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Drywall Nail Pops

Drywall nail pops indicate that something is wrong with your home’s foundation, structure, or the wall itself. Detecting the signs helps you get ahead of the damage.

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Drywall nail pops are more than a simple cosmetic problem. They can indicate that something is wrong with your home’s structure. Before you look up DIY solutions for drywall nail pops, it’s important to understand where they come from and what signs to look for that point towards foundation damage. Otherwise, you may be dealing with costly repairs, since foundation problems can damage the entire house the more they advance. 

Drywall Nail Pops

What Are Drywall Nail Pops? 

When the drywall is installed in a home, the panels are nailed down to the ceiling and the wall studs. The line of nails that are driven in are in a horizontal or vertical line, usually in rows of five, though more can be used if the panel is bigger. The seams then are covered up with paper tape and a coating of compound. 

Drywall nail pops happen when the nails that attach the drywall to the wall studs pop out of the hole they were placed in and protrude through the drywall itself. 

What Do Drywall Nail Pops Look Like? 

Drywall nail pops are known simply for being holes in drywall. However, nail pops don’t all look the same. Depending on the quality of the materials, their age, and the cause of the nail pops, they can appear in different forms. Knowing what these look like will give you information on the state of your house and whether it is structurally sound. 

They will also help you detect any problems early, helping you prevent further damage. Not only will acting at the first sign of a nail pop help you prevent even more nail pops on your wall, but it will also help you catch foundation failure early too. Annual maintenance can allow an expert to rectify these small problems long before they become costly repairs. 


As the nail is popping out of the wall stud and through the drywall itself, it may form a circular bump on the wall. This is the first stage of nail pops, and unfortunately, the stage that goes largely undetected. The wall still looks relatively the same, and the bump barely can be detected unless it catches the light in a way that reveals the minor protrusion. 

If you notice a single drywall nail pop, it may be a good idea to go over the rest of the walls in your house with a flashlight to spot any other nails that might pop. Catching multiple of these will confirm that the single nail pop wasn’t an isolated incident and that you are dealing with a structural problem that needs to be addressed. 


Depending on the age of the drywall, the cause of the popping, and the quality of the paint used for the wall, a crack might appear instead of a bump or hole. This part of the popping also usually goes unnoticed because the cracks tend to be small. Cracks may not always be associated with nail pops, so when seeing a crack along your wall, always check to see if there are other problem signs around your home. 

Flaking Drywall Paint 

At this point in the nail popping stage, homeowners will have noticed the damage because it is more obvious. The nail will have successfully popped through the drywall, enough to have caused the paint to flake off. The nail itself is not visible, and the damage has no identifiable shape at this point, but there is a small tear or crack along the wall. Sometimes, a bubble will form around the tear that indicates how much the nail pulled at the drywall paint before a section broke and started flaking off. 


When thinking of drywall nail pops, the holes are what many think about. At this point, the paint has been flaked off completely, and you can see the exposed head of the offending nail. The holes are not perfectly smooth as they have jagged edges, and they are usually the size of normal drywall nails. One or two holes are normal to see in many homes, but an entire row of nail pops means that you must act fast. 

Once this happens, you shouldn’t try to patch up the hole without consulting an expert to check for foundation damage. Don’t attempt to screw the nail back into place either because the stud may be damaged as well. If it is, then the nail will loosen up anyway. 

Ceiling Nail Pops 

Besides checking for trouble along your wall, you should also check along your ceiling too. Drywall ceiling nails are just as likely to pop as the ones on the wall. Unfortunately, ceiling nail pops tend to go unnoticed in certain areas of your home. Nail pops in bedroom and living room ceilings might be more noticeable, but it all really comes down to how much time you spend in the room where it’s happening. The same signs will appear on the ceiling, so make sure to look up when noticing problems on your walls. 

What Causes Drywall Nail Pops? 

Drywall nail pops can be caused by several different things. Depending on the number of nails that pop and how far along the damage is, they can say a lot about the state of your home. Of course, there is little you can gather from a few holes on the wall. They indicate that something is wrong, but don’t really tell you what. 

When dealing with drywall nail pops, you should always take it as a sign to thoroughly inspect your home and then call a foundation expert for a professional opinion and guidance on what the best course of action should be. 

Foundation Settling 

Foundation settling occurs when the soil underneath your home is too uneven to support your home properly. Originally, contractors lay down an even layer of soil, compact it to make it dense, and then build the foundation on top of that layer so the house can be stable. However, soil erosion causes the layer to loosen up and form gaps under the foundation. 

In Charlotte, NC, soil erodes because of the shrinking and swelling of the soil. Cecil soil, the soil series that spans the Piedmont region of North Carolina, has a clay-filled subsoil. When exposed to water, the soil expands and loosens up. When all the water content is gone, the soil shrinks and compacts but loses a lot of its volume. This cycle of shrinking and swelling is something all clay soils go through, especially in rainy cities like Charlotte. 

Besides shrinking and swelling, the soil also erodes during the winter because of the freeze-thaw cycle. When water turns into ice, it expands by about 9%, and as it does so, it exerts pressure on the surrounding soil. This pressure displaces the soil particles and slowly creates gaps over time, as well as exerts upwards and lateral pressure on the foundation. 

When the foundation settles, the house sinks to the side. This causes the weight of the house to be distributed unevenly and shifts a lot of the home’s weight to one side of the house. The pressure from all this extra weight can bend the wall studs to the point where they cause the nails to pop out. 

Poor Drywall Materials and Installation 

The least serious of causes is simply poor construction materials and installation. If the nails were drilled incorrectly (either too loose or too deep), then they can pop out at any time. However, you should never assume that the nail pops you see on your walls or ceilings are just cosmetic problems caused by poor installations. When it comes to your foundation’s health, you never want to take that gamble. 

