Telltale Signs Of A Bad Drywall Job [And How To Fix It]

It is fairly common to have walls or a ceiling made of drywall in standard American homes. However, there are times when the installation is done poorly. How can you tell if your drywall was badly done, and how do you fix it? Look no further as we have done the research to help you out!

Here are some of the telltale signs of a bad drywall job:

  • Sloppy application
  • Sagging and warping
  • Rough surface

Badly done drywall will not look or feel secure. At worst, it could even be made of toxic material. You can fix the issue job by:

  • Replacing the drywall
  • Smoothing the drywall
  • Painting over the drywall

We will go over these signs in more detail throughout this post. And, if you find that your drywall was indeed done poorly, we have some steps for you on how to fix it. Read on to learn more!

How Can You Tell If A Drywall Job Is Bad?

New home construction interior drywall tape and finish details

Drywall, or gypsum board, is put together in panels. There is a lot of internal structure going on behind drywall, as it can be used for either the walls or ceiling. Tapes, nails, screws, and the like are involved when putting together drywall.

Here are the top three telltale signs of a bad drywall job in more detail:

Sloppy Application

Good drywall application leaves a seamless finish. Meanwhile, the bad application shows visible joints, unevenness, or even exposed attachments and tape. A coating of mud covers up any screw holes made during installation. If you see any screw holes after installation, then this is a sign of sloppy application.

Sagging And Warping

Drywall is also prone to creasing and changing shape.  A bad drywall job shows in uneven corners and misalignments, as well as misshapen panels. For ceilings, sagging is also a big red flag. This means whoever screwed on the drywall did not use the right type and size of the board.

Rough Surface

Art grunge texture of plaster white wall

Finally, drywall should end up with a smooth finish once installed. Your drywall needs to be at a specific smoothness level to be up to standard with the Gypsum Association. Check out the next sections to see which levels are required for different rooms in the house.

How To Fix A Bad Drywall Job

Depending on what the main issue is, there are different ways that you can approach fixing a bad drywall job. Make sure to properly inspect the work first, before doing anything. You do not want to end up with worse results than you started.

Replace Sloppy Application

When fixing sloppy applications, chances are you will have to disassemble the already attached drywall. You need to replace poorly installed drywall if the first one installed shows signs of damage, structural weakness, or is too sloppily finished.

Take apart the tapes and screws putting the drywall panels in place. You might need to have brand-new drywall for this as well. You will not be able to use the old drywall, since it could already have been damaged.

When reinstalling drywall, ensure you have the correct measurements. Properly cut the drywall down to size and carefully install it on the frame. Align and level it well to avoid crookedness afterward. Screw the panels on, and finish off with drywall compound and tape.

Replace Drywall At A Different Size

Workers are using screws and a screwdriver to attach drywall to the ceiling

If you are replacing sagging drywall from a ceiling, you may have to replace it with thicker and stronger material. Inspect the trusses of your ceiling. If they are too far apart (24 inches or wider), then this could be causing the drywall to sag.

If you do not want to completely replace your drywall ceiling, the other option would be to add a second layer instead. This will lower your ceiling height, but the better application of a second ceiling can cover up the badly done first one.

Smooth Out Drywall

Man's hand sanding plaster on a new new drywall installation, Telltale Signs Of A Bad Drywall Job [And How To Fix It]

Your drywall needs to be finished by taking, layers of drywall compound, or a skim coat. Here are the steps to smoothing out rough drywall:

  1. Prepare the wall by removing textures that stick out. You can either scrape or sand the wall.
  2. Apply a primary, thin layer of pre-mixed drywall compound.
  3. Once dry, tape over the seams between the panels.
  4. Roll on a fresh layer of compound over the drywall.
  5. Scrape along the wall to get rid of any unevenness.
  6. Sand to finish after drying.

Click here to see Gypsum Joint Compound on Amazon.

Click here to see Joint Knife Set on Amazon.

Paint Over Imperfections On Drywall

If you are dealing with minimal imperfections on your drywall, you could get away with just painting over it. Simply sand and prime the area you want to paint over before applying the new layer of paint.

Remember, it is important to determine how much repairing your drywall needs. If the drywall job is really poor, then no amount of painting or covering up can make it look good.

How Smooth Should Finished Drywall Be?

We pointed out that rough drywall is a sign of a bad drywall job. There can be some variations in how smooth the drywall finish is, depending on its function and where it is in the house.

Finished drywall for home interiors needs to be at the very least Level 3. The highest is Level 5, while the lowest is Level 0. Levels 0 to 2 are typically only acceptable for less-lived spaces. This includes garages and attics. Less used spaces in the home can also go lower than Level 5.

Your drywall is typically smooth before installation. What happens is that while setting up, the indentations and handling it receives along the way affect its overall finish. Completely unfinished drywall needs tape and layers of joint compound as well as sanding to get smoother.

Young adult man hand polishing white wall with sanding sponge

Finished drywall can still end up rough if it receives a messy mud coat application. Level 5 smoothness is a result of multiple layers of drywall compound and a final layer of skim coat.

Can You Fix A Bad Mud Job On Painted Drywall?

A bad mud job will show behind the paint. Since the surface is uneven, paint does not lay smoothly on it. Thus, you will be able to see the drywall work regardless.

Drywall should not be painted unless you are satisfied with its finish. A fresh coat of drywall mud or compound will not stick to already painted surfaces. You can still repair a bad mud job, so long as you scrape the paint off.

Sand or scour the paint off of the wall just enough that it is rough to the touch. The rough texture will help the new layer of mud stick. When you are applying fresh mud, scrape it flat between layers with a blade. This will ensure that you end up with a good finish.

When the mud is completely dried, you can apply a skim coat over top of it. Finally, apply a new fresh coat of paint to the repaired drywall.

Is My Drywall Toxic?

Toxic drywall can also result in a bad drywall job. Even worse, it is a detriment to your health, so it should be avoided at all costs. There are a few signs to look out for to determine whether or not your drywall is toxic.

Toxic drywall smells bad. It gives off a sulfuric smell and is capable of corroding copper wiring in your house. Bad drywall will interfere with technology and appliances, causing them to fail or break sooner.

It also leads to several symptoms such as breathing problems, skin problems, and headaches. In this case, replacing bad drywall may be difficult as it may have contaminated the materials around it.

Only buy drywall from certified sources in the US. Though costs may be higher, it will keep you from life-threatening illnesses and save you from expenses in the long run. You can purchase non-toxic drywall from Natural Gypsum, USG, Georgia-Pacific, and CertainTeed.

Wrapping Up

A man's hand sanding plaster on a new new drywall installation

The telltale signs of a bad drywall job include sloppy-looking application, sagging and warping, and a rough finish. You can avoid these issues by hiring a well-trusted and experienced contractor.

By spotting these signs early on, you can avoid issues and further expenses in the future. Start fixing a bad drywall job as soon as possible. You can either do this yourself using the tips we laid out, or hire a professional to do it for you.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, check out our other articles before you go!

How To Patch A Drywall Hole Without Studs?

How To Clean Up After Drywall Installation?

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