How to Repair Four Common Drywall Issues

Learn tried-and-true methods for flawlessly fixing nail pops, dents, holes and cracks and ensuring a smooth surface.

Drywall is the most common interior wall material in American homes. Which means in most residential repaint jobs, you can expect to encounter a few minor repair issues before you get down to painting. Nail pops, dents, holes and cracks show up in homes of all ages. Here we’ll outline proven methods for repairing these four common drywall issues so you can start with a smooth surface for a flawless paint job.

Nail pops have a variety of causes, from misaligned framing and improper drywall installation to large temperature fluctuations and just plain gravity. It’s important to repair these issues before you apply paint in order to get the best results possible.

If the nail head has worked loose and become visible, don’t just drive it back in - pull out the nail and replace it. The best and most permanent replacement is a drywall screw.

Once the screw is in, lightly sand the edges around the screw, then fill in the depression with drywall mud using a standard six-inch drywall blade. Let it dry completely, then lightly sand and add a second coat. When the second coat is dry, you’re ready to sand, prime and paint.

Filling In Small Dents

Every home has its share of little dents and dings. The easiest solution for these shallow dents is a fast-drying one-coat application patch. Again, sand down any rough edges around the dent, then apply the lightweight patch with a small one-inch knife. It’s OK to leave the patch a little rough and just sand it when it dries in an hour.

If the surface is nice and even after one coat, you can move on with priming and painting. If not, apply another light coat of patch following the same steps you did for the first coat.

Patching Holes

Great strides have been made in the development of drywall patching solutions for small holes. One of the most efficient is the self-adhesive aluminum-reinforced patch, which is ideal for holes up to about two inches in diameter.

Once you have sanded any rough edges around the hole, simply peel of the backing and center the patch over the hole before pressing down to adhere. Then apply a heavy coat of drywall mud with a six-inch knife to fill in all the nooks and crannies in the mesh. The mesh will still be visible once you smooth out the first coat. Allow it to dry fully – a good six hours, sand lightly and apply a second thin coat of mud. Repeat with a third coat and it should be all set to prime and paint.

Sealing Cracks

As tempting as it may be to take the shortcut, you should never just fill a crack in with mud. It will just reappear when the mud dries. Instead, use a self-adhesive fiberglass mesh tape. These tapes are strong yet thin, so they require less mud to complete the repair.

Cut a length of tape and affix it to the crack. With the large six-inch knife, apply a generous layer of mud, once again making sure to work it into the mesh. The mesh will still be visible once you smooth out the first coat. Allow it to dry fully (up to six hours) then sand lightly and apply the second coat of mud. Repeat with a third coat, do a final sanding, and then it’s time to prime and paint.

Smooth surfaces are a key part of prep

Preparation is the most important part of any paint job, and while a smooth drywall surface won’t guarantee smooth sailing for the rest of the job, it will go a long way toward ensuring a quality end product.