Ken Collier: Hello! My name is Ken Collier and I am an Editor at the Family Handyman Magazine, the leading brand for do-it-yourself homeowners. Before you can get a great paint job, you need to get your walls smooth. I am going to tell you about how to patch small nail holes, such as would be left by picture hanging nails, nail pops and small holes up to about the size of a golf ball.
Here we have two nail holes where somebody changed their body about where they wanted their picture to be and what are called nail pops, but are often screw pops as well, where the drywall fastener has become exposed. Fixing small nail holes is simplicity itself. Forget using toothpaste or soap or any of those home remedies. Buy a small tub of latex spackling compound and use a small flexible putty knife to apply it. Here you go.
While the spackling compound is drying, let's fix this nail pop or screw pop in this case. The main tool you need is a driver drill with a Phillips driver bit and a couple one-and-a-quarter inch drywall screws. We will put one in, above and one below the offending nail or screw.
The trick with driving in drywall screws is to put them in so they are below the surface of the drywall, but not so deep that they tear the paper that forms the surface of the dry wall. Now once we have got two drywall screws in, we will drive in the drywall screw or in the case of a nail, pound it in a little deeper and we are ready to apply some drywall compound.
Our two nail holes are now ready for their second coat of spackling compound. For the nail pops, you are going to want to use drywall joint compound, commonly referred to as mud. For the first coat, you goal is to fill the nail holes or the screw holes. We will come back once this is dry and apply a second coat and then a third coat.
While the mud is drying on our nail pops, let's return to our small picture hanging nail holes. Now if you are filling the holes with spackle, two coats maybe enough or you can try a third. When they are dry, it's time to sand. I am sanding with a very simple wooden block and some 120 or 100 grit sandpaper.
Alright, let's test this and see if the mud is dry. Oh yeah, it feels good. Okay, I will scrape off any ridges and then sand. I am paying particular attention to the edges feathering them out nicely so they have a nice undetectable edge. When you have sanded, there is still one critical step left and that's to prime the patches.
It's important to prime the patches so that when you paint over it, the paint has the same level of gloss everywhere. If you don't prime, the patches will tend to show through as just the difference in gloss and the overlying paint. I am using a quick drying primer that should allow me to go over this with paint very quickly.
When the primer is dry, your walls would be nice and smooth and ready for that perfect coat of paint.