Different nail pop situation

I understand how shrinking framing can pop nails in a ceiling as the home settles, but it makes less sense in a wall, since there’s no pressure to push drywall outward after framing has shrunk away from it.


Anything short of a wild guess would be a waste of thinking…I would tell someone it happens often in most buildings, fix the minor cosmetic items and move on…:smiley:

It’s like trying to explain why my wife does the things she does.

Sometimes stuff just happens and the reason will remian unknown throughout time, especially to us guys. :mrgreen:

The paper is the thing that holds the drywall once the paper is compromised/damaged all hell breaks loose.

Perhaps this will help with the reason why nails pop on walls. As for the reason why women do what they do :roll:


Having hung a lotta board in my time, I agree with Barry regarding the paper on the board. Most tapers wont put tape on nail/screw damaged paper, they just coat it and move on.
However, there is another reason or cause that most people dont think of unless they have actually seen it. 9 times out of 10, your subtrades are paid on a piecework basis, so it’s move fast or lose. Too many times, I have seen the vapor barrier either bunched up at the top plates or not stapled properly, creating a curl or air pocket. When the drywall is nailed or screwed, it is held back from the plates resulting in it being affixed improperly. Over time, with settlement and shrinkage, the drywall breaks free from the nail/screw creating your “pop”
Hope this helps.

Well, I just looked at them… shrugged, told them about shrinking framing, told 'em I didn’t know and didn’t think it amounted to much… and moved on. I posted it mostly out of curiosity. No one is going to lean against the wall way up near the ceiling, so IT’S A MYSTERY TO ME. And I think it’s going to stay that way. Maybe it’s the Nail Pop Dupees.

Guess you never attended a Texas vs. OU weekend.

They’re tame now but back in the day they were some real “Braincell Burners”

Suddenly dawned on me why I became an inspector. :mrgreen:

Nail pops

Framing shrinkage
Framing deflection (unusual geometries; loads etc)
Truss uplift or movement
Foundation movement
Wind loads
Temperature variations

Two story home; 2 car garage; media room above; all big open spans and a vaulted ceiling in the media room. Faces hot southwest.

We had a 70 MPH wind come through last spring. That will move the entire home; add in shrinkage if the home is new; deflection; temperature variations. Nail pops.

I look for associated movements. I always document and tag as repair even if its minor.

“Nail pops seen in media room; unable to assess cause. Other movement indications not seen. Nail pops are common. Repair as desired or consult engineer to determine cause.” OR

“Nail pops seen in media room; unable to assess cause. Separation of brick from window at west media room; freize board sepration at corner of media room. Consult engineer to determine cause and if repair is needed.”

We would always glue and screw our dry wall and never used nails accept on corner beads. Never any nail pop complaints.
Our studs and joists were nice and straight and we never used trusses. We also were a custom builder and were paid very well to take our time and do a good job. Which is lacking today, even in the so called custom homes.

Only a handful of times have I seen nail pops being caused by structural issues and usually chalk them up to cosmetic issues. Although poor ventilation is one major cause of these nail pops, depending on your climate.
Lots of vaulted ceilings with poor ventilation around here.

I had a 1YW inspection where I counted at least 60 nail pops in the master bedroom alone. I have never seen so many nail pops in a home. The basement slab floor was significantly cracked & displaced around the column footings. Found out the builder had to bring in 5-6" rock for the base of the slab floor because the area is located in a wetland area. Needless to say the home has become a structural nightmare. One rare case where the damage in the form of nail pops and cracking of the joints proved to be a structural issue.
I inspected the homes on either side of this one and by the time the neighbors were done talking I think I did just about 10 homes on this one block. All had pretty bad nail pops but with no evidence of problems with the foundations. Hmmm cosmetic or not? I told them all to have there home evaluated further by a geological engineer. Defiantly somethings up with the ground here.
As a side note a local nahi inspector lives in this subdivision and does all of there pre-inspections for them. Found nothing wrong with the homes including the un-glued main waste line coupler in the basement, all you needed to do was flush one toilet and go into the basement to find the water on the floor it was one of those no-brainers.

Still waiting for this one to go to court.

Another place I’ve seen real nail-pop problems is in homes with brick cladding, no ventilation of the air space between brick and framing and an air-conditioning system.
During the summer the brick absorbs a lot of water during a storm, the storm passes, it gets hot out and the occupant turns on the air-conditioning and the damp brick dries to the inside due to the temperature gradient (moisture moves from warm to cold). A few days of this and moisture levels in the drywall are high enough to pop nails.

I realize this is an old thread but thought I’d add to it, as I’m still puzzled. I’m trying to understand nail pops in the ceiling at the wall/ceiling intersection of interior walls. I understand how a nail pop on a wall can be the result of the studs shrinking, creating a gap between them and the drywall, and then when someone presses on the drywall it pushes it in towards the studs, popping the nails.
What I don’t understand is here, in my photos, the nail pops are in the ceiling. They are not inverted, the nail head is coming down and out of the drywall (all over this house-2nd floor with attic above) or of course the drywall ceiling is being pulled up.

I’ve read many posts and threads to try to not repeat what others have said, but I’m still stuck on these ceiling nail pops. Surely no one is applying pressure to the ceiling like someone might do to a wall to create the nail pop.
Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.


They may have known that the ceiling was being textured. Did not recess the nails did not compound over the nails and the paint did not stick to the nails. If there is a room above walking or kids jumping up & down could contribute to the problem.

