How to Fix Nail Pops in Walls and Ceilings

Fixing nail pops is a common home repair. Nail pops are bumps or crescent-shaped cracks in walls and ceilings. Knowing how to fix nail pops properly helps keep new ones from forming in the same place.

Nail pops are caused when construction nails work themselves loose, literally popping out from the surface of the drywall. The popped nail pushes out a bit of drywall or paint, creating a small bump or crack. Every home gets nail pops. If you get one, you need to fix it.

1

Gather your materials.

You'll need a hammer, a drill or screwdriver, a nail set, 1-5/8-inch drywall screws, 1-5/8-inch drywall nails, drywall compound, and a putty knife.

2

Drive new drywall screws a couple of inches on either side of the nail pop.

Be sure to put the screws into the wall stud or ceiling joist. The screws will tighten the drywall. The new screws should barely dimple into the drywall.

3

Drive a new nail immediately adjacent to the popped nail using the hammer and nail set.

Try to nail the new nail as close to the original hole as you can. The head of the new nail will overlap the old nail, preventing the old nail from slipping out again. Slightly recess the new nail (about a 1/16 of an inch).

4

Apply a coat of compound over the new fasteners and the old nail.

With the 6-inch taping knife, make the coating smooth and flat. Let the compound dry completely.

5

Sand the patch.

Lightly sand the patch with the fine-grit sandpaper.

6

Apply a second coat of compound.

Let the compound dry, and then lightly sand it again.

7

Paint over the patch with primer.

Don’t skip this step or you’ll end up with a permanently goofy-looking, non-matching area.

8

Apply touch up paint to the patch in your wall color.

This is why you saved that half a gallon of leftover wall 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. Voilà! You’ll be amazed at how the nail pops pop out at you.

If you use a brush for touch ups, the paint will dry with noticeable brush strokes unless the wall was originally brush painted. To match the finish texture of a wall that was painted with a roller, use a foam brush or a painting pad.

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