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Making Minor Drywall Repairs before Painting

Before you start painting an interior, check the walls carefully. You probably have a few minor dings or nail holes to repair. Buy a small container of spackling compound and apply it with a putty knife. When it's dry, sand the patch smooth with fine sandpaper on a rubber or padded sanding block. Because spackling compound tends to shrink, you may need to add another coat to fill the remaining indentation.

Popped nails are an all-too-common problem with drywall installation. The nails, which were originally set below the surface and concealed with joint compound, pop out enough to make a bump or even break the surface. Use this four-step solution to correct this problem:

  1. Secure the drywall tightly to the framing with new nails or, better yet, drywall screws, one on either side of the popped nail.

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    On walls, studs are vertical, so drive fasteners above and below the popped nail. On a ceiling, you can usually tell which way the framing is running by the line of popped nails or by tapping lightly. A tap sounds hollow between framing and more solid on the framing.

  2. Drive the popped nail back where it belongs.

    Because the new fasteners are doing all the work, the popped nail should stay put this time. Drive both the new fasteners and the popped nail so that they're just below the surface but don't break the paper facing of the drywall.

  3. Apply two or three coats of joint compound to conceal the fasteners and dimpled areas around them.

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    Scoop a glob of compound onto a 5- or 6-inch taping knife. Apply it to the wall with the knife held at about a 45-degree angle to the surface. Then draw a clean knife across the patch in a direction perpendicular tothe first pass and with the knife nearly flat against the wall. Allow the compound to dry (anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the humidity) and apply another coat.

  4. After the compound dries, sand the area smooth with fine sandpaper on a sanding block.

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