Dents, Holes and Pops: Prepping Your Walls for Paint

There’s nothing quite like setting your brush down, sliding back into your favorite cozy space and admiring a well-painted room. Before you get to that point, however, there’s ‘pre-paint’ legwork that must be done, starting with the repair of holes in your wall. Before you crack open the bucket of joint compound and grab the joint knife, keep reading. Not all wall damage is created equal. 

Small Dings, Nail Holes and Dents

Before you break out the joint compound, scrap away any loose paint or other debris from the area you’re repairing. Using your joint knife, spread the compound over the small area requiring repair. You should completely fill in the damaged space. Using the joint knife, pull away excess compound to make it level with the rest of the wall. Allow the space to dry according to the directions on the package. Keep in mind that it may take as long as 24 hours, so plan your room renovations accordingly. Once the repaired section is dry, sand it smooth and get ready to paint!

Small Holes

Don’t confuse ‘small’ with the nail-sized holes mentioned above. We’re talking about the hole created from a doorknob that met a wall with a little more pop and punch than it ought to have. If you’ve got a repair about that size, you’re going to need a bit more than joint compound and sandpaper to fix things. Pick up a peel-and-stick patch to repair this type of damage. The patch is a screen covered by fiberglass. Remove the backing and press the patch into place over the hole. Now pull out your joint compound and joint knife. Cover the mesh patch with layers of compound being careful to smooth each layer and level it off with the wall. Plan on applying three coats in total, letting each coat dry before applying the next one. Once the final coat is dry, sand the repaired area smooth and flush with the rest of the wall. Now you’re ready to paint! 

Note: You can find repair kits with patches for holes up to about six inches. Some patches are mesh like the one described above. Others will be a reinforced center panel surrounded by self-sticking tape. Larger holes require a different approach that we’ll cover in a future blog article.

Nail Pops

When you look at your wall, do you see small protrusions about the size of a nail head? This happens when the nails used to affix drywall to the studs pull away from the wood. You’ve got two choices on how to repair this, but both begin with scrapping away the ‘popped’ bit of drywall until the head of the nail is exposed. One option is to drive the nail back into the stud. Once you’ve done that, drill a drywall screw into place slightly above the nail to reinforce the drywall. Alternately, you can remove the offending nail and replace it with the drywall screw above or below the original hole. Regardless of which option you select, make sure the nail head and screw are slightly recessed into the drywall creating a dimple. Grab that joint compound again and fill in the small holes created by the removed (or re-driven) nail and the new screw. As above, wait until it’s fully dry and then sand the compound down again for a smooth even finish.

by Anjie Cho