How to fix Bulging Drywall Seams

How to fix Bulging Drywall Seams?

Bulging drywall seams; what does the even mean and how did it happen?  It simply means that your drywall is sticking out; almost like someone with a protruding belly.  Why it happens can be for various reasons.  Once this happens can you fix it?  Let’s find out.

What can Cause Bulging Drywall

The common reason that this happens is that mistakes or shortcuts were made during the installation process.  There can be several reasons or mistakes that might cause your drywall to budge and each one has a different fix.  There is no one set way to fix bulging drywall.  Sometimes these mistakes or shortcuts are not evident until later.  The larger bulges are generally moisture behind the panels due to leaking roofs or pipes.

Plumbing leaks

If this is the case, it is usually because water has pooled behind the drywall.  These types of bulges are usually present in a ceiling but if a significant amount of water has collected behind the drywall, then you can have bulges in the walls.  If the leak has been present for a long time, you may also notice discolorations like water stains.

Overdriven fasteners

This means that you have overdriven them into the walls, done it with the wrong tools, or you did not hold the drywall board securely against the studs.  Any of these can cause damage to the drywall paper, which will allow the moist joint compound to damage the drywall panel’s core.  The bulges from this cause are usually small.  They may also occur in just one panel.

Insufficient fastening

If the drywall bulge appears where two pieces of drywall meet, this is usually caused they it pulling away from the studs behind it.  There may also be some bubbling in the tap and compound that was applied to the seams.  This can happen if there were not enough screws used to secure the drywall when it was installed.  

It can also happen if it has not been fastened to a stud.  When installing drywall, the screws should be fastened a minimum of 12 inches apart to make sure it is properly secured.

Drywall panels too close together

This can happen if the finished work is poor or there are two sheets of drywall that are butting too close together.  This will cause bulges or crowing along the seams.

How to fix Bulging Drywall Seams

To fix bugling drywall, you can fix it in two different ways.

  • Cut out the bulge and replace that section
  • Draw the drywall back to the studs and replace it.

Patching Drywall


If this is the cause, you will have to replace the whole panel but first, you have to find the leak and repair it.  You have to then let the area behind the drywall dry before you can cover it with new drywall.  

Overdriven fasteners

Drill into the damaged area to remove the paper core that the moisture has caused to swell.  Patch the area with joint compound.  Let it dry and then sand the area smooth and repaint it.

Insufficient fastening

To fix this issue you will need to refasten the drywall panel with more screws.  If the panels are cracked or bent, you may have to replace them using new drywall.  To find the problem screws, use the stud finder to locate them.  To remove the problems crews use a screwdriver.

Replace the screws with drywall screws, #6 or #8 about 15 inches away from the old one on either side. Always make sure that the screw head sinks just below the surface of the drywall.  You want to create a dimple.  You have gone too far if the screw comes through the paper.  This also applies to screws that have been driven too deep into the drywall.

If the issue is screws that are driven in too deep, you will also have to remove any damaged gypsum or paper around the old screws and then fill in the holes with at least three light coats of compound joint compound after removing the screws.

Drywall panels too close together

Fixing this issue will require a lot of sanding and using a straightedge to help you figure out when you have sanded out the bulk of the issue.  Add drywall to the seam. Using a wide knife, feather out the joint compound to help prevent new bulges from occurring.

Once you have the seams relatively flat and smooth, sand them lightly.  Finally, prime and paint them to restore the way your wall looked.

General patching

If the bulges are caused by improper fastening or water and are less than eight inches you may be able to repair it by replacing only the area that is damaged.  If it is bigger than eight inches you will probably have to fix it as mentioned above.

If you are able to just replace the damaged area instead of the entire panel, you will have to cut a rectangle piece from new drywall.  At a 45-degree angle, bevel the edges. Hold this over the damaged area and trace around the new piece.  Cut the damaged piece from the wall along the outline you made.

Put the patch into the hole.  If it is slightly recessed and does not sit flat, you can trim the edges until it does.  After you have the patch in the wall, apply drywall tape.  Use a trowel to put drywall compound around the edges.

Make sure that you are not pressing down too hard or you could break the new piece of drywall.  Once the compound has dried, you can sand and repaint the patched area.

General Tips to fix Drywall Bulge

  • Use a drill to insert the screws into the studs after putting them in partway with a screwdriver.
  • Cover the heads of the replaced screw with drywall compound.
  • If there are any cracks in the bulge, you can use drywall tape and cover it with a thin coat of drywall compound.

Bulging Drywall in the Ceiling

The causes of this issue are basically the same as bulging drywall seams.  It can also be caused by the installers using drywall that is too thin.  To fix it, it is recommended that you take out the drywall and replace it.  You can also use furring strips that will create a thicker sheet of ceiling drywall.  This will help to support the area affected without having to tear it all out and replace it.

How to fix bulging drywall in ceiling

  • Start by putting in 1-by-3 inch furring strips on top of the existing drywall along the length of each ceiling framing member.  This is to make sure there are no more problems
  • On top of the furring strips, you need to add five-eighths inch drywall to give the ceiling the thickness it needs to keep it from bulging or sagging.
  • Secure both of these with two and one-half inch drywall screws.  They should be ever two feet across the furring strip.
  • In the affected area create a uniform surface by applying a joint compound.
  • Sand it with 150-grit sandpaper
  • Prime the area and then you can paint it.

Sometimes, the drywall bulge in the ceiling is caused by water damage, such as from a leaking roof.  If this is the case, you will have to repair the area of the roof that is leaking or replace the entire roof.  You can hire a professional to check the roof out to find the issue.


When sanding your new drywall, use 150-grit sandpaper.  You should also prime the area that you have fixed before you paint it.   Remember that before you fix bulging drywall find the cause, especially if you find it was caused by water.  It has to be fixed so it does not cause mold to start growing.  If you see any type of bulge, check it out and fix it before it becomes a larger project.

Sometimes it is easy to find the cause and other times it is not.  If you can press the bulge in the drywall and feel it move, this problem might be able to be fixed with just a few screws.  If you feel that you cannot do this yourself or a large area has been affected, you can always get a contractor with the experience to fix the problem.  Fixing bulging drywall seams can be an inexpensive and easy fix but it can be time-consuming.