The Most Common Causes of Drywall Damage

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Many homes use drywall to create interior walls. While this material is generally sturdy and easy to work with, it can be damaged due to various factors, many of which are beyond your control. Regardless of the reason for the damage, hiring contractors to repair your drywall damage can be a wise investment. Before turning to the professionals, learn why your drywall may have been damaged. Often, the damage can be accidental, but many issues can be prevented. This article explains the most common ways drywall can become damaged, from poor installation to household pests.

Water Damage

water-damaged drywall

Water damage is a prevalent cause of compromised drywall, often resulting from older or improperly installed plumbing. Water leaks, floods, or high humidity levels can cause drywall to become soft, warped, or develop mold and mildew. Leaky pipes can lead to problems like bulging, buckling, and compromised structural integrity.

Also, your roof, doors, and windows – when not properly functioning due to damages– can cause leaks that can leaks gradually harm your drywall. Look out for signs like wetness and dark spots, which are indicators of a looming problem. Seeing black mold behind the walls is a red flag – it can pose health issues over time.

In bathrooms, steam and moisture can gradually damage drywall if there is insufficient ventilation or if the drywall hasn’t been properly sealed or finished with moisture-resistant materials.

In this situation, your first priority should be repairing the source of the leaks, whether it’s the roof, plumbing, or unsealed areas exposed to wet conditions. Address water-related problems promptly to prevent moisture-related drywall damage. You may also need to bring in a plumber to repair the damaged water line. Then, enlist a drywall repair professional to handle the damaged drywall. Typically, they will remove and replace the affected section with new material, followed by any necessary repainting.

To prevent future occurrences, periodically inspect your home’s plumbing for optimal functionality. If you identify this issue, promptly repair the drywall to prevent mold growth. Efficient drywall maintenance can safeguard your home from water damage, but be sure to follow waterproof wall panel installation instructions for proper implementation.

Poor Installation

Poor installation can make your drywall look unsightly, impacting the tape seams and the fasteners in place.

When drywall is initially installed, nails or screws secure it to the underlying material. If the installation is subpar, the drywall may shift over time, causing those screws and nails to protrude. While you can reattach them and patch the holes, this problem may persist.

Similarly, improper installation can affect the joint fastening tape. If the drywall sheet isn’t correctly installed, it can start to buckle or come loose, leading to the tape peeling off. Patching can offer a temporary fix, but ultimately, addressing the root issue of poor installation is essential.

If you notice these protruding nails, avoid hammering them back into the wall. The best course of action is to remove them and properly fasten them to the wall’s stud. Alternatively, you can seek the assistance of a professional service to ensure a secure installation.

Homeowners should always enlist an experienced contractor for drywall installations. An improper initial installation can result in future instability, manifesting as bulging seams, uneven sheet placement, and excessive joints. If you notice any of these signs, it’s wise to consult a professional to rectify the issues before further damage occurs.

Cracking

a cracked wall

What might start as a small, innocent crack can quickly escalate into a significant issue. Ignoring them is not advisable – they tend to grow larger over time, potentially resulting in costly and troublesome repairs.

Cracks can emerge due to factors like water damage or slight shifts in your house’s foundation. Plumbing issues are a more common source of cracks, so regular plumbing inspections can prevent problems from worsening. Most commonly, cracks appear on ceilings, often in areas with moisture. Improper installation can also be a culprit.

Regularly inspect your walls and promptly engage trained experts to patch any cracks. If the crack widens, consider having your roof inspected for signs of additional damage. What causes the crack must be addressed first before repairing or replacing the drywall.

Termite Problems

Nobody welcomes the idea of termites or any other unwanted insects in their homes. Termite damage to drywall can vary from glaringly obvious to subtle, depending on how quickly you detect them. Keep an eye out for telltale signs like crumbled baseboards, a hollow sound when you knock on the wall, small pinholes, paint bubbles, and wood that’s been gnawed on.

Typically, they initially target deteriorating wood, which invites them into your home, but once inside, they may also go after your drywall. If termites infiltrate your walls, it’s best to call in an exterminator to remove them. Termites can spread and jeopardize your home’s structural integrity.

To minimize the impact of termite damage, it’s wise to have your home regularly inspected, and if you see signs of termites, reach out to a pest control company immediately. If your home’s structural integrity remains intact, you can then call in a drywall repair specialist to fix your wall safely.

