Drywall nails usually involved in nail pops

Q.: I’ve been planning to paint a bedroom for a few months now, but I’ve discovered a problem. Various dimples appear on the walls. I tried to fix them by putting spackle in but they keep coming back. I’m sick of fixing these. So what can I do?

ON: They have a case of dreaded nail pops, and they make your drywall look like it caught chickenpox. These defects appear on the drywall and can have pits or bulges. Smoothing the wall surface certainly won’t fix the problem. it’ll just make it go away for a while.

Nail pops are caused by movement in either the drywall or the wooden stud behind it. It may be that the stud shrank as it dried out, creating space between it and the drywall. It may also be that the plumber got a little sloppy during the original drywall installation and didn’t properly secure them together. He left some play between the two surfaces.

It is usually the case that drywall nails are involved in nail popping (hence the name), but screws are occasionally seen. When a drywall nail or screw is hammered into the drywall, it is placed just below the surface of the wall board. The drywall grout is then floated over the divot to create a smooth, seamless surface.

However, if there is a gap between surfaces it doesn’t take much to pop a nail. Factors like time, doors slamming, and pictures hanging can cause this. Even repairing a recent nail bang can make additional ones appear by pressing down on the wall. Sometimes this movement causes the grout on the head of the nail to squeeze out and create a bump, and sometimes the drywall pulls outward, creating a divot.

How do you make it go away?

When the nail sticks out of the drywall enough for you to grab it, pull it out. If you have a bulge, you’ll need to use a sharp utility knife and cut out the bulge, but remove as little as necessary as you don’t want to damage the paper.

Use 1¼ inch drywall screws and screw one a few inches above and below the blemish. Buy screws with a coarse thread instead of a fine thread, as they “grip” a little more. Turn the screws until they sink just below the surface of the drywall, but not so deep that they cut through the drywall paper.

If you can run a putty knife over the area and don’t hear a “click” of the putty knife hitting the head of the screw, the depth is okay. The screws should sink into the wall stud. and when you screw them in make sure you press against the drywall so there is no space between the surfaces. Then there will be no more movement in the future.

After inserting the screws, use a spatula and fill in the indentations left by the repair. You may need to apply a few coats of grout as it shrinks. When the joint is dry, you can sand it smooth, texturize it, and then start painting.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions can be emailed to [email protected] Or send an email to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, # 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. Its web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.

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