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Walls and Trim: What is It? What to Do About It?

Clearing Up a Few Mysteries


Questions come in here describing things about walls and trim that may seem basic to some people, mysterious to others. Here are a few wall and trim "mysteries" and what to do about them.

What is It: Dime-sized bulge in wall

What to Do About It: It's a nail pop. Back before drywall screws become the common way of fastening drywall, nails were used. Pound the nail back with a nailset, spackle over, and paint.

What is It: Green drywall

What to Do About It: Assuming you're not referring to moldy green drywall, then it's simply greenboard. It's moisture-hardy drywall for damp applications. Nothing to do about it: Greenboard is good. But if greenboard is behind the ceramic tile in your shower, then that's a problem. Greenboard is for lightly damp areas, but not for wet areas like showers and baths.

What is It: Finger-Sized bulges behind my plaster walls

What to Do About It: Behind? Sound like "keys." Plaster workers would force the wet plaster through the lath (the wood framework) hard enough to create bulges on the other side. Keys are good because they hold the plaster in. Don't knock them off. Keep them.

What is It: Cracks in plaster that seem to indicate foundation trouble

What to Do About It: Not necessarily. Cracks in plaster is a part of life for plaster wall owners. No need to panic. Even if you do have some foundation settlement, that's a part of life for old house owners. Contact a foundation repair company if you really believe you have settling that could impact your house.

What is It: Two studs nailed side by side within the wall

What to Do About It: Not an ordinary thing and difficult to diagnose from the description, but the builders migth have sistered a stud because the original stud was cracked or otherwise worthless. Most builders would knock out the bad one and replace, so perhaps a homeowner did this. Unless several studs are like this, not to worry.

What is It: "Joins" in baseboards coming apart

What to Do About It: As much as possible, builders will put a long, continuous baseboard down, to avoid "joins." If not, they make complementary angled scarf joints, which aren't perfect but do help hide the line. Drive two or three fine finish nails perpendicular to the "join" so that you are connecting one half of the baseboard to the other. The wood is so thin at this point that you risk splitting the wood, so use a thin nail and be careful. Just remember that you need to connect baseboard to baseboard, not baseboard to wall.

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