Holes

As we go about our daily routines at home, it’s almost inevitable that we’ll accidentally bump into things now and then. Over time, our drywall can accumulate its fair share of scratches, dings, scrapes, and even the occasional hole. Even with the best of intentions, it can be challenging to keep walls pristine, especially in households with active kids or pets.

When you see holes in your drywall, it’s a clear indicator of damage. These holes can result from various incidents, including doors forcefully opening, accidental furniture impacts, and more. As soon as you spot them, addressing and patching them promptly is essential.

If you spot any dents or holes, addressing them promptly can prevent the damage from worsening. If left unattended, they could lead to the need to replace the entire drywall, incurring additional costs, effort, and time.

Renovations

You may inadvertently damage the drywall during home renovations, such as stripping paint, removing tiles or wallpaper, or taking out baseboards. Sometimes, there’s no avoiding this collateral damage. It could be more significant if the tiles or baseboards were poorly installed in the first place, leading to the need to remove chunks of drywall or peel-off strips due to excessive construction adhesive use.

Using tools like a heat gun and a utility knife can help make the renovation process smoother and minimize drywall damage. When your renovations are complete, or as part of the process, you can use drywall compound and sandpaper to fill and smooth the walls.

Dented Corners

L-shaped corner protectors shield the corners of your drywall, but there’s only so much that it can do. Once they’re covered and concealed with mud, they can become invisible, but they’re often prone to dents from furniture or larger items. You might even accidentally dent them while vacuuming your home.

In most cases, you can patch these dents with some drywall compound. However, for more extensive damage, you might need to remove and replace the corner bead piece.

Impact or Blunt Force

a hole in the wall caused by fist-punching

Impact is a common culprit behind drywall damage in many households. Energetic kids can playfully kick the wall. A door swinging wide open can cause the doorknob to collide with the relatively thin drywall. An angry or frustrated member of the household may see the wall as something to kick or punch. The same risk exists when moving furniture or installing heavy wall fixtures with screws and nails. Repeated exposure to such impacts can leave dents or even puncture the wall.

Regardless of the source of impact, it’s essential to assess the damage and consider seeking expert advice. For minor scratches, a touch-up with interior painting is often sufficient to resolve the issue.

Foundation Settling

Foundations are the backbone of your home, designed to provide stability. However, there are various reasons that can cause them to settle. This setting can result in cracks and other forms of damage to your drywall. A drywall crack, especially when found in a ceiling, is a safety concern. It’s important not to overlook it – neglecting a crack may allow it to expand, potentially leading to an expensive and time-consuming repair.

A contractor can assist you in determining whether a new paint job will address the unsightly cracks or if more comprehensive repairs are necessary.

Scuff Marks and Scratches

Damage isn’t always in the form of holes; sometimes, it’s a simple scuff mark. These marks typically occur when furniture rests against the wall. As the furniture shifts slightly over time, it can rub against the wall’s surface, wearing away the top layer of drywall. It ends up resembling something drawn with a pencil.

Moisture-softened drywall can also become a target for pets. Dogs and cats, being territorial, may scratch at the wall, damaging not only the paint but also the wall’s thin paperboard layers.

If the drywall isn’t deeply chipped or scratched, you can often remove the scuff mark with a wet sponge. If that doesn’t work, a fresh coat of paint can often do the trick.

Roof Damage

If you frequently encounter recurring cracking in your ceiling, it’s advisable to have both your roof and the drywall damage inspected. Any form of a hole in a wall, especially in a ceiling, could signify a structural issue and should be taken seriously.

How to Prevent Drywall Damage

Protecting the walls in your home is essential for maintaining its safety and appearance. Here’s how to prevent drywall damage to avoid repairs in the first place:

Keep furniture away from the wall 

While positioning your furniture close to the wall may create the illusion of a larger room, it also exposes your drywall to potential scuffs, dings, and holes. The risk of drywall damage from furniture is akin to that from doors, whether it results from a single significant impact or numerous smaller ones over time.

To safeguard your drywall, a simple yet effective strategy is to maintain some distance between your furniture and the walls. By placing your furniture slightly away from the wall, you can prevent scuffs and scratches that can occur when you sit down, rock in chairs, or make adjustments. You don’t necessarily need a lot of space; leaving at least an inch of clearance can suffice. Another option to consider is installing chair rails to act as a protective barrier between your furniture and the wall.

Be careful when moving furniture

When you’re moving into a new home, exercising caution when positioning furniture can significantly reduce the risk of scratches and dents. The act of moving furniture demands extra care to ensure that your drywall remains undamaged. Opting for professional movers can provide the assurance that your walls and door frames won’t suffer any harm during the furniture-moving process.

