Repair Drywall Screw Pops (A Simple Guide for a Quick Fix)

You might be moving into a new house, and notice a drywall screw pop on the wall. Or, the old house you’ve lived in for 40 years might have a fresh screw pop you’ve just noticed last week.

It’s no time to panic. Drywall screw pops can be easily repaired, but first, it’s important to understand why they occur.

What Causes a Drywall Screw Pop?

There are several reasons drywall screws pop. Or a combination of factors will contribute to a sudden and unexpected blemish on your wall. Drywall screw pops are usually not serious problems, and they can fixed with ease.

But why do screws pop through drywall?

  • Using incorrect length drywall screws.
  • Drywall screws or fasteners are driven too deep.
  • Not using enough screws or fasteners in the wallboard.
  • House or building foundation settling.
  • Studs drying out from high moisture content or humidity.
  • Drywall or sheetrock drying out from moisture or humidity.
  • Drywall screws or nails are improperly spaced.
  • Drywall screws or nails driven in at an angle rather than straight.
drywall screw nail pop
Exhibit A: The Drywall Screw Pop

Are Drywall Screw Pops Dangerous? Should I Be Concerned?

Usually, old age is to blame for drywall screw pops. Over the years, buildings shift slightly, expand and contract, heat, and cool.

All of these slight changes in temperature and humidity cause wood to shrink and expand ever so slightly. Building foundations also tend to settle, shift, and move over many years.

Drywall nails and screws can pop out with even the slightest movement.

Unless dozens of screw heads and nail pops are appearing suddenly all over your walls and ceiling, screw pops are nothing to be concerned about.

They can be easily fixed in just a few minutes, and with only a few dollars worth of tools, fasteners, and supplies.

Drywall Nail Pops

Are screw and nail pops common? They can occur in new homes as well as older homes.

Nail pops are most common in older homes. Back in the ‘old days’, drywall was fastened with hammers and nails rather than power drills and drywall screws.

Wood Studs Expand and Contract

Drywall nails tend to give way, and loosen in wood studs. Wood framing expands and shrinks, or contracts as hot temperatures change to cold temperatures. Over several seasons and years, drywall nail pops can easily occur.

Wood studs lose their grip on drywall nails over time, causing nails to push through the smoothly painted surface of a wall.

Completely Remove the Drywall Fastener

You can’t simply pound the nail back in with a hammer. The damage has been done. The best way to fix a nail pop is to completely remove the nail or fastener.

It might seem like you’re making unnecessary mess by destroying the drywall surrounding a nail pop, but in the long run, it’s the only way to properly the problem.

drywall nail pop repair
Screw pops are easy to fix, as long as you don’t mind a tiny mess.

How to Repair Drywall Screw Pops

It can be disappointing to notice a fresh drywall screw pop on your wall or ceiling. Is my entire house shifting and busting loose? Probably not.

A drywall screw and nail pop is usually nothing to panic over. And you can easily tackle the drywall repair on your own. It’s one of the easiest DIY projects you will find.

If you know a few basic tips, drywall screw and nail pops are easily repairable within just a few minutes.

Here are a few tools you’ll need before you begin repairs –

  • Drywall screw fasteners
  • Safety glasses
  • Cordless drill, screw gun, or screwdriver
  • Smooth head hammer
  • 6” or 4” drywall taping knife, or putty knife
  • Drywall joint compound or spackle
  • Utility knife or drywall knife
  • Fine grit sandpaper

Simple Steps to Repair Drywall Screw Pops

Now that you’re ready to begin. You’re just a few simple steps away from a smooth wall –

  • Cut the drywall around the surrounding area of the screw hole, nail, or screw pop.
  • Pound the nail gently back into the wood stud, or remove the nail if possible.
  • If it’s a screw pop, reverse the screw out of the wall with a cordless drill.
  • Add a new drywall screw above and below the screw pop, directly into the center of the stud.
  • Smooth joint compound over the entire damaged area. Allow drying time for the drywall mud. A second coat of drywall compound may be necessary because of shrinkage.
  • Sand the area lightly and prepare for new paint. One more home improvement project is nearly complete.

How to Prevent Drywall Screw Pops

For anyone hanging new drywall, there are a few simple rules to follow for future drywall screw pop prevention.

  • Be sure you are driving in drywall screws to a proper screw depth. The head of the screw should rest just slightly below the drywall surface, without breaking through the drywall paper.
  • Don’t use too many screws. Too many drywall screws won’t help strengthen your wall, and it won’t prevent screw pops. Use the recommended screw spacing required for the wall assemblyno more, and no less.
  • Pay attention to moisture and humidity. You want to be fastening drywall at typical temperature and humidity levels. When the drywall panel is installed on wood that has soaked up moisture, the wood slowly dries out after the drywall is hung. There will be slight movement in the stud. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new screw or old, it could pop.
drywall nail pop repair
The dreaded drywall screw pop. Have no fear! It’s usually an easy fix.

Drywall Screw Pops in the Ceiling

Fixing drywall screw pops in the ceiling is basically the same process as on the walls.

One thing to keep in mind is to add drywall fasteners on each side of the screw pop and be sure they are securing the drywall tight to the roof truss, or soffit framing.

If you have textured ceilings, there will be an extra step involved with matching the texture. But by keeping the repair area as small as possible, you’ll have less texture to match.

Not a professional drywall contractor or expert taper? Don’t fear, with a little information, even beginner DIYers, and the newest homeowners can take on a ceiling screw pop repair of almost any kind.

Get Rid of Screw Pops For Good

A few tips during construction will prevent drywall screw pops from ever occurring –

  • Use kiln-dried lumber framing material. Most quality lumber yards follow this procedure, but it’s a good reminder to ask if the lumber has been properly dried.
  • Be sure drywall installation occurs during proper levels of humidity. Even gypsum drywall will absorb moisture. When it slowly dries out, contraction will occur.
  • There are certain types of drywall that can resist moisture better than others. Discuss your product options for the best results.
Want to see screw pop repair in action? The ‘Vancouver Carpenter’ has you covered.

Are Your Drywall Screws Showing Through Paint?

Just in case your not sure how to detect a drywall screw pop, Here’s a few more tips. Do you see bumps in your wallboard, especially in certain high natural light areas? Most likely, those bumps are screw or nail pops ready to poke through the wall.

It can be a simple job to repair a few nail pops. Remove the screw, add spackling compound, a little light sanding, and touch up painting. That’s it. With a little experience and practice with the application of drywall mud, you’ll be ready to tackle any drywall pop.

Additional Resources –

Current Drywall Repair Pricing – Amazon

Current Drywall Repair Pricing – Home Depot

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