Screw pops in walls

holcombe3March 12, 2014

Hi, we are just finishing up construction of a 7500 square foot house. A couple of months ago, our GC noticed a few screw pops in the sheetrock. They mudded over them and repainted those areas. Now, we are moving into the house and finishing up final touches and we have noticed screw pops everywhere. They are in just about every room and leave a round blemish on the walls. Has anyone had any experience with this? Our GC says this is the first house he has ever dealt with this. I read up on it and it seems to be common in new houses as the wood shrinks and settles. But to this extent? So, who is responsible for paying to fix all of this? I assume the GC is. He is bringing the guy down this week that we bought the lumber from to see if maybe this is something the lumber place can file on their insurance?? Someone is going to have to pay for all of these walls to be repainted. Any experience with this will be greatly appreciated!

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Someone just posted about this same issue but much less severe. I believe most attributed it to the use of nails rather that screws but I am foggy on the details. Did you try searching the forum for similar topics? I feel like we see the nail pop issue come up more often than you would think.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Take a look at your contract. Mine had a section on this; as long as we don't repaint the room, it is covered by the builder for 1 year. The repair for screw/nail pops is pretty simple but if it is as excessive as you say, I think the builder will need to take a look at it and repair as necessary.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:02PM
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The Construction Performance Guidelines for TARION, the mandatory government warranty programme I build under, say that

"Nail pops resulting from normal shrinkage of materials due to drying after construction are excluded from the statutory warranty." [ 9.6]

However, if on the possession fasteners are visible, they must be repaired. The Guidelines specifically say that if you can see the filler material in normal light that is not warrantable.

In practice, many builders voluntarily repair pops after the one-year warranty period, but do not paint.

Pops are definitely annoying. On walls that people will see up close (stairwells) or that are accent lit such as near fireplaces, I texture, skim coat, glue on a second layer of thin drywall or fiddle with the lighting to minimize or eliminate the distraction.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Making no claim to be an expert, I think most nail pops are the result of using lumber which has a moisture content that somewhat too high. When the lumber dries, it shrinks and the nails/screws are then a bit too far out from the lumber.
There may be other causes.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 7:18PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Pops are a normal part of building a new home. Most builders don't cover them under warranty, but will offer a goodwill gesture of repairing them one time post close. Usually around 6-9 months down the road is a good time to scedule that as the wood has had a season of drying. The aren't gonna touch up or repaint though.

If they do include those services, you're paying for it somewhere and it's probably not an average semi custom home. At the higher grade homes, you start of with a better protection of supplies from the elements, andmore climate control is used during the build, so you have more moisture removed befre the drywall ever goes on. That costs more, so you just won't see that effort and expenditure on a builder grade home. It's part of the ''invisible quality'' that ges into a higher priced custom home. Or, it should.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 8:01AM
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We built our new home last year and screw pops are another one of the reasons we went with Level 5/smooth finish for the walls and ceiling. We haven't had a lot of pops but I can fix them myself with the smooth finish...with any kind of textured finish it is pretty hard to blend in.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 8:06AM
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Ok, it does make me feel better that its not necessarily anything that was done wrong to cause this. It just happens. Its just frustrating because we thought we were finished and moving in and now we have patches all over the wall again where they are fixing them. And of course now I'm having to pay labor charges for these guys that are working on fixing it. My other concern is the painters had told me that since we used eggshell paint, it was hard to touch up that you had to repaint the whole walls in most cases. So Im hoping its not going to cost too much for the painters to come back in and repaint. For those of you that fix these yourself down the road, are you able to touch up the paint well? Also, for the walls that its not really that noticeable, if we leave them alone right now will they eventually come on through the wall or have they already done what they are going to do? I can live with some of them to save on repainting the walls. Thanks so much for yalls help!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 10:16AM
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Sometimes the nail pops get more noticeable and sometimes they don't change much at all after first noticed.
We like the look of eggshell paint but went with flat on all surfaces for the exact reason your painters describe. I have repaired eggshell before but have to blend the paint into a larger area.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 3:03PM
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the painters had told me that since we used eggshell paint, it was hard to touch up that you had to repaint the whole walls in most cases

Exactly right.

Incidentally, drying lumber affects Class 5 Walls too, just not as noticeably. Using 2x6 wall studs instead of 2x4s, especially for 9 or 10 ft. ceilings, can also cut back on pops. You can avoid pops altogether in basements by using light steel framing.

Although pops will usually show in the first year, they can gradually grow over several years.

This post was edited by worthy on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 18:07

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Ok, I had given a punch list to my builder of things I wanted fixed before we finalized on the house. When I got home from work last week, he had tried to patch some of the screw pops and then touch up the paint himself. It looked horrible! You guys werent kidding when you said eggshell doesnt touch up well. I would rather see the screw pops. I told him to just stop patching anything for now and I would have the painter repaint the entire wall on the walls he has patched. My husband met with the guy we bought the lumber from and all he had to say about the extensive popping throughout the house was that it was probably the eggshell paint making them show. So this week my husband, our general contractor, the lumber guy, sheetrock people and the mudding rep are all meeting to see what if anything can be done about it. All I know is we cant afford to have the entire house repainted so at this point I think we just need to repaint what has already been patched and live with the rest for now. The rooms that dont get sun you cant even see them unless you shine a flash light on them.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Clients I built a custom home for wanted dark colours in eggshell. I warned them that they should change their choices or pay for a skimcoat finish or plaster walls. They nixed that idea and on completion submitted a list of 50 pages of drywall "defects" to the warranty programme. The adjudicator rejected them all.

This post was edited by worthy on Mon, Mar 17, 14 at 18:27

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:21PM
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