Whether you are an experienced home repair guru, or this is your first real home issue, a bulge on an interior wall is alarming. More importantly, this is an issue you should be concerned about. Bulging walls are never a good sign, and they can be extremely dangerous. Depending on the material the wall is made from, there are several possible causes. Likewise, there are different repair methods for each. I will walk you through the likely causes of the problem, and how to fix it yourself, so you don’t need to worry about bulging, unsightly, and hazardous walls inside your home. Whatever the root of your wall-bulge, there’s a solution, and most of them can be implemented by a skilled DIYer fairly simply. I’ll provide you with a list of tools and materials as well as a step-by-step fix so you can rest easy against a flat wall.
Why is there a bulge on the interior wall? There is a bulge on an interior wall because there is a problem with the drywall. The drywall was not correctly attached to the studs and it is pulling away from the studs causing a bulge. Also, a bulge in an interior wall is a sign that there could be moisture that causing the drywall to expand and to pull outwards.
Seeing a bulge on an interior wall is never a good sign. Properly built and repaired walls should always be smooth and level, but not all wall bulges are the same. If the outside of your home is pushing outward, then you may need to talk to a specialist for repairs, but most of the time, you can fix those interior walls yourself.
Brick is harder to fix than you think. Though it may seem like a trowel, mortar and cement are all you need; it’s often wiser to have a professional come in to handle it. However, bulges in most interior walls are a drywall issue. There are several things that could be going on here, and I will explain the most common problems.
What is Drywall
Drywall is a panel that goes up over the frame and insulation that makes up the ‘bones’ of your home. When you have to find a stud to hang a picture, you’re looking for that frame under the drywall. However, the drywall itself is relatively thin, and it will bow and bulge under pressure.
Most people think of it as a rock-like substance between two paper sheets, but the truth is more complicated. Drywall is made of calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum), anti-mildew agents like boric acid, powdered crystal or mica, starch, potassium sulfate, EDTA or a similar chelating agent, plasticizers, paper or fiberglass, and water repellants like silanes or wax emulsion. There are many ways to cause a bulge in the floor to ceiling sheets of drywall.
Common Causes of Drywall Bulges
- Bad Patching- When drywall becomes damaged or broken, it’s necessary to replace it. Sometimes that means removing the whole panel, but you can also cut out a portion and replace it with another partial sheet. When a bad patch job happens, it may be responsible for the bulge.
- Fastening Issues- When the drywall isn’t properly attached, it may crack or pull away from the house’s frame. Alternately, using the wrong tool and over-driving, the fasteners can damage the drywall itself, allowing moisture inside, and this results in a bulge in your drywall.
- Water- Plumbing leaks and even roof leaks can cause water to become trapped inside the walls of your home. This can cause bulges, and you might even see discoloration. If left unchecked, there’s also a risk of mold problems.
What Causes Bulging Brick Walls
Most interior walls are not made of brick, so you are far less likely to see this sort of problem on inside brick walls. However, I will explain a few common causes of bulging brick as well, in case you need to know. Unfortunately, because brick is so sturdy, any brick wall that is bowed out more than a couple of inches may need replacement.
Since bowing brick is a serious danger, it’s best if you get a home inspector right away. These professionals can diagnose the issue and help direct you to appropriate repairs. Your brick should never become distended, and the pressure from this can cause walls to collapse. If that sounds dangerous, it’s because it is.
Identify The Bulge
Often a simple visual inspection is all you need to see that there’s a problem with a brick wall. When you’re not sure looking at the wall head-on, try a side angle. Walk up to the wall at one side and place an ear against the brick while sighting across the length of the wall to see if you notice an outward mound.
Another way to spot bulging on the inside of brick is by standing in doorways to sight down the wall. Moreover, pictures can be a good indication. If you have nails driven into the brick for hanging portraits, other art, or even mirrors along the wall, take a look at how they sit. A simple level can help you see if the picture is tilted outward.
Causes of Bulging Brick
There are five common reasons a brick wall will bulge outward. If there’s a coat of paint or sealant, sometimes a smaller problem can occur where this layer is coming off, giving the wall a slightly warped and bulging appearance. However, the other four causes are more problematic.
First, the mortar and joints may deteriorate over time. Sheer age, as well as a badly mixed mortar or wrongly installed joint, can change the way your wall sits up over time. Second, humidity can affect bricks. Although it shouldn’t be enough to cause a bulge, moisture in your walls could be the culprit.
Rust can become a problem for brick walls that have metal anchors. If there’s a buildup around those areas or your anchors have rusted through then, the wall will no longer be as stable as it once was. Lastly, water getting into the foundation of the wall can cause all manner of problems. The important thing to understand is that a bulge in brick is always a serious problem, and you need to treat it as such for your own safety.
Steps to Repair Bulging Drywall
Most interior wall bulges are drywall problems, so I will teach you how to replace the drywall in your home. The process and materials are outlined below to make it easier. I’ve also included a few pro tips for safety, finishing with paint, and clean up afterward.
Get Rid of the Bulge
First, you need to set up your drop cloth. Put on your safety glasses and add gloves, a mask, and coveralls if you prefer. Drywall is messy, and you don’t want the dust in your eyes or lungs if you can avoid it. Once you’re ready, you need your drill. Find the edges of the bulge and mark a small dot about four inches outside that area on four sides to make a square or rectangle.
You will drill into each of those dots so you have a place to put your reciprocating saw. However, if your bulge is so big you need to remove a whole panel, then you may not need this step. Feel free to skip the drilling and remove full panels as needed. I included this step for smaller bulges. If you need to remove a whole panel, drilling a hole and using the reciprocating saw can still help, but you won’t need to make a neat square.
