Find out how to fix nail pops so they don't happen again. One solution is to remove the nails all the way and replace them with drywall screws, which never pull out. You can also put another drywall nail next to them and try to overlap the heads so that the new nail helps hold the old nail in place.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to take a call from Ben in Delaware who listens to us on WDEL.
Ben, how can we help you?
BEN: Well I have a house that was built in the mid-1950s and in the house there are certain rooms where the nails are starting to back out of the walls . And I don’t know how to fix this without taking a hammer and going around and banging all the nails back in and then plastering over it and repainting, sanding, and all that mess. But to me, it’s just about what I’m up against. Can you help me with this?
TOM: Well you are up against those steps but there’s one important one you didn’t mention and that’s how to make sure they don’t pop out again.
LESLIE: Why are they popping out in the first place?
TOM: Well what happens is wood expands and contracts over years.
LESLIE: So it’s pushing it out.
TOM: Pushes out. That’s right. And it’s called a nail pop  because it usually brings a little piece of spackle with it. And they are kind of annoying. And when you paint a room, you usually have to go through and fix a handful of them on any kind of paint job. But here’s what you need to do. There’s two ways to fix them. You can either remove them all the way and replace them with a drywall screw , which is always a good idea because screws never pull out. Or if they’re not quite out all the way or they’re hard to pull, you can put another drywall nail next to them and try to overlap the heads so that the new nail kind of helps hold the old nail in place.
LESLIE: It’ll pull it flush.
TOM: Yeah. And because you’re putting it into a new hole, they work really well that way. So you are going to have to repair them but if you take one of those two steps, you won’t have to repair them a second time. OK, Ben?
LESLIE: Now Tom, is a good tip, when you’re putting in a drywall screw, to tighten it and then back it out and retighten it so it really sucks it tight to the 2x4 behind it?
TOM: No. Well you don’t have to do that and I’ll tell you why. Because there’s not going to be any – it’s not going to grab the drywall. Sometimes you do that if you’re using like a piece of wood and it sort of will hold it away because the teeth are grabbed to the piece of wood as well as to the stud, like paneling or something like that. With drywall, you should be able just to put it right in.
But there is one important thing and that’s don’t go too far. Because if you pierce the paper surface of the drywall, it becomes a lot harder to fix it. So don’t go in too far. Just go in just enough to suck that in, have a little bit of a dimple there, and then spackle that and paint it.
BEN: Yeah, some of them have backed out almost the thickness of the head of the nail.
TOM: Yeah. If you can get them out, pull them out all the way and replace them with a drywall screw. That’s the best thing. OK, Ben?
BEN: If that’s what it’s going to take, then that’s what it’s going to take.
TOM: That’s what it’s going to take. Thanks so much for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.