What causes drywall cracks, nail pops and screw pops?

By Lee Benson

Inevitably, at some point in time all homes develop cracks in the drywall, nail and screw pops as well as caulk separation. So what causes drywall screw pops, cracks, and nail pops and will it ever stop? The two main reasons these happen are due to temperature fluctuation and structural settling.

drywall screw pops and cracks

As the seasons change so do the temperatures inside and outside the home. Depending on when your new home is completed, the inside temperatures between summer and winter can vary as much as 30+ degrees. So as you regulate the temperatures in your home, the materials expand and contract. Cooling the home causes materials to contract while heating the home causes the materials to expand. This will often show up in the form of cracks in drywall accompanied by nail and screw pops and caulk separation. Most of these drywall problems occur within the first 30 days from the time the temperature is regulated.

Here in North Carolina, the temperatures can vary from single digits in the winter to triple digits in the summer. Those major temperature changes contribute to the expanding and contracting of the materials as the outside materials are connected to the inside materials of your home.

The second factor is fairly simple. Your new house will settle. It takes a period of time for a house to settle completely. Usually, the majority of the settling will happen within the first year. The materials used to build your home will give a little here and there resulting in drywall cracks, nail and screw pops and caulk separation. If you are asking yourself, will it ever stop? It will lessen over time, but unfortunately it won’t go away entirely as homes never stop moving.

What can you do to help minimize these drywall cracks and nail and screw pops? Keeping the temperature regulated in your house is the most important way to minimize drywall problems. It’s best to keep the inside temperature somewhere between 60° and 80° F (15° and 27° C), to avoid temperature extremes inside the home.

While drywall cracks, nail and screw pops and cracked caulking are frustrating, it doesn’t mean that your home was poorly built. Repairing them is part of routine homeowner maintenance which will be covered in another article.

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Edited and posted by

McKee Homes online marketing manager

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