Use door stoppers

Doors, with their sharp corners or doorknobs, can inadvertently cause dents, holes, or scratches on your walls. While the first time a door crashes into the wall may not damage the drywall, as it continues to hit the wall over and over, it can cause damage over time. Also, one vigorous swing may be enough to put a hole or dent in the wall.

Door stops prove to be an excellent preventive measure, particularly if you have children or pets. They serve to halt the doorknob from forcefully striking the adjacent wall. By employing door stops, you can spare yourself the need for repetitive repairs caused by consistent damage.

Seek professional repairs

When it comes to repairing damaged drywall, especially if you’re dealing with holes left by previous owners or other forms of damage, it’s wise to entrust the task to skilled professionals. Attempting to repair drywall and sheetrock on your own can potentially lead to more complications and additional damage in the future.

Ensure proper placement when hanging pictures

Before hanging pictures, careful planning is essential to minimize the need for future drywall repairs. You should determine the exact location and orientation of the frame in advance. To do this, gather tools like a level, tape measure, painter’s tape, and a pencil. These tools will help you make precise measurements and ensure that the frame is perfectly level and positioned as desired on the wall. By taking these precautions, you can avoid the need to redo your work, which often leads to marks, scratches, holes, and unnecessary headaches.

Address water damage promptly

Water damage poses a significant threat to drywall and should be addressed without delay. Drywall is a porous material that can absorb water, leading to swelling, discoloration, and eventual deterioration. Moreover, it can facilitate the growth of mold, which becomes nearly impossible to eliminate once it penetrates the material’s pores.

While proper installation provides some level of protection against water, any leaks or floods have the potential to compromise drywall. It’s crucial to be vigilant, as water can infiltrate the seams between walls and floors, potentially spreading the damage from one room to another. If you notice water-damaged drywall and find yourself wondering whether to seek the services of a nearby handyman, the answer is a resounding yes. Addressing water damage promptly is essential to maintaining the health and safety of your living space.

Minimize the use of heavy frames when possible

The size and weight of objects and their frames can have a direct impact on the potential for drywall damage. Heavier items necessitate more significant support, resulting in larger fasteners (and larger holes). Hanging heavier objects can also cause fasteners to gradually sag, leading to the development of larger cracks in your drywall over time. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the weight of the object and select a frame that can support it without adding excessive weight.

Try using alternative methods for hanging pictures or artwork on the wall

There’s more than one method for hanging pictures or artwork. While the traditional approach involves screws or nails, you can also opt for strong adhesive fasteners to avoid the need for even minor drywall repairs. When applied correctly, these devices securely adhere to your wall and can support objects weighing up to five pounds without causing permanent marks or damage. However, it’s advisable to refrain from using adhesive fasteners for larger and heavier items.

For larger and heavier objects, it’s crucial to hang them on a wall stud, which provides added support for both the wall and the frame. To locate the stud, use a stud finder, an electronic tool designed to detect these supports. Once you’ve identified the desired stud for hanging your picture, employ a wall anchor kit for enhanced guidance, control, and support. Merely nailing the frame in place may lead to the need for drywall crack repair in the future.

Address nail pops properly.

Drywall panels are affixed to studs using nails or screws, and occasionally, these fasteners may pop out of place as the house settles over time. Popped nails protrude slightly from the drywall surface, often without breaking through the paint cover, making them inconspicuous unless closely examined.

Repairing nail pops requires the correct approach. Avoid the improper method of simply pounding them back in with a hammer, as it fails to address the underlying issue that caused the nail to pop in the first place. This approach may also risk further damage to the drywall. Instead, rely on professional repair to properly replace the nail and investigate potential underlying problems that caused the nails to pop.

Prepare adequately before installing wallpaper

When enhancing your wall’s appearance with paint or wallpaper, proper preparation is essential. To safeguard your drywall, apply a primer before installation. This ensures easier removal in the future. Attempting to remove wallpaper adhered directly to the plasterboard can damage your walls and compromise the integrity of the drywall. Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare properly before embarking on wallpaper installation.

Conclusion

Drywall damage can be a troublesome issue that many homeowners may not be prepared to handle. If you notice holes, cracks, or warping in your walls, don’t hesitate to contact experts for professional repair. However, you can also take a proactive approach by understanding the primary causes of drywall damage and learning how to prevent future issues.

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