Little Welts on the Walls


Dear NH,
Some of the screws or nails in our wallboard are puffing out; that is there are little raises in the walls. What is the best way to fix these. The house is about four years old and was constructed from during the winter/spring of 1994

Dear PF,
The defect you describe is fondly referred to in the trade as "nail pops". After a house is built, the wood framing tends to lose moisture once it is no longer exposed to the elements. The wallboard, which had been firmly nailed or screwed to these wall framing members, or studs, suddenly has a slight gap behind it... gasp... the wood has shrunken away! The nail pops occur when either normal seasonal shifting in the house or the touch of a human hand (or head... or foot) causes the wallboard to move towards the stud. The nails, of course, remain in position. The compound covering the nail heads is pushed outwards, forming the slight rise, or "pop".

To perform a repair you need to do two things. First, scratch the wallboard compound from the head of the fastener to see if it is a nail of screw. If it is a nail, hammer it back in. If it is a screw, turn it until is below the level of the wall..

Next, you must add additional fasteners to stabilize the wallboard so that the "pop" doesn't recur. Simply driving in the old nail/screw is not sufficient. Press the wallboard solidly against the stud and install one nail or screw a few inches above the pop, and another a few inches below it. It is not necessary to remove the original fastener... just drive it back in beneath the surface. Once the wallboard is solidly fastened, cover all the nail heads with a coat or two of drywall compound, sanding as necessary after the final coat dries.

Sometimes, this can become a "Rube Goldberg"... fixing one pop causes another to appear. This means that there has been excessive shrinkage in the wall studs, and you will have to do more banging, screwing, and patching to get the job right!

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