Repair Drywall Nail Pops

Drywall nail pops and screw pops are a very common type of drywall damage. “Popping” is far more likely to happen with nails than with screws, which is one of the reasons we strongly recommend the use of screws while installing drywall.

Fixing drywall nail pops (or screw pops) is not difficult, and requires only a few simple tools.

Necessary Tools & Materials

  • Spackle
  • 2 or 4” Drywall (Putty) Knife
  • 150 Grit Sandpaper
  • Hammer or Screwdriver
  • Primer

Before you begin, however, ensure that you have not only the few tools and materials listed above, but also a small supply of paint that matches the color of your wall.

It is advised, especially if you intend to patch a number of spots on the same wall, that you prime and repaint the entire wall when complete to avoid having areas of paint that looker “fresher” than the rest of the wall. Paint, like everything else, fades slightly with age and is discolored by dust, smoke, or dirt.

If you decide to repaint only a single patch on the wall, be advised that newly-painted patches may be visible after completion. If this happens, we advise that you repaint the entire wall.

Step One – Preparing the Drywall Nail Hole

Take a close look at the drywall nail pops (or screw pops). Carefully remove any broken paper or plaster fragments around the entrance to the hole with a razor knife.

Step Two – Remove or Refasten Drywall Nail Pop

If the damaged piece is a screw, twist it back into place with a screwdriver. If a nail, drive it back into place with a few gentle taps of a hammer. Note: striking the wall too hard will dent and possibly damage the drywall.

If the nail or screw does not seem to “catch” on a stud beneath the drywall, it will have to be removed completely and the hole patched over. If it is not removed, this problem is likely to crop up again in the future.

The nail or screw should be driven just below the flush surface of the drywall to create a very slight dimple. Do not overtighten and attempt not to break the surface of the drywall paper.

Step Three – Fill The Hole

Place a small amount of patching spackle on a putty knife and press it into the dent. On the first pass the knife should be held at a 45 degree angle, to fill the hole. Then come back over the top with the knife almost straight up and down (90 degree angle) to scrape away most of the excess spackle.

Wait the appropriate amount of time for the spackle to dry (drying times vary by brand – consult the spackle packaging). Once dry, run your hand across the surface of the spackle. If the spackle is level or slightly humped above the surface of the drywall, you are ready to move onto Step Four.

Note: Spackling occasionally shrinks during the drying process, so if your spackling patch is indented or cratered below the surface of the drywall, apply a second coat of spackling and allow to dry before progressing to the next step.

Step Four – Sanding The Patch

Now that you’ve patched your drywall dents with spackle, you need to give the area a light sanding with 150 grade sandpaper. Ensure that you sand any humps or ridges in your spackle flush with the rest of the wall.

Step Five – Priming the Repair

Now, prior to repainting the patch to match the rest of your wall, you will need to spot prime over the area with a drywall primer. If you do not prime the spackled area it will show up as a shinier area of paint on your wall.

Now you are free to repaint the spot. In some cases, the repainted spot in the middle of the wall may be noticeable, particularly if the paint on the wall is old and has faded. In these cases, the best practice is to repaint the entire wall.

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