We have noticed in our new home (which was renovated quite poorly by the previous owner), that the drywall screws are visible. We can visibly see where every stud is.

Does this simply require sanding and painting? Or did they not drill them in enough?

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    > We can visibly see where every stud is. -- ha, I'd almost consider that a feature! – Bob Mar 12 '17 at 10:40

We call them "nail pops".

First, are you sure they are screws? Nails are common here. When the wood dries out, it shrinks and "squeezes" the tapered nail and it will back-out slightly causing the "nail pop". The only fix is to drive them in and re-tape, texture, and paint.

Second, we don't glue wallboard to the studs. So, often the wallboard stands "proud" of the wall (stands slightly away from the wall). This can be caused by the studs not being set in a straight line, the stud is slightly warped, etc. So, after the job is complete, someone will bump the wall causing the wallboard to bow (flex) in, but the nail does not move, thus the "nail pop". Again, the only fix is drive them in, tape, texture and paint.

When we use screws, we don't have these problems. The screws seem to suck the wallboard up tight to the framing and not "back-out".

  • these don't look like nail pops. Nail pops usually break the face of the surface. Your assertion that the problem the OP faces does not happen with screws does not stand up to reason or experience. – Edwin Mar 12 '17 at 16:38
  • I disagree. Screws don't back-out so there is no "nail (or screw) pops" with screws. Failure when screws are used is caused by a gap between the gypsum board and the stud. This gap occurs at time of installation or when the stud dries out. We use KD lumber so the lumber is actually growing (moving from 6% MC to 10% MC) rather than shrinking like green lumber (moving from 19% MC to 10% MC) as it dries out. By the way, the fix (which no one has addressed) should be to remove the blemish (bump) and then install a screw 1-2" above or below the failure (do not use the same hole). – Lee Sam Mar 12 '17 at 18:28
  • @Lee Sam why can't one remove the loose nail and use a new type drywall screw in the same hole? The screw will grip won't it? – Jim Stewart Mar 12 '17 at 22:16
  • Just as an experiment, I cut out a circular patch over a nail pop with an Exacto knife, pulled out the nail, drove a screw and then glued back the circular patch. I think paint will fill the edges or I may use spackle then prime and paint. If one had a lot of nail pops, admittedly this would be time consuming, but it does have the original texture on it. An ideal tool for removing patches would be a "cork borer" used in chemistry labs. I may get a set. – Jim Stewart Mar 12 '17 at 22:23
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    Hmmm...maybe, but I wouldn't trust the old nail / screw hole nor the edges of the gypsum board where the old nail / screw was located. (I would think the gypsum board has to be damaged at the nail hole.) I think the shape of screw is such that it needs the gypsum board paper to be intact for the new screw to hold best. – Lee Sam Mar 12 '17 at 22:48

It appears that the screws are screwed in far enough but the contractor did a poor job of taping and mudding.


This may be a case where the installer used screws that are slightly too long. Wooden studs expand when there is moisture in the air (summer) and contract when there is little moisture in the air (winter). If the drywall is glued to the studs, as is standard in modern practice, the stud will pull the drywall inward as it contracts, but the screw remains stationary. If the screw is even a little bit too long, the screw head will become be visible.

If your drywall is indeed glued to the studs, then you can simply remove the screws, patch, and repaint.

  • Perhaps this is a silly question, but are there not standard screws for drywall that would avoid this problem? Thanks very much for the answer, makes sense (especially since we just had a cold snap when we really started to notice it). – Shinobii Mar 12 '17 at 6:07
  • It depends on the application; how thick the drywall is, whether the drywall is on the wall or ceiling, etc. Drywall for the ceiling is usually 5/8" and requires a 1-3/8" screw, but drywall for walls is usually 1/2" and usually takes a 1-1/4" screw (but 1-1/8" would may be better). Your problem is so common, that many contractors will only put screws in temporarily until the glue dries and remove them before finishing. Only the screws on the perimeter of the drywall stayed installed in this case. – Edwin Mar 12 '17 at 6:14
  • BTW, when I say patch and repaint, you will need to fill the screw hole, sand, and repeat (maybe twice) before you paint, because drywall compound shrinks when it dries. – Edwin Mar 12 '17 at 6:19
  • How common is it to use adhesive to bond drywall to studs and to ceiling joists? It seems to me that this could pull the paper off the backside of the drywall. I have not heard of screws being used temporarily until adhesive sets. Would this be with some kind of special drywall in which the gypsum layer is well bonded internally? – Jim Stewart Mar 12 '17 at 12:38
  • @JimStewart It's very common. No special drywall. There is special adhesive, but not to address the problem that you have conjured. – Edwin Mar 12 '17 at 16:33

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