Drywall - How to Fix Popped Screws and Nails

Applying drywall compound to a nail pop

Popped screws and nails signal an issue behind the drywall, so you need to do more than just drive them back into the wall to fix the problem. Reattaching the drywall to the frame keeps the problem from popping up again down the road.

Causes of Screw and Nail Pops

When a screw or nail pops out of the wall, one of the most common causes is shrinkage in the lumber behind the drywall. This shrinkage happens when the lumber used during construction has a high moisture content. Nail and screw pops due to shrinkage can happen any time, but the home heating season can speed up the process. Other potential causes include improper fastening that leaves the drywall loose, fasteners that aren't the correct length, and issues with the framing, such as warping, bowing, bending, twisting or misalignment.

Reattaching the Drywall

Screws or nails popping out of the wall indicate that the drywall is not properly secured to the frame in that area. Simply screwing or nailing the fasteners back into the wall won't fix the problem. Instead, you need to insert new fasteners in an undamaged spot near the popped fastener to secure the drywall.

Drywall screws offer the most secure way to reattach the drywall to the frame. Use 1 1/4-inch drywall screws to secure standard 1/2-inch drywall. Drywall nails are also an option.

Drive a new drywall screw into the wall about 1 to 2 inches above the popped screw. Drive another screw below the popped screw. Make sure the screws go securely into the framing. You want the new screws recessed slightly without breaking the drywall covering. These screws keep the drywall from moving, which prevents additional popped nails or screws in the future. Once you secure the drywall with new screws, you can reset the popped nail or screw, or you can remove it completely.

Repairing the Wall

A little drywall repair finishes up the job to create a smooth wall surface. If the popped fastener caused the drywall to break or crumble, remove the loose pieces. Fill in the hole with a lightweight spackling compound for quick drying time and quality results. Apply the compound with a drywall knife, drawing it across the wall to smooth out the surface.

Repeat this filling process to cover the new screws that you just installed. Skim the immediate area surrounding the screw heads, and allow the compound to dry. If necessary, reapply one or two additional layers to get complete coverage of the screws.

Applying drywall compound to a nail pop

Sand the dried compound after the final coat to get a smooth finish. Use fine sandpaper to avoid removing large chunks of the compound. You simply want to smooth out the area.

The final repair step is to repaint the area to hide the drywall compound. Blend in the paint with the surrounding area to create a seamless look.

Fixing popped screws and nails isn't difficult, but it does require more than just driving the fastener back into the wall. With a little extra effort, you can produce professional results that prevent future nail and screw pops for your clients.