Problem: Nails pop out of wall
board, or unsightly cracks develop.
Background: Poor materials or original construction
technique, changes in temperature, and other problems can
cause nail pops or cracks. Cracks often occur in newly
constructed homes as the home settles. Some cracks can be
annoyingly persistent; however, first try to fix them
using the tips below. If that doesn’t work, check with sup
pliers for special products such as fiberglass tape
designed for hard- to-fix cracks. For tips on handling
holes in gypsum board walls or ceilings, see
in Wallboard. For fixing holes in plaster, see
or Crack in Plaster.
What to do: To fix popped nail heads, first
reinforce the area with additional fasteners (nails or
screws), driving them about 1 inch to 1½ inches above and
below the popped heads. Push the wallboard toward the stud
or rafter as you drive the nail in. If using nails, drive
slightly into the surface to form a dimple that holds new
patching material. Let patching dry overnight and reapply
if shrinkage occurs. When patch is completely dry, sand
lightly and finish.
To fix narrow cracks, use a stiff brush or screwdriver to remove
loose material from the crack. Bend the point of a can
opener or similar object into a hook and use it to en
large and undercut the crack opening so it will provide a
secure hold for the patching compound. (Dampen edges of
crack when using patching compound mixed with water.) Fill
deep cracks almost to the surface with compound. Let dry,
then add another thin coat. Smoothen it on each side by
feathering it about 2 inches. Let it dry and sand it
Special advice: Deep, wide cracks stay patched
longer when reinforced with joint tape. Use perforated
drywall tape and patching com pound. Sand 6 inches on each
side of the crack and work the patching material down into
the crack. Then center the tape over the crack, pressing
it down with a wide drywall knife. Cover the tape with a
coat of the material, smoothing it well beyond the tape
edges by feathering. Let the patch dry overnight, then
apply an other coat extending 1 inch to 1½ inches beyond
the edges of last coat. Smooth, let dry, and lightly sand.
Helpful hint: To make
the patch’s edges even with the surface of the wallboard,
use feathering strokes when applying patching compound.
Make small, successive overlapping X-like strokes across
the area, working from the top of the patch to the bottom.
Start and end each stroke on an area of clean wall outside
of the patch area.