How To Fix Nail Pops

Nail pops are most commonly caused by wood or drywall movement, and they usually appear within a year of construction.

The moisture in lumber used to build buildings is typically absorbed from humidity in the air when the material is stored in open-air warehouses. The studs may shift or twist somewhat after assembly as the wood dries.

Because of this, individual nails may move, and when a nail holding drywall moves, the joint compound that covers the nail loosens.

If the drywall compound comes loose and slides away, the result is a slight bulge on the wall surface or, in rare cases, a visible nail head.

nail pop on brown wall

Luckily, in our guide, you can learn all there is to fix nail issues caused by structural problems in your home. By the end, you know how to offer a more permanent fix, so you won’t be looking at an old nailhead longer than you need to. (Learn How To Get Nail Glue Off Skin)

How Do You Fix Nail Pops in Drywall?

The immediate problem can be solved by tapping the nail back down with a hammer, but the nail will most likely come out again.

A better method is to tap the nail back into the stud and then put two drywall screws, one about an inch above the nail and one about an inch below the nail, into the stud. The two drywall screws fasten the drywall panel to the stud.

Here’s a bit more on how to fix and prevent nail pops.

long screw

Use Long Screws

Short screws that barely penetrate the stud behind the drywall panel may eventually pull away, causing more pops on the wall surface. The rule of thumb is to use screws that penetrate the stud by at least 3/4 inches. For example, if your drywall is 1/2 inches thick, you’ll need new screws at least 1 1/4 inch long.

Add More Screws

The drywall panel might not be adequately secured to the studs if the installer did not use enough fasteners, resulting in movement and popped nails. Add screws where needed and carry on fixing the repair. (Learn How To Screw Into Concrete)

Fill Dents with Drywall Joint Compound

Drywall screws have trumpet-shaped heads that allow them to be inserted just beneath the drywall’s surface, but they will leave a slight indentation. Apply a small amount of joint compound to indentations—a quarter-sized glob should cover most nail and screw indentations.

Use a putty knife to apply, then smooth away any excess. Allow at least 24 hours for the compound to dry before using the putty knife to apply another thin coat of joint compound. After that has dried, use a drywall sanding sponge to sand over the compound, and then apply a fresh layer of paint.

Should You Fix Nail Pops?

Whether you have popped nails in your home’s walls, look up to see if similar bulges in the ceiling suggest a more serious issue.

When trusses lift, a nail pops in the ceiling drywall if the drywall is attached directly to the trusses.

Aside from popping nails, the truss movement may cause a horizontal fracture between the ceiling and the wall. A contractor should remove the old drywall panels and replace them with new ones fastened to clips or blocks, not the trusses.

Can You Hammer In a Nail Pop?

Modern drywall is fastened with drywall screws. We can’t pop the drywall screws. Not long drywall nails no longer firmly fastened in the two-by-four studs produce nail pops in the ceiling and walls.

The wood fibers lose their grip and can no longer grasp the smooth shank of the drywall nail. The nails protrude, delivering drywall compound and paint. The wood will not hold the shank if you pound the nails back in place. (Learn How To Polish Concrete Floors)

What You Need

  • Cordless drill
  • Latex gloves
  • Smooth head hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Drywall taping knife
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • 1 5/8-inch drywall screws
  • Joint compound


Fixing nail pops involves putting drywall screws (not nails) on both sides of the nail pop. The screws effectively replace the nail without the hassle of digging it out.

Because your repairs are unsettling the wallboard and causing it to shift, additional nail pops may appear along the stud you are working on or adjacent to it. A powerful light source directed at a low angle across the wall will also help locate protrusions.

hammer the nail

Hammer the Nail

Re-insert the old nail into the wall to the proper depth without harming the surrounding drywall.

Secure Your Nail

Two drywall screws, one on each side of the nail or screw, secure the drywall directly to the wooden studs. Drill a drywall screw into the wallboard, securing it to the stud beneath until the screw head folds the paper.

If in the previous stage you could not secure the drywall nail with a hammer or add a new nail, two drywall screws you drive in this step should hold the drywall securely to the stud.

Cover Your Dimple

Apply a thin layer of joint compound over the holes. Smooth the excess with a knife to match the wall. Don’t worry if the indentations remain evident as you let the compound dry.

Dry, Sand, and Prime

Dry the joint compound for 2–4 hours. Re-coat with joint compound. Re-paint the repair if it doesn’t match the surrounding wall.


Because the joint compound shrinks when dried, the final step could be filled with a third application. Lightly sand the area before you apply primer, and then paint your repair.

How Do You Fix Ceiling Pops?

Nail pops are those elevated regions that are ugly, but luckily, fixing a nail pop is a simple DIY project.

Here are the steps for fixing nail pops in your ceiling:

Materials Needed:

  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • 1 ¼-inch drywall screws
  • Utility knife
  • Nail set
  • Putty knife
  • Patching compound

Scrape Raised Area Of Ceiling or Damaged Drywall

Scrape the raised area over the nail pop with a utility knife. The nail head can sometimes pop out so far that the drywall cracks or loosens, leaving a larger raised area on your wall or ceiling.

Drill New Drywall Screws Around The Popped Nail

Drill two drywall screws into the stud where the popped nail is located. You can’t use a new nail as there won’t be a grip on the wood. The two screws will secure the drywall to the stud, helping the wood and drywall stay in place over time and preventing the nail from popping out.

Sizing Drywall Screws

A drywall screw that is too short won’t secure the drywall to the stud. The screw must penetrate the stud by at least 3/4 inch, so 1 1/4 inch drywall screws are used to repair nail pops.

Bury Old Drywall Nails

To hide the nail head, bury it into the stud. Use a nail set to do this (sometimes called a nail punch). It is used to drive a nail into the wood, so the head is below the surface.

Place the nail set tip on the nailhead. Hammer the other end until the popped nails nailhead is below the drywall surface. (Learn the Best Way To Cut Drywall)

Patch Damaged Area

Apply a layer of patching compound and smooth it out with a putty knife. Let the patching compound dry for 30 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the product.

Apply a second coat, smooth it out, and let it dry completely before you lightly sand over the patches. Then re-paint the wall or ceiling.

How To Fix Nail Pops (2)

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