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Simple Steps for Repairing Drywall Nail Pops

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Nail pops are annoying imperfections that show up in drywall ceilings and interior walls, and can recur if they aren’t repaired properly. Usually about the size of a quarter, these “pops” are either dimples or bubbles that occur over the point at which the drywall has been affixed to the wood framing — either by nail or drywall screw — as the house (usually a new one) settles. These step-by-step instructions will make repairing nail pops easy.

What You Need to Repair Drywall Nail Pops

  • Drywall screws
  • Hammer
  • Nail punch
  • Multipurpose joint compound
  • Safety glasses
  • 4-inch drywall taping knife
  • Drill with screwdriver attachment
  • Fine-grit sandpaper

Step by Step to Repair Nail Pops

  1. Use the hammer to drive the protruding nail back into the wall, being careful not to break the paper face on the drywall. The result will be a small, round indentation in the wall. If the nail doesn’t move much, place the nail punch in the center of the nail pop and drive the nail so that it is slightly recessed from the wall. If the pop is the result of a drywall screw and not a nail, use the drill to drive the screw into the drywall until it is slightly recessed.
  2. Secure the drywall to the wooden studs using a drywall screw (drywall screws don’t tend to shift as much as nails). Place a drywall screw just above the existing nail. Use the drill to drive the drywall screw into the wall until it is just below the surface.
  3. Place another drywall screw just below the original nail or screw, inside the circular depression you created in step 1. Use the drill to drive the drywall screw into the wall, just below the surface.
  4. Use the drywall taping knife to apply a light layer of joint compound over the holes. Smooth the excess with the knife so that it’s flush with the wall. Don’t worry if the indentations are still visible.
  5. Allow the joint compound to dry for two to four hours.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
  7. Inspect the area. Joint compound shrinks when it dries, so it may be necessary to apply a third coat.
  8. Lightly sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper.
  9. Apply primer to the repair area, then paint.

    Tips

    • Always wear safety goggles
    • Be forewarned: Additional nail pops may form along the stud you are working on or those adjacent to it, because your repairs are disturbing the wallboard and causing it to move. Be prepared to make additional repairs, using the same procedure outlined above. Take heart, however; a correctly repaired pop should never re-emerge.
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