Repairing Nail Pops In Sheetrock

As a cost cutting means, the drywall, or sheetrock work is “subbed” out to the lowest bidder. The result is often less than a perfect job. Even jobs that look great initially, will often start to develop what are called “nail pops”.

This is the result of using rough framing parts that aren’t kiln dried. Typically, once the house has been through seasonal changes, being both heat and Air Conditioning, the framing lumber tends to dry out, stabilizing the moisture content in the wood. As this happens, the wood changes in size. This size change forces the nail head to be pulled into the sheetrock, breaking the integrity of the paper face. Then, as the wood expands, the nail is pushed out, “popping” the nail loose.

This can make a fine room look terrible, as it will have unsightly spots scattered around the ceiling and walls. Many new home builders will recommend not dealing with these, or even painting the interior of a home for at least a year after it has been built. Assuming the house has been through the seasonal changes, you an fix these nail pops, and be done with them once and for all.

It isn’t a matter of simply driving the nails back in, and expecting them to remain out of site from then on. I have had the pleasure of repairing many homes that have been dealing with this problem for years. Each time the rooms have been repainted, the nails were driven back in, and spackled over. It looks good long enough for the painter to get paid, but is certainly not a long term solution. Nailing the area around the nail pop will lead to the same results as your trying to fix.

The way we fix these popped nails is to refasten the drywall to the framing members. For this to work permanently, it is important to hold the drywall tight to the framing members, prior to installing drywall screws. We add screws about 3″ away from both sides of the popped nail. Often, we’ll add a series of screws, following the framing member, and spaced about 3 or 4 inches apart. While this sounds a little extreme, it will solve the problem, once and for all.

It is important to “set” the screw properly. The idea is to have the head recessed, but not tear the paper face of the drywall. Using a drywall screw gun, adjust the front nose to set the screw to the proper depth. If you’re using a cordless drill, it is a good idea to leave them a little proud of the final depth, then set them with a screw driver.

Once the area is secure to the framing members, you either remove the popped nail, or drive it below the surface. The important thing when driving it in is to not break the papera round the screws you just added. Placing your hand near the nail head and putting pressure on the drywall, prior to hitting the nail with a hammer will reduce the chance of the screw heads from breaking through the paper face, leaving you with the same problem you started with.

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