Asked on Jan 12, 2013

What To Do About Nail Bulges In Drywall?

Jeff C
by Jeff C
While kilzing the walls in the house, I've noticed bulges in a straight line that would match that of the studs. Apparently, the Drywall was nailed into the studs instead of screwed. Anyway to get rid of these bulges to get a smoother looking wall? Perhaps this is only a Winter time, drying/contracting issue? At any rate, I was thinking of putting in a drywall screw right next to the bulge to fasten the drywall back to the studs but will this make the nail heads pop through the drywall?
  21 answers
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jan 12, 2013
    What we have always done when preparing to paint is to drive the nail back in using a punch with a sort of large end, then fill the indention with spackling, sand and paint. I am sure there are many other ways to handle this...i.e., pull out the nails and put in screws, but the basic cure is the best for DIY folks. Keep in mind this is a job requiring a "gentle touch". Do not go at it with a lot of force but a gentle tap, tap.
  • Jeff C Jeff C on Jan 12, 2013
    That may be a problem as I'm a guy and I love using force. Perhaps I'll instruct the wife what to do and she can use her gentle touch lol.
  • I would recomend a few screws to make sure the drywall is tight to the wall & then do as Jeanette says - this combination should help prevent the issue from coming back.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 12, 2013
    I'm with SLS...add some screws too, the nails could work their way back out it the drywall is not fully secured.
  • What has occurred is the rosin used on the nail has failed. This glue is applied on dry wall nails and is used to glue the nail into place. When driving the nail in it heats up effectively enough to melt the glue holding it in the wood. Lower cost nails often are not properly coated so they often fail. Add to that movement of the wall board helps draw them out. Ideally nailing them back in will work, as long as you drive another nail or screw next to it to assure no additional moving of the wall to the stud. Screws are the best bet, but remove the old nail in the process.
  • Jeff C Jeff C on Jan 23, 2013
    Not sure if removing the nails will be possible without being able to use Spackle to cover the areas back up. Won't the hole to remove the nail be too big to fill in with spackle? I think nailing them back in and then putting in a 2and half inch drywall screw will be the option I go with.
  • Just set the nail in good and place another nail or screw near by. Many are the result of the prior person not setting nail deep enough into the board.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jan 24, 2013
    I did not realize glue was added to drywall nails. Dried glue is probably why they start backing out after 40+ years! too bad they don't screw in the drywll too...put it in place and secure with screws and then finish off with nails.
  • It is really not a glue but the rosin applied to the nail warms up when it is hammered in helping the nail from coming out. Also the nails have a tiny grove cut into their surface that helps as well. Once the nail moves out the hole is pretty much shot as is the rosin that helped. So resetting it without putting another within an inch or two max will only result in it backing out again.
  • Jeff C Jeff C on Feb 08, 2013
    So I finally got around to addressing this problem. They were rusty nails that were popping through. I know I at least got one of the nails back into the stud but the others I;m not so sure about. I did add screws beneath each nail though.
  • Raya Deych Raya Deych on Dec 10, 2013
    Helllo Jeff, You have a problem and it seems to properly repair you need to get the nails out and put screws in or install Lu Ann thin wall board and repair as was done in this Old Farm House with 4x4 size drywall. We installed over the Drywall, then the Styroform Tile. But you cannot use Styrofoam on the Wall as it is to fragile. But you could use PVC Back Splash in Rolls.
  • Retro Steam Works Retro Steam Works on Dec 16, 2013
    Right Jeff, they are rusted nails. I have the same problem in my 1982 home. What I have done with some, is to pull the damaged nail and repair the hole, then drive a screw close to it to secure the drywall. It is a pain in the neck because it was only after I repainted my entire home that I noticed it.
  • Lynne Lynne on Feb 01, 2014
    i'm glad i read this post so much good house was built in 1925, and some of the walls that had to be gutted had lathe between two pieces of sheetrock secured with roofing nails, and some of the had to come out..all the advice was helpful to me too.
  • Diana Lafavor Diana Lafavor on Feb 02, 2014
    we placed sheet rock screw near each of the nail pops, setting them properly just below the surface. We the used a nail set to drive the original nails back in place and puttied all the resulting dimples. If you don't use screws the nails may just pop out again.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Feb 02, 2014
    This is what we did, we also make sure to hammer them back into the stud which left a dimple. We muddled it and sanded in-between the layer of mud. We let each layer dry and then sanded and worked up our layers. We also before hand screwed another screw to prevent it from popping out again.
  • Lucid Designs Lucid Designs on Nov 23, 2014
    If you live in an area that has seasons, where change in temp allows for expanding and contracting, your only option (if you don't ever want to deal with this again) is to dig out the nails and replace with screws. Mud, sand, repaint. I'm not sure why code in Florida (with barely any change in temp year round) is that every bit of drywall has to be screwed in, yet in many other areas code is simply screws around the outside of each piece and nails on the interior. I've never had drywall issues in Florida, yet can't get away from them elsewhere.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Nov 24, 2014
    My house is old and we have this problem all the time, I am going to follow the advice in here and carefully dig those nails out and replace them with a screw. Thanks!
  • Katie Webster Webster Katie Webster Webster on Nov 30, 2014
    hello @cottageatheart, I like your boards "Christmas crafts" and i would love to be added, could you send me invitation! This is email Thank's in advance!
  • Lori Lori on Jan 18, 2015
    Jeff, show all this to your wife and ask her to handle it.
  • Donna Marie Ledington Donna Marie Ledington on Jun 21, 2015
    You have to drive a screw in about an inch above and below the nail pop. If you don't the nail will pop back out again. When I painted for clients I would dig out the pop. Hammer the nail back in and then drive the screws. I would then fill all three dents at once. With orange peel walls there are texturing sprays you can buy to re-texture the wall.
  • Donna Marie Ledington Donna Marie Ledington on Jun 21, 2015
    Make sure that any time you use joint compound to fix a wall you apply a little primer over the fixed area before painting. If you don't use primer the area will develop what is called a 'flash' and will show through your paint (3 years working at Sherwin Williams)