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The upstairs of my house was remodeled before I bought it. The whole house used to be plaster and lath but the upstairs is now drywall. The upstairs drywall has needed some minor repairs ever since I've moved in.

What I've noticed is that the majority of the blemishes that need to be repaired are nails. It is as though the nails are popping the joint compound off the walls and ceiling. Further, it looks like the drywall is actually held in with nails.

Is it common to attach drywall with nails?

Should I pull the nails and replace them with screws before fixing the blemishes?

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    This is super common because hammers are cheaper than screw guns for a crew of installers. The blemishes even have a common term - "nail pops". – JPhi1618 Apr 25 at 18:19
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    @JPhi1618 - If I ever saw a drywall crew use nails I would not only make them use screws but never think about hiring them again. We know that no matter what nails will pop after a 10-15 years, this isn't a matter of opinion. If drywall crew is cutting corners here who knows what else they do. – DMoore Apr 25 at 19:35
  • @DMoore, absolutely. Screws are the norm now - I should have stated it was very common in the past. I have a 90's house full of drywall nails and I hate it. – JPhi1618 Apr 25 at 19:37
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    This reminds of a builder we were about to hire. I always ask for a complete materials list. I saw a bunch of flat head nails... thought maybe roof. Confirmed drywall - lost the job.b – DMoore Apr 25 at 19:46
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    @Jasen - Not true. Most drywall is not installed with glue. Glue may be used in some specific applications but not in general. – Michael Karas Apr 26 at 4:43
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It is not common now, it once was.

At one time it was standard practice to use nails. It could be the the structure in the wall that the nail are into is not all that solid so the heads (Pop). I always notice a few popped heads after an earthquake here.

I do not think you need to pull them, Put a screw in next to each one and then gently hammer the nail back into place. The screw should keep the drywall from moving an thus the nail from popping out again. Then you can make your finishing repairs. Of coarse you could pull them if you want.

  • The renovation took place in 2008. Is that far enough back to have used nails? – vini_i Apr 25 at 18:28
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    Our house was built in 2002 and used nails. – BillDOe Apr 25 at 18:35
  • I've done renovations in 2017 and used ring shank or pitch coated nails because I am a lazy bastard and nails are faster and easier to judge depth on and I'm weak and can't keep a lot of weight on the back of the drill to drive the screws in properly, sometimes. They're also easier to remove when the next renovation comes around. Screws are fine too, of course. – Adonalsium Apr 25 at 18:58
  • @vini_i My house was flipped three years ago and they used nails... which are popping out and very noticeable now. A few have broken through the paint... – Zach Mierzejewski Apr 25 at 22:14
  • @vini_i if the reno work was done by a handy-person then they could be using older techniques. So yes even work done today could involve nailing drywall. – Criggie Apr 26 at 2:02
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It was common. Now most drywall is screwed, which leads to much fewer pops.

The usual fix is to screw between the popped nails (and a few more may pop as the board is pulled tight). Then pull and patch the popped nails.

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    Remember, screw guns have only been widely used since the 80s and even then it was hit and miss. – DMoore Apr 25 at 18:40
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    @DMoore - ;-))) – Hot Licks Apr 25 at 22:43

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