Defects in Wallboard

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.

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 smooth.

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.