I’ve been noticing more and more mail pops throughout our home. Not sure if they are actually “ongoing” or I just notice them more. I see a lot like the picture below where the nail isn’t protruding out of the wall yet but you can see it bulging. Our home was built in 1938 and has had multiple additions. We live in an area with heavy freeze/thaw cycles. Exterior is mostly wood with large brick chimneys.. if that helps. In one room (newest addition - possibly late 60’s) is where there are the most. There are maybe 20 or so in the entire room with only one single “nail” able to be physically seen popping from the ceiling. There is an entire row of the wall that meets the ceiling where 5 or 6 have popped in a row. The rest of the home are scattered… maybe 2 or 3 near some windowsills or so (less than 15 or so in the rest of the house)

My question is… when do these become a problem and less cosmetic? Are there structural issues we need to be concerned about?

Thank you.

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  • Would you not worry then and just let them be? Why is it a given the home has structural issues?
    – user150636
    Apr 12, 2022 at 5:41
  • very few renovations are done up to the same structural engineering standard as the original build. Particularly if there are no permits or if you live in a smaller community where the building department inspector has beers with the contractors on the weekends. It’s very common and results in cut corners and poor quality Apr 12, 2022 at 5:45
  • 3
    Drywall pops are not indicative of structural issues. Drywall is not a structural material. Apr 12, 2022 at 7:35
  • @FreshCodemonger it certainly can be. Anyway nail pops aren’t usually as structurally significant as cracks. Apr 12, 2022 at 12:02
  • 1
    OTOH, @RibaldEddie sometimes renovations are done to modern code and are far superior to work done 100 years ago.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 12, 2022 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


If you want to safely eliminate all the bumps try this: use a dimpler bit on your screw gun to put a drywall screw about 2 inches from each nail head, in line with the stud. Be sure the screw heads are recessed properly. Then take a hammer and pound each nail head to make a small recess also. Scrape away any loose bits of old plaster, then apply drywall compound to all the double dimples. Sand, prime, and paint. Each screw secures the drywall and the old nails will stay in place.

  • 4
    "Then take a hammer and pound each nail head to make a small recess also." Why would you suggest the prolonging of this issue? If you're patching holes anyways then just remove the nails.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 12, 2022 at 12:53
  • 1
    Too much unnecessary work and bigger gouges to fill. With the screw pulling the drywall tight to the stud, the old nail is not going anywhere.
    – John Canon
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:39
  • 1
    You are aware of the root cause of nail pops, right?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 12, 2022 at 14:36

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