How to Fix Popped Drywall Nails and Screws

Find out how to fill screw holes in drywall with this step by step guide.

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Fix drywall nail and screw pops in four simple steps, using drywall screws and drywall compound.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • 1-1/4-in. drywall screws
  • Lightweight patching compound

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

How to fix nail holes and screw holes in drywall

Drive new screws

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Refasten the drywall with 1-1/4-in. drywall screws. Drive the screws until they are recessed but don’t break through the paper covering on the drywall. If you accidentally drive a screw too deep, add another screw alongside it.

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Step 2

Cut away loose material

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Cut out crushed or damaged drywall with a sharp utility knife. Bevel the cut and don’t leave any fuzzy bits of paper that would be hard to cover with the patching compound.

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Step 3

Secure old fasteners

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Bury drywall nails in the wood framing with a nail set. Back out and remove old screws.

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Step 4

Fill with patching compound

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Fill the damaged area and the holes left by the new screws with lightweight patching compound. Use a flexible putty knife to apply the compound and smooth it. Apply two or three coats, allowing each to dry completely before recoating.

Popped drywall nails and screws are common in old and new homes alike. It’s tempting to just pound the fastener back in and fill the divot. But this is a short-term solution. To permanently fix the problem, drive a new nail or screw to reattach the drywall to the framing and remove or bury the old fastener. Don’t be scared off by the extent of damage in the photos. This is an extreme case where the nail pop was made worse by an overzealous drywall installer. In situations like this, the crushed drywall must be removed before you fill the hole.

We used lightweight spackling compound to fill the damaged area. It dries quickly, doesn’t sag and is easy to sand. Expect to apply two or three coats to cover a hole this large. The drying time between coats will depend on how deep the hole is. Use a fine sanding sponge or 100-grit drywall sanding paper to sand the patch before priming and painting.

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