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Putting the Stop on Nail Pops

Nail pops are those nail head bumps or crescent-shaped cracks in the wall or ceiling. They occur when nails work themselves loose, literally popping out above the surface of the drywall. Unfortunately, they happen for as long as you own your home. If you get one, you need to fix it.

In addition to the tools mentioned in the previous section you will need:

  • Hammer
  • Drill or driver
  • Nail set (or large nail)
  • 15/8-inch drywall screws
  • 15/8-inch drywall nails

Here's how you do the repair:

  • Drive new drywall screws into the wall stud or ceiling joist a couple of inches on either side of the popped fastener.

The screws should pull the drywall tight against the framing, and the screw heads should barely dimple into the drywall.

  • Use the hammer and nail set to drive a new nail immediately adjacent to the existing one.

Try to nail the new nail into the same hole as the old one. Part of the head of the new nail will overlap the head of the old nail. Use the nail set to slightly recess the new nail (about a 1/16 of an inch). The head of the new nail will prevent the old nail from slipping out again.

  • With the 6-inch taping knife, apply a smooth, flat coat of compound over the dimpled heads of the new fasteners and the hole left by the old nail.

Let the compound dry completely.

  • Lightly sand the patch with the fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Apply a second coat of compound. Let the compound dry, and then lightly sand it again.
  • Prime and paint.

You can find nail pops (and other defects) by shining bright light at a shallow angle to the wall. Set a floor lamp about a foot from the wall in question, put in a 100-watt bulb and remove the lampshade. You'll be amazed at how the nail pops pop out at you.