Nail pops occur when the nails used to secure drywall become loose and pop out. This occurrence is characterized by a silver dollar size protrusion of paint and plaster. There are several reasons nail pops may occur, including humidity, regular vibrations and sound waves.
Humidity is the primary cause of nails protruding from drywall. Seasonal humidity causes the wood to expand, then contract, pushing the nails out of the wood. In environments where seasonal humidity is an issue, it is best to use screws to attach drywall to the studs.
Homes located near freeways and railroad tracks may have nail pop problems as well. This is caused by the vibrations of large trucks and trains passing by. Over time, the vibrations cause the nails to loosen and pop out. Houses located in areas of frequent seismic activity will experience the same effects.
Another, less common, cause of nail pops is the presence sound waves. Many people listen to their music at excessively loud levels, causing sound waves to vibrate the walls. This loosens the wood surrounding the nails, causing them to protrude over a period of time.
Nail pops are relatively simple to fix, though the fix is time-consuming. It is best to hold off on fixing them until you are ready to repaint the whole wall, as you will have to anyway to maintain a uniform appearance. In order to fix nail pops you will need a hammer, nail punch, putty set and paint.
Use the nail punch to hammer the nail deep into the studs. If the nail is bent, use a new one to prevent tearing the dry wall. Drive another nail half an inch (1.27 cm) away from the original one for extra support. If you are experiencing a large amount of nail pops, it may be best to replace all the nails with dry wall screws, as you are likely to have a lot more over time.
After returning the nails to their original position, you will have a decent size hole in your plaster and paint. Fill this area in with putty, using the putty knife. Level it out and allow it to dry for a couple of hours. Use sand paper or a power sander to smooth and level the putty so it is even with the rest of the wall. Clear away the drywall dust and repaint the wall.