Do It Yourself: How To Fix Raised Nails In Drywall

Easy tips and techniques on how to remove and repair nail pops and screw pops, the bumps that emerge from under your drywall, before painting walls in your home.

Nails that pop out of dry wall are commonly called nail pops. Many times, these small raised areas are almost unnoticeable - until you decide to paint. Trying to paint over a nail pop may cause it to become the focal point of your wall! Something about the fresh paint really makes this type of imperfection stand out, so it is much better to spend a few minutes to repair the problem before the paint goes on.

Nail pops are caused by movement. Nail pops occur in older homes as well as in new construction, and rarely are caused by improper installation. Drywall is either nailed or screwed to the stud supporting the wall. Anytime wood is subjected to changes in humidity or extremes in temperature, it can expand or contract. Over time, these small movements can force the nail out to the surface of the drywall, and you have a nail pop. High winds, earthquakes, and other sources of vibration can also cause nail pops. Screws are less likely to pop out, but they also do so, and the repair procedure is the same for both nail pops and screw pops.

Depending on the severity of the problem and your tolerance for "good enough" solutions, there are several ways to repair the nail pop. The simplest repair is use a nail set to drive the nail back into the stud, and fill the hole with white toothpaste. While this might buy you a little time, it is well worth it to take the time to make a more permanent repair. First, gently pry off the loose drywall around the pop, and use a nail set to drive the nail about 1/8 inch deeper back in to the stud. Or if a screw was used to attach the drywall, tighten the screw several turns. Clean out any loose material from the hole, and use several thin coats of patching compound to fill in the hole. Finish by sanding and painting. This will provide a quick repair, but it will not last as long as reattaching the drywall to the stud.

If you are ready to solve the problem, then refasten the drywall to the stud. Go ahead and pry out the old fastener that failed. Rather than use the same hole, go 4 to 6 inches above or below the old fastener. Use a 1-1/4 inch drywall screw to reattach the drywall to the stud. Make the last few turns carefully, and try to stop when the head of the screw is slightly recessed, but the paper part of the drywall has not been broken through. Press against the wall to see if it flexes. If there is excessive movement, try fastening more screws along the stud. Along the way you may need to back out loose screws, or use a nail set to pound loose nails into the stud.

Now the wall may look worse than when you began, but you are almost done. Use your favorite patching compound to fill in the holes. Apply several thin layers, and use a putty knife to smooth over the final coat. Once dry, sand lightly until the surface is smooth. Because the newly patched area may take the paint differently than the old wall, it is worth your while to use a good quality primer to seal the repair. Finally, paint over the repair, and it should blend in beautifully with the rest of the wall. It may take a little more time to do the job the right way, but I think that the results are worth the extra work. I hope you will too!

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