Minor Drywall Problems
At work we warranty certain things on new homes for one year. By far the most common problem we see after a year are minor drywall problems. It’s not unusual at all during the first year or so of a new home to see and hear lots of minor drywall problems. In fact, I liken it to the “Snap, Crackle and Pop” theme from Rice Crispies!
As your new home dries out (framing lumber is always full of excess moisture) the framing members will shrink every so slightly causing stress and movement on drywall joints. The stresses are sufficient to cause some small cracks and “nail pops” at some of the screws. This is completely normal and expected with all new home construction. In fact, it’s so common that most house warranty programs only cover major cracks which are more likely related to structural performance.
Drywall Nail Pops
Drywall nail pops (or screw pops more likely) are by far the most common drywall problem or defect. I challenge you to find me a newly built home that doesn’t have quite a few of these nail pops after a year or so after construction is complete. Nail pops are going to happen and there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.
Fortunately they are very easy to fix and not likely to reoccur after they’ve been fixed. As you can see in the photo this nail pop has actually caused the joint compound to crack and fall away from the screw head. Sometimes the screw or nail head doesn’t pop through completely but you can still see the round head bulging out.
To fix a nail (screw) pop you’ll want to use a putty knife to scrape off the excess joint compound that’s creating the bulge. Once you’ve removed the bulging joint compound then check to be sure the screw is tight. I recommend you use a hand screw driver for this and NOT a screw gun. Once the screw is tight then apply new joint compound to the screw head hole. This may take two coats to completely cover the hole. Then just sand it smooth, prime and paint. If you don’t prime it first the paint has NO chance of matching.
Hairline Drywall Cracks
Another common drywall problem or defect are hairline cracks. In the photo you can see a hairline vertical crack in the drywall just below the window sill. This is one of the most common locations for hairline cracks to form (above the window is very common as well). Thermal stresses on the house are much higher at door and window openings for many reasons and this can cause hairline cracking of the drywall.
Just like the nail pops these hairline cracks are most likely to occur in the first year or so of the houses life. However, this is not something to lose sleep over and it’s extremely common in new construction. Again this is a very easy repair and one that any DIY veteran can handle.
Steps to repair hairline drywall cracks:
- Gouge out the crack with a utility knife to create a “V” groove, this makes room for additional joint compound. Be sure to clean out the groove and crack really well.
- Apply a layer of joint compound. Make sure to apply the mud 2 to 3 inches on either side of the crack.
- Apply a layer of paper or fiberglass joint tape.
- Use a wide putty knife (6″ minimum) to apply a 2nd layer of joint compound over the joint tape. Be sure to spread the joint compound on smooth and wife off any excess material. Let the joint compound dry.
- Apply another thin layer of joint compound over the tape and previous skim coat.
- Sand the patch smooth.
- Prime and paint.
Don’t Sweat the Drywall Problems
I hope you read this article and realize your house is not special. I hope you realize that drywall will “Snap, Crackle and Pop” and it’s perfectly normal. I also want you to realize that fixing those minor nail pops and cracks are easy to do and something that anyone with minimal DIY experience can handle. If you’re planning on painting a room anytime soon then that’s the best time to tackle these small repairs.