4 Common Drywall Issues and How to Repair Them

These tried-and-true methods will help you fix drywall issues like nail pops, dents, holes and cracks – all while ensuring a smooth surface.

By Diane Walsh

Drywall is the most common interior wall material in American homes. This means painting professionals can expect to encounter a few minor repair issues before they get down to priming and painting. Nail pops, dents, holes and cracks show up in homes of all ages. But have no fear. There are tried-and-true methods for repairing these four common drywall issues. These quick fixes will help you start with a smooth surface to deliver a flawless paint job.

drywall issues like nail (screw) pops show up behind even three coats of paint
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Nailed It

Nail pops have a variety of causes – from misaligned framing and improper drywall installation to large temperature fluctuations and just plain gravity. It’s important to repair these issues before you apply paint in order to get the best results possible.

If the nail head has worked loose and become visible, don’t just drive it back in. Instead, pull out the nail and replace it. The best and most permanent replacement is a drywall screw.

Once the screw is in, lightly sand the edges around the screw, then fill in the depression with drywall mud using a standard six-inch drywall blade. Let it dry completely, then lightly sand and add a second coat. When the second coat is dry, you’re ready to sand, prime and paint.

small dents require just a little mud
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Filling in Small Dents

Every home has its share of little dents and dings. The easiest solution for these shallow dents is a fast-drying one-coat application patch. Simply sand down any rough edges around the dent, then apply the lightweight patch with a small one-inch knife. It’s acceptable to leave the patch a little rough and just sand it when it dries in an hour.

If the surface is nice and even after one coat, you can move on with priming and painting. If not, apply another light coat of patch following the same steps you did for the first coat.

drywall issues like holes require a lot more mud and more time
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Patching Holes

Great strides have been made in the development of drywall patching solutions for small holes. One of the most efficient is a self-adhesive aluminum-reinforced patch – ideal for holes up to about two inches in diameter.

Once you have sanded any rough edges around the hole, simply peel off the backing and center the patch over the hole before pressing down to adhere. Then apply a heavy coat of drywall mud with a six-inch knife to fill in all the nooks and crannies in the mesh. The mesh will still be visible once you smooth out the first coat.

Allow it to dry fully – a good six hours – sand lightly and apply a second thin coat of mud. Repeat with a third coat and it should be all set to prime and paint.

cracks can keep on reappearing if you don't treat them right
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Sealing Cracks

As tempting as it may be to take the shortcut, you should never just fill in a crack with mud. It will just end up reappearing when the mud dries. Instead, use a self-adhesive fiberglass mesh tape. These tapes are strong yet thin, so they require less mud to complete the repair.

To do this effectively, cut a length of tape and affix it to the crack. With a large six-inch knife, apply a generous layer of mud, making sure to work it into the mesh. The mesh will still be visible once you smooth out the first coat. Allow it to dry fully (up to six hours) then sand lightly and apply the second coat of mud. Repeat with a third coat, do a final sanding, and then it’s time to prime and paint.

take care of problems BEFORE priming and painting
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Preparation is Key

Preparation is the most important part of any paint job, and while a smooth drywall surface won’t guarantee an easy ride for the rest of the job, it will go a long way toward ensuring a quality end product.

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The Author, Diane Walsh is Vice President of Market Development & Sales Operations for ShurTech Brands, LLC.

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