These bumps are hard to the touch, so I don’t think its water damage.

Another possibility is popped out nails, but I am not sure.

Any thoughts?enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 6
    A magnet can tell you if they are nails Dec 8, 2022 at 4:25
  • Seems like a lot of nails-- spaced very closely together for usual drywall methods.
    – spuck
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:30
  • @spuck, drywall (like most sheet goods) is fastened at closer intervals on edges.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:34
  • 4
    1) Yes. 2) No one measures intervals. It's done by eye and often from both corners, so some variance is completely expected. 3) There are no studs intended there. It's the top wall plate they were after.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:37
  • 2
    mrQWERTY, do report back what you find. Judging by the apparent age of your home, my money is on screws which missed the framing.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:44

5 Answers 5


Based on location, I suspect they are nails that have gradually worked their way out just a little bit, possibly painted over after that without banging them back in (which seems strange, but strange things are everywhere...).

  • 7
    Nail pops is the technical term for this.
    – Glen Yates
    Dec 8, 2022 at 16:45
  • 2
    More likely they missed the framing completely. Drywall nails really don't ever work out.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:21
  • 2
    I didn't upvote because of the implication that it's good practice to "bang them back in". If they are nail pops (for whatever reason). banging them back in is just a recipe for recurrence. They should be removed.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 19:33
  • 8
    I think there might be confusion about the meaning of "Drywall nails really don't ever work out." "to work out" can mean "to be successful", or in the case of fasteners, can mean "to gradually become unfastened." I think isherwood meant that "if they are nails, they probably missed the framing, because nails [that hit their target] rarely work themselves out of the material they're lodged in." and that ruskes read it as "drywall nails are rarely successful." I may be misreading, of course. Dec 8, 2022 at 21:35
  • 1
    Fair-ish point, but I was clearly keying off the usage in this answer.
    – isherwood
    Dec 9, 2022 at 13:38

Drywall should be mounted with screws for a reason. Yours are mounted with nails. Over time those nails came out far enough to lift the paint.

The best option would be to remove the nails and replace them with drywall screws, to stop from repeating the problem

  • 6
    Nonsense. Nails are just fine (if they hit framing, which these probably haven't). Drywall was installed for decades with nails, and for decades after that with nails just on the edges (to minimize blowout). They aren't inherently problematic.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:22
  • 4
    And the exact same thing happens with screws in the same situation.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:36
  • I agree with @isherwood - the core issue is that not enough plaster went over the top, and that has now dried out and therefore shrunk too thin to contain the head of the nail/screw.
    – MikeB
    Dec 9, 2022 at 8:58

There's nothing inherently wrong or problematic with drywall nails. Drywall was installed for decades with purpose-built ring-shank nails, and for decades after that with nails just on the edges. They're just fine if they hit framing. I suspect that yours didn't in those cases.

Screws are used today because they're faster. Self-feeding screw guns weren't available until the 90s or so.

Those popped for one of two reasons:

  1. The fasteners didn't hit framing. That's not uncommon. They aren't securely anchored and so they work loose.
  2. They weren't driven in tightly to begin with. Sometimes there's something behind the drywall creating a gap, and the fasteners are initially flush. Then the drywall shifts and the nails pop.

The right fix is usually to pull those or drive them deep, then add a few more (or screws) that actually hit the framing and refinish the drywall. However, doing so can damage the adjacent taped corner joint. You might be best off just pulling those and repairing the holes. New fasteners aren't really critical there.

  • If they didn't hit the framing, what is the force that causes them to work out over time?
    – spuck
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:29
  • 2
    The jiggle of the universe. Houses move. Often such nails are alongside the framing, so there's some drag there that exacerbates the problem.
    – isherwood
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:30
  • Can also be too short nails and a bit of a gap to the framing member, possibly with some shim piece in between - that seems to be especially prone to working the nails loose.
    – jpa
    Dec 8, 2022 at 18:01
  • 1
    @spuck Drywall and timber expand and contract at different rates as temperature and humidity change.
    – bta
    Dec 9, 2022 at 0:25
  • 1
    @isherwood, I didn't vote at all on your answer. And yes, I've seen people use nail guns on drywall. If you do a search for "nail gun drywall" or "Can you hang drywall with a nail gun" you'll find plenty of people who use nail guns on drywall and give advice on how to do it. Dec 9, 2022 at 16:29

leave the nails in place and shoot screws one inch or more away from the nail hole. hammering the nails in has weakened that spot and if you put a screw in the nail hole you'll have even bigger problems. Use a Dimpler tool in your drill so that you don't drive the screws in too far. The Dimpler is a cheap little screw driver bit that sets the screw to the perfect depth. Use 1 1/4" screws and of course use a variable speed drill. It looks like the ceiling is textured, so you can use Durham Rock Hard water putty to fill the nail holes. Set the nails even deeper using a punch with a flat end and then cover them up. Durhams is like plaster in that it hardens very fast. Do not leave blobs because it doesn't sand off like spackle, but it will really stay in place forever. You could use spackle also, but it is prone cracking and falling out of a hole that has paint in it.


No one fastens drywall with 6-8 fasteners in a two foot distance when there's no special reason.

Yet... here it is so.

Suggests normal fastening was (attempted, not successful, not paid attention to) done, but they did not hit framing, or only grazed it. Then they worked out causing an earlier version of this problem. Someone tapped them back in, maybe noticed they felt pathetic, maybe they didn't, but a couple new ones seemed like an idea.

And none of them are really in the framing.

Might be worth some extra effort this time so someone doesn't come back with a similar picture in a few years, with maybe a couple more fasteners popping.

Even if "some extra effort" is drilling teensy holes until framing is found and sized up/down-left/right and then well set fasteners placed. Of course, nice new tools using cell phones, or taking off a small but representative piece of drywall to literally see what's under there... these could be good too! The way some people work, let's say DIY'ers, not professionals, no, never professionals, there might not even BE framing under there.

A decent other likelihood is there's been SLOW, small in effect in the moment, but adds up over time, water damage, or insect damage, to that area of framing and it needs replaced. If this is so and this is the only resulting problem... at least for now... (sigh...), one might just remove the fasteners, fill, and re-paint. Decisions, decisions. That'd be horrible, but it's a real world, and solves THIS problem, today anyway.

It's a real world we must live in, but it would make me very ill at ease to not find out, if 't'were my house.

  • These are 'misses' and they didn't even pull them out, +1. You have to pull them out and then bang the ruffled paper into the hole, with the butt of the trowel, so it doesn't stick through the patch, and will sand flat w\o some paper sticking out.
    – Mazura
    Dec 10, 2022 at 21:31

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