Using your reciprocating saw, cut a straight line from one hole to the next while carefully avoiding slicing into the wood frame behind them. You should have a square (or rectangle) that is easy to remove when you are done. Sometimes it will fall out, so watch your toes.
The PowerSmart Cordless Reciprocating Saw will help you make quick work of your bulging drywall. The included battery and charger mean you don’t need to buy all the parts separately, like some brands. Moreover, tool-free blade changes help you save time. Plus, the comfort grip and thirty-six-month warranty will make sure you only need to worry about the job ahead. Click here to learn more on Amazon.
Measure the hole you’ve made and write down the size. If necessary, you can trim or sand slightly to make things more even. However, keep in mind that you need to measure after you make any additional cuts because the size may change slightly.
The goal here is to make sure your missing piece is as close to square or rectangle as possible so you can easily fit the patch inside. A small gap, a few millimeters, is easy to bridge with your tape and joint compound. Unfortunately, larger gaps or very uneven cuts can lead to trouble making the repairs fit and hold together.
Patch & Seal
Patching a bulge is relatively simple. If you plan to replace a whole panel, you can do that. The instructions here are for small bulges, so you could skip some steps if you don’t need them to make a smaller patch.
Take the measurements you wrote down and mark them out on a fresh sheet of drywall. You may need sawhorses or a table, and you can use a table saw in place of a circular saw if you have one. A yardstick or straight piece of wood can help you to make straight lines on the drywall. Once you’re sure you have marked the correct size, it’s time to cut the drywall patch.
I recommend the SKIL 5180-01 14-Amp, 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw from Amazon. With fifteen percent less weight than similar saws, you won’t get fatigued as quickly running this tool, yet it’s just as powerful. The included twenty-tooth carbide blade will go through drywall like a hot knife in butter. Plus, the upgraded blower helps keep your line of cut sawdust free as you work. See the outstanding Reviews when you click here.
Now that you have a patch place it in the hole you made in your damaged drywall. An extra pair of hands will help, but if you’re working alone, you can usually balance the bottom of the patch along the base of your cut as you add screws. Using your screw gun or cordless screwdriver, you need to fasten the drywall to the exposed wall studs. Be careful not to drive the screws in too deep, or you may cause more wall bulging in the future.
A Juemel 20V Cordless Drill Driver Kit from Amazon comes with a hundred pieces, including screws, battery, charger, and a case for easy carrying. The built-in LED helps you see what you’re doing more easily. Moreover, the keyless chuck makes it fast and straightforward to change tips. The magnetic bit holder on this lightweight drill also helps prevent dropping the pieces you need. Have a Jumel delivered to your door by clicking here.
When your patch is firmly in place, grab the drywall tape. You should cover the seams all the way around your patch. Doing this gives you a solid surface to apply your putty, so you aren’t mashing it into the cracks and wasting extra putty.
Use your putty knife to spread joint compound over the seams and patch. You’ll need to let this dry so you can come back later with the sandpaper to smooth it out. Once you’ve sanded everything flush, then you can repaint, and your wall is as good as new.
You Will Need
Below is a list of all the materials you will need to repair your bulging drywall. You may also want to use gloves and some form of cover for your clothing since the process is a mess, and you will get dust all over. Additionally, some people prefer to wear a mask. Because drywall can contain fiberglass, you should exercise all due caution.
- Circular Saw– This is for cutting the drywall.
- Drop Cloth– Protecting your floor and furniture from drywall dust is important.
- Drill– You will need this to make holes around the damage.
- Drywall Panel- Depending on how much of a bulge you have, you may need more than one panel.
- Drywall Screws– Get the right screws for the job to avoid problems later.
- Drywall Tape– This tape is made to cover seams between panels, and it will help hold the patch in place as you finish up with your putty.
- Joint Compound- Spread this over your patch and around the seams to fill them in.
- Pencil– You can use this to mark where you will drill to cut out the bulge.
- Putty Knife– A good putty knife helps you smooth your joint compound, so you don’t create ripples and small bulges.
- Reciprocating Saw– You will use this to remove the bulge. Be careful not to cut into the framework behind the panel.
- Safety Glasses– Eye protection is vital when you are working with drywall. You don’t want this dust in your eyes.
- Sandpaper– Once your joint compound is dry, you need to sand it, so it’s flush with the wall.
- Screw Gun– Using a screw gun to drive in your drywall screws helps prevent you from going too deep and too fast.
- Tape Measure– This speaks for itself. You use it to measure how much you need to remove and what size replacement panel you will need. Remember always to measure twice.
There is a number on the side of your tape measure that tells you exactly how long the tape measure itself is. This is useful for measuring small areas or places where there’s a corner, and you need precise inside dimensions. Don’t fold your tape, just place the tape measure flush against a corner and add that number to however many inches you pull out.
Once you are done making your repairs, you will also probably want to repaint. Leave your drop cloth in place, and coat the wall in primer using a paint roller. Once this is dry, you can easily repaint to match your walls.
Please be aware that drywall dust is hard on washing machines. You’ll want to take your repair clothing outside and beat it like a rug to get as much off as possible before you wash. Additionally, some people prefer to use a bucket and hand wash clothing used for this sort of work either instead of or before putting it in a standard washer and dryer. Make sure to dust yourself off as well before getting in the shower. Drywall plus water makes a paste that can harden and stick easily.
Some apparent wall bulges can also be the result of moisture trapped inside badly applied paint or even sub-par hole patches that have been painted over. In these cases, the fix is a little different. However, most interior wall bulging comes from the problems described in this article.
Smooth, straight walls aren’t just visually appealing. They are also necessary to the stability of your home, and bulges indicate that something is very wrong. Never ignore a misshapen wall because it could be a legitimate structural issue that needs immediate addressing.
Though some fixes are certainly easier than others, you can always repair a bulging wall. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get a professional assessment if you need more information.