Nov 30, 2021

    That is a sign of moisture .. you can re compound but you might also thing about ventilation in this bathroom so this doesnt happen again

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Nov 30, 2021

    You will have to install a fan if you don’t have it otherwise it will come back.

  • That's definitely a moisture issue, especially if it goes all the way around. Be sure to check your fan to make sure it's not clogged, and make sure to run it every time the shower runs, or shower with the door open if possible. It could be that moisture is coming from behind causing this too, so check around if you can. The steam and warmth of the shower combined with cold air behind the wall can cause condensation in the wall and this as a result.

    As others have mentioned, if the stuff keeps falling out deeper as you touch it, you should consider replacing it with cement board. Home warranties won't cover this, just fyi, in general they're pretty useless.

    Get a good patching material, ask at the paint counter if need be and bring a photo, dig out a little further around the problem spots, fill, let dry, sand, then prime and paint.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 04, 2021

    You need to remove old plaster that has flaked off, rub down and smooth the area using spackle. When dry. Rub down smooth and then seal the whole wall or add more tiles. etc.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 28, 2021

    Extractor Fan should be installed to stop this from re-occuring.