Truss lift. What time of year were the pics taken? If recently, is there a quick change of temp in your area?

Thanks guys,
They were taken last week, 2 year old home, attic directly above(definetely no one walking above). I posted some of the attic pictures under Structure a couple days ago. I’m not sure when these nail pops first started appearing though. Home owners “don’t know”… The nail pops are both in textured and plain drywall ceiling areas, but consistent with location of ceiling/wall intersection, always on the ceiling side.

This might be far fetched, but could the weight of snow accumulation put excessive pressure on the roof, pushing down the structure and thus pushing the nails through, during winter? Last year we had an unusually high amount of snow. The roof has lots of valleys and areas where I think snow could accumulate. Just an idea.
Thanks again,


Well, maybe I can confuse the issue hear or help, one of the other.

Understanding Nail Pops in Drywall

For those that think this is all above and beyond the SOP, they are correct.

I put this together to get a better understanding on the subject in conjunction with all other opinions.

This is where we all learn and I love it.

With the knowledge learned on this Board, one can go out on an inspection and feel the vibrations of the education knowledge shared by so many. Understanding why, sometimes helps one’s understanding of what the problem may be. The final report may read “needs repair or replacement”, but at least I know what caused it or contributed to the problem.

To understand this concept of nail pops, one would have to ask himself, is the problem with the head of the nail/screw popping out or is it recessed and looks like an inverted pop? That is the question.

The Residential Housing Market built, utilizes more than not a drywall interior sheathing of ½” in thickness and in most times the IRC will allow them to install this product thickness of ½” on ceilings framed on ceiling joist with no strapping or furring and directly applied to framing of 24” o. c. spacing. R702.2.1 and R702.3.5.

Compound this with insulation weight and high moisture content of the wood; well there you have it.

In most of these cases you will see the inverted dimple more so than a nail pop.

Same scenario would apply for walls where the builder used kraft faced insulation and faced stapled to the studs and the drywall contractor is not conscious of the pressure applied to the drywall when installed. The wood starts to shrink and will pull the screw head in along with it or stay behind, and thus a drywall pop.

In cases where you see nail pops near the exterior walls, would normally be caused by the flexing of the roof trusses from wind uplift that is really negligible, but enough to cause it’s flexing to show up as a pop nail/screw.

This would be where one would have to adhere to no screwing or nailing within 16” from walls. Ceiling goes up first and the wallboard on the exterior prevents sagging. Shrinkage of the top plates could be another contributor of this.

Now we get into the science of the framing lumber and moisture contributing factors.

**Stopping the popping **

The familiar fastener pop is probably the most common drywall problem that crops up when studs and joists shrink.
When first fastened, drywall is driven tightly against framing. But as the wood between the fastener tip, whose position is fixed, and the edge of the framing shrinks, it pulls away from the back of the panel, leaving a small gap between framing and panel. Pressure later applied to the panel face closes the gap, forcing the fastener head to lift the taping compound. Pops are fewer and less pronounced with screws versus nails. First, for the same holding power, screws are shorter than nails, so there is less wood between the screw tip and framing face to shrink. And secondly, it takes higher pressure to force drywall along a threaded shank than it does to slide it along a smooth one.
Pops frequently appear in ceilings near the perimeter because shrinking top plates force ceiling drywall down onto the upper edge of wall panels. Prevent these pops by not using fasteners in ceiling drywall within 16 inches of walls.
Pops that appear when outlet and switch plate covers are screwed down, or when interior trim is applied, may be the result of over fastening or misplaced fasteners.
You can reduce the potential for pops considerably by screwing and gluing drywall. The Gypsum Association, for example, extends its screw-only on-center spacing for walls from 16 in. to 24 in. when panels are screwed and glued.
**Understanding withdrawal **
Nail pops occur inside buildings because of the initial shrinkage of the drywall. That would come first in my book, assuming that the lumber framing was of a S-Dry quality and protected from the elements before it was installed.
In a previous post, I tried to explain the fact that in most cases on this rush built homes, the drywall is delivered for installation and most times the doors and windows are not even installed.
Humidity in the drywall product is high along with the RH in the lumber framing. The drywall contractor comes in and installs the high RH drywall and leaves.
Right behind him comes the painter and provides more moisture into the board by spraying a latex paint, three coats in two days and leaves.
Well looks good at the moment until the controlled heat and humidity levels subside, and will you know it, the drywall and the stud framing are all equalizing and here comes the pop nails/screws.
So one cannot blame the pop screw to only one scenario, there are many variables involved in this cause.
To try and pin point the exact cause is practically impossible and the best thing to do is make the necessary repairs and it will eventually equalize itself to a normal condition.
So a synopsis of events here to monitor for better control of pop nails would be;
Insure that all the lumber framing is of a minimum of S-Dry #2 or better lumber
Provide shelter of the components of the dwelling framing as soon as possible to minimize the unnecessary moisture
Protect all building materials such as drywall, dry until installation and provide a controlled moisture or RH balance when installation commences.
Provide the necessary care and diligence in the installation to prevent voids behind the drywall.
Use furring at 16” centers on ceiling framing of 24” o. c. and use 5/8” drywall when possible that would eliminate a lot of problems.

Did not mean for this to get this lengthy, but trying to promote the topic.
Thank you.

Marcel :):smiley:

thanks Marcel