How to Fix Nail Pops in Drywall

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Drywall nail pops are small, raised circular areas that appear on your walls or ceilings that indicate the head of a popped nail is pushing against your drywall, causing visible strain.
Nail pops, although unsightly, are a mostly benign problem caused by drywall or wood shifting; however, if left too long, they can break through the drywall or crack your paint.
Here’s how to fix nail pops in your drywall before they cause further damage.

What you’ll need

To fix nail pops in your drywall, you’ll need:
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • A cordless drill
  • A multipurpose joint compound
  • A hammer
  • A putty knife
  • Drywall sanding sponge
  • A box of 1 5/8” drywall screws

Fixing drywall nail pops

Although you need quite a few tools and materials, the actual process of fixing nail pops is relatively easy and only takes a few minutes.
Put on your safety glasses and use a hammer to beat the nail back into the wall. Be careful during this process as you want to avoid damaging the drywall. A smooth-headed hammer is best for this, rather than one with a grid or waffle-head. This process will create a dimple in the wall where the nail was sticking out.
With the drill and driver bit, insert two drywall screws to secure the drywall to the stud. Place one screw about an inch above the popped nail and the other about an inch below. Once your drywall is adequately secured to the stud, it will prevent the nail from having room to pop in the future.

Covering your tracks

To cover the drywall screws and the dimple left behind by the nail pop, apply a layer of joint compound and smooth away any excess with a putty knife. Wait until it dries (at least 24 hours) and then apply a second coat. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly smooth. Once it has dried, sand with the drywall sanding sponge until smooth and then you’re ready to apply a fresh coat of paint.

Why nail pops happen

Drywall nail pops are usually caused by subtle shifts in your home’s foundation or wood framing, and are therefore nothing to be concerned about.
That being said, if your wall surface regularly experiences nail pops, especially in a localized area, it could merit further inspection. In the worst-case scenarios, nail pops could indicate foundation problems. Needless to say, foundation issues are harder to fix than a few simple nail pops, so if you think there might be a problem with your nail pop area, call a professional to have it inspected.

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