Contact our foundation experts for an inspection, and if it’s just a cosmetic issue, you can relax and focus on replacing the nails and patching up the holes. If it is a foundation problem, however, then you will have saved yourself thousands of dollars in repairs by catching the problem early. 

What Happens If I Don’t Repair Drywall Nail Pops? 

A nail pop or two might not be cause for concern for many because it could just be a simple installation error. If it isn’t, however, then your home could suffer terrible foundation damage. Drywall nail pops can be a sign of foundation failure, and as the problem advances it can cause structural damage that is commonly associated with foundation deterioration, such as: 

  • Uneven floors 
  • Broken floorboards and tiles 
  • Cracked walls and ceilings 
  • Cracked bricks and concrete blocks 
  • Sticking doors and windows 
  • Basement flooding 
  • Mold growth 
  • Foundation leaks 
  • Tilting chimney 
  • Detached porch and deck 

All these problems appear as your foundation starts to break down, and the repairs needed to correct these issues only get more expensive as more damage arises. Before things get to that point, it’s important to reach out to an expert for an inspection. 

Drywall Nail Pops


Because drywall nail pops are usually a structural problem, you might be wondering if you’ll need to replace your drywall for the problem to be fixed. Despite how ugly nail pops may be, replacing the entire wall may not be the best way to go about doing things. 


Before you go on to replace your drywall, think about why the nails are popping in the first place. If it’s a foundation problem, then you it would be best to get that issue resolved first before thinking about replacing your drywall. Drywall replacement can be anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 depending on how big your house is and how much drywall you mean to replace. 

By not addressing the problem first, you’ll be spending thousands of dollars on a new wall that will eventually display the same issues later. Before you think about replacing, you should speak to an expert first to determine what the best course of action is. 


Repairing drywall with nail pops can be done no matter how many nail pops there are. It’s relatively easy to replace the nail and then cover up the holes, although you might want to hire a professional if your wall is covered with an excessive number of holes. You’ll want to make sure that all the nails are in place properly, and it can be difficult to make sure of that because of how small the holes can be. 

In the case of nail pops due to poor materials, hiring a professional is immensely helpful. They’ll be able to tell you which bad materials caused the nail pops and will provide your drywall with better materials. A professional also will be able to tell you what needs to be repaired first before the drywall is even looked at. If there are any foundation problems, then those need to be addressed before the wall is. 

If your drywall problems are caused by foundation issues, then there are multiple ways to go about fixing them. Usually, foundation problems are caused by settling.  A settling foundation can be stopped with the right solutions, and, luckily, DryPro has the right ones for homeowners in Charlotte, NC. 

Helical Piers  

Helical piers are made of solid, galvanized steel. They have helix blades attached to one end of the shaft, which helps installers drive them deep into the ground until they reach load-bearing soil. Foundations settle because the soil underneath the house is no longer stable, which is what causes the house to settle and tilt against the uneven soil layer. Because the house shifts, the nails in the drywall pop out. 

To rectify this issue, the house needs to rely on something more stable than the uneven soil that causes the settling in the first place. Deep underground, load-bearing soil layers reside. These soil layers are capable of supporting the weight of the house without shifting. The helical piers transfer the weight of the house to the stable soils and permanently stabilize the house. Once stabilized, the weight of the house is distributed correctly, so the drywall nails will no longer have a reason to pop out. 

Push Piers 

Push piers are similar to helical piers except they are hollow and don’t have any blades. Instead of being driven into the ground like a screw, they are hydraulically pushed in until reaching the necessary soil depths. They also help support the house and transfer its weight to the load-bearing soils below. Like helical piers, they are a permanent solution to foundation settling, meaning that you won’t have to worry about drywall nail pops after the piers are installed.  

Push piers rely on the weight of the house to act as a counterbalance so that the piers can stay in place, which is why they are more suitable for larger, heavier homes. Lighter homes aren’t heavy enough to keep the push piers in the ground, in which case helical piers should be used instead. Because push pies have to carry such heavy loads, our push piers come with a specially designed external sleeve that prevents bending below the bracket. This design makes our push piers more reliable than commercial-grade push piers. 

If you’ve noticed a single drywall nail pop, then you might not think too much of it, especially if it isn’t very visible. Once you start noticing more, however, you might wonder if it’s something you should worry about. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if it’s a single nail pop or multiple; at the first sign of one, you should take action. 

When to Worry 

A sudden nail pop on your drywall is something you should always worry about because of what it implies. While it is true that drywall nail pops can appear thanks to poor materials or installation, you never really want to take a chance with your home’s structural integrity. 

Because there’s always the possibility that your foundation could be settling, you don’t want to wait on getting that inspection to make sure that your foundation is stable. Doing so can cost you thousands in repairs. Dry Pro offers free inspections, so you won’t be losing anything by doing so. 

Why You Shouldn’t Wait 

Even if there are only a handful of nail pops, there’s still a chance for things to get worse quickly. Charlotte’s soil erodes rapidly due to the amount of clay the subsoil contains. The erosion is especially bad during the summer when rainfall is constant and the exposure to moisture is high. 

Given how quickly soil erodes and how much a foundation can settle, the handful of nail pops on your drywall can turn into an excessive number of holes. While it is true that the holes can be patched up, you don’t want to wait for it to get that far, especially because it’ll cost you more time and money the more holes you need to cover up. 

Call Dry Pro for Foundation Repairs 

Noticing drywall nail pops? At the first sign of one, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance with your foundation. Dry Pro has you covered! We’ve been proudly serving Charlotte, NC, since 1999, and we offer multiple solutions for all kinds of foundation problems. Your home is just as important to us as it is to you, so you can trust us to make your home look and function like new. Contact us today to schedule your free foundation inspection and repair quote

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