Quick fix for protruding nails in wallboard, and a plea for humanesolutions to garden pests

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Q. After many years, the nails in our plasterboard walls are popping out. How can they be repaired so the wall is smooth again?

- A.N., Hingham, Mass.

A. The smaller the hole or dimple, the easier it is to hide, says Howard Clark, a licensed construction supervisor in Hopkinton, Mass.

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Often a patch will show through a new coat of paint, especially if it's been painted with an eggshell or semigloss finish. That's why contractors prefer flat-finish paints.

Before tapping the popped nails back in, use a drill to drive in a new 1-1/4 inch plasterboard screw through the wallboard and into the stud about 2 inches above or below each protruding nail head.

The trick is to set the screw into the board without letting the head tear through the surface, yet setting it deep enough so that you can spackle over it. If you go too deep, just leave the screw and set in another.

Now set the nails back into the plasterboard with a hammer and a nailset. Pound until the heads break through the board's surface. You're trying to leave a clean hole versus a hammer mark in the board. By driving the nail deeper, it will catch a fresh grip at its tip, and the paper will help defeat the head from coming back out. Remove loose paint, plaster, or compound around these spots. You are now ready to spackle.

The right product used here makes a difference; lightweight vinyl spackle is preferred over joint compound or other putties. It adheres well to most painted surfaces, won't shrink, wipes smooth with a putty knife, and can be sanded and painted over in minutes.

A final tip about painting: Touch up the spackle spots using just the tip of a brush. Once thoroughly dry you can determine if painting the entire wall is necessary.

Readers respond

I was disappointed and appalled at your printing of advice regarding the use of fox urine [to discourage animals from gardens, Jan. 20]. Groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have shown the horrors inflicted on animals to produce such urine.

While I realize that such advice comes from a reader, do you not have an obligation to use sound judgment and discretion in printing such advice? Don't you have a moral obligation to seek out humane solutions?

- R.O., Pearl River, N.Y.

Readers: Pose your questions and we'll seek out experts on home repairs, gardens, food, and family legal issues. Send queries to the Homefront Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail home@csps.com

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