Saturday, 26 January 2013

Pop goes the screw hole.

Dear Joe,

I had a contractor remodel my basement a couple years ago. On the walls that he framed and drywalled there are several round holes where the screws have popped out.  It’s rather unsightly.  What causes this and is this something I can fix myself? Thanks for your advice; I enjoy reading your piece,

Regards, Terry

Hey Terry,

Thank you so much for your question.  This is a situation that anyone who has done any drywall at all has run into, happens to me all the time.  Its typically caused by a couple of simple missteps; either over sinking or under tightening the screws that hold the drywall on.  If the screws aren’t installed correctly, then if there is any movement in the panel then the screw head pushes out proud of the finished surface, likewise if you push against the panel while moving furniture or the like, you can rupture the paint finish and see these improperly installed screws.

Other causes of screw pops include undersized screws or nails (you want a minimum of 5/8” penetration of screws into framing lumber, and 7/8” penetration of nails), lumber shrinking and distorting causing screws to twist and either poke out or pull in causing a divot, or not properly filling the screw heads/not allowing drywall compound to dry out sufficiently before sanding (compound continues to lose moisture and shrink after sanding leaving a divot).

Is this something you can correct yourself, well, of course it is!!  It’s quite simple really.  First diagnose the problem: screw pop or divot?  Simply push in on the general vicinity of the offending fastener if it flexes and the damaged area appears to move, it’s a pop.  If nothing moves it’s a divot.  For a pop you will need to add at least one additional fastener within two inches of the damaged one.  Be sure it’s installed and countersunk properly and the drywall is pulled tight to the framing.  Remove or countersink the original fastener and fill the new depressions at least twice allowing the compound to dry thoroughly between applications, sand and paint.  For a divot its dead simple; apply one or two fillings of compound, then sand and paint.

If you are installing the drywall yourself you can prevent possible future screw pops by applying an inexpensive construction adhesive to the studs before you put the drywall up.  This allows you to use fewer fasteners whilst increasing the integrity of your drywall installation tenfold or more.  By bonding the drywall directly to the studs you prevent any possible movement thus eliminating the possibility of loosening fasteners, plus fewer fasteners means less work and fewer places to pop.

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