Basics of Sheetrock Screws and Drywall Screws - Drywall Insider (2022)

Sheetrock screws, also known as drywall screws, are the industry standard for fastening drywall sheets to ceiling joists or wall studs. Between the threads, lengths, numbers, gauges, heads, and points, deciphering what type of drywall screws to use may seem impossible.

In reality, the wide array of sheetrock screws available for purchase can be narrowed down to a few options that cover most drywall screw uses. A basic understanding of the main features and specific purposes of drywall screws will provide enough know-how to get started on any drywall-fastening project. These main features are the drywall screw length, drywall screw threads, and drywall screw gauges.

Sheetrock Screw Length

The first factor to consider when purchasing sheetrock screws is the screw length. The correct drywall screw length depends on the type of material being used. For general construction, screws can be up to 8 inches long for use in thicker materials. Since drywall is so thin, 8-inch screws won’t be used, but the thickness of the drywall still determines drywall screw length. The rule of thumb for screw length is:

For ¼ inch drywall, use 1-inch to 1 ¼-inch sheetrock screws.

For ½-inch drywall, use 1 ¼-inch to 1 ⅝-inch sheetrock screws.

For ⅝-inch drywall, use 1 ⅝-inch to 2-inch sheetrock screws.

Different thicknesses of drywall panels serve different purposes, so purchase a longer drywall screw in lengths appropriate for your project.

Basics of Sheetrock Screws and Drywall Screws - Drywall Insider (1)

The most common drywall thickness for residential housing is ½-inch, which can be used for most purposes. ⅝-inch drywall is used for increased soundproofing and for meeting certain fire codes in commercial buildings, as ⅝-inch thick type-x drywall stunts fire spread. Thicker drywall requires different sheetrock screws, so be sure you know the drywall thickness prior to buying your screws.

(Video) How to Properly Install Drywall Screws

¼-inch drywall is thin and flexible and therefore often used to cover curved areas like dish-shaped ceilings. Another option is to use drywall nails, but of course, you would need to be sure these are allowable for your application.

Sheetrock Screw Threads

Drywall screw threads can be broken down into two types, each of which serves different purposes: coarse and fine.

Coarse Thread Sheetrock Screws

Coarse thread drywall screws, or w-type screws, are best used when fastening drywall to wood studs. The wider, deeper threads get a better grip on the wood grain, allowing for a more secure pull on the drywall against the wood stud.

However, be forewarned. Since the coarse-thread screws have wider threads, the larger burrs are sharp and can embed themselves into fingers. It’s best practice to wear gloves when working with coarse thread wood screws and drywall screws.

Fine Thread Sheetrock Screws

Fine thread drywall screws are used primarily when working with metal studs. These screws are self-threading, meaning the sharp threads surrounding the screw are able to efficiently cut their own secure path into the material (in this case, metal).

Fine thread sheetrock drywall screws, or s-type screws, are used for metal studs as opposed to coarse-threaded ones because the coarser threads less effectively drill into metal, oftentimes chewing it up, resulting in a weaker hold.

On the other hand, the finer threads on these screws mean they have less surface area to grip wood grains, which is why coarse threads work better when working with wood studs.

Drywall Screw Gauges

The third main factor when determining which type of screw to purchase is the drywall screw gauge.

Gauge is a fancy word that simply refers to the diameter of the sheetrock screw.

(Video) How to Use Drywall Screws | The Home Depot

For the majority of applications, #6 or #8 drywall screws are going to be used. It’s important to keep in mind that, unlike some other construction materials, drywall screws get thicker when the numbers get higher. Therefore, a #8 drywall screw is thicker than a #6.

The actual diameters of the screws are:

  • 0.138 inches for #6 screws
  • 0.164 inches for #8 screws

Different gauges are used for different-sized studs. In the case of drywall screws though, it should be fine to use either #6 or #8 screws in most applications.

When looking to purchase sheetrock screws, the gauge is often listed as a number after the screw length. For instance, a 1 ¼-inch screw with a #8 gauge might be listed as “1 ¼-inch x 8.”

Another option for drywall and sheetrock screws is to use stainless steel. These screws are much tougher because of their high tensile strength and high corrosion resistance. Stainless steel sheetrock screws also have high creep rupture strength because of the added chromium and nickel to the allow. This additional strength might make stainless steel sheetrock screws a better choice.

There are also black drywall and sheetrock screws, which have a black phosphate coating that keeps the wet drywall compound from rusting the screw head.

Other Drywall Screw Terminology

The above three factors are the main pieces of terminology that you’d likely run into when learning about sheetrock screws.

Delving into the terminology and features of drywall fastening can be overwhelming at first, but as shown above, understanding drywall screws isn’t too complicated.

(Video) How to Install Drywall to a Wall With Screws : Wall Repair

However, you may have seen some other terms like “sharp point” and “bugle head” which are just as easy to understand.

Bugle Head Sheetrock Screws

Drywall screws called “bugle screws” or “bugle head screws” refer to the shape of the screw’s head which is specifically designed for drywall application.

The bugle head design distributes stress over a much wider area than flat-head screws are able to by creating its own countersunk hole when screwed in.

Basically, the bugle head is great at securing the screw in place without tearing up the drywall paper and is great at being screwed flush with the material itself.

Sharp Point

“Sharp point” can seem like a redundant term for a screw since most do come to, well, a sharp point.

However, screws that specify they have a sharp point refer to their ability to self-tap. “Tapping” or a self-drilling drywall screw refers to initially piercing a material, like a wood stud, to give a screw a starting point to drill into.

Sharp point and self-tapping, or self-drilling screws have sharper points, making it much easier to stab into the drywall and get started for a quicker and more secure connection.

Using Sheetrock Screws

With a rudimentary understanding of the features of drywall screws locked down, the struggle now is understanding what type of drywall screws are used when and how many screws are needed for use.

The majority of drywall is sold in 4×8, 4×10, or 4×12 foot panels or sheets which are then secured into wooden or metal studs. Wall studs in homes are usually set 12 to 16-inches apart, so for securing a 4×8 drywall sheet against wall studs, you’d need on average 28 screws. You will always want to refer to your local building code for proper screw patterns and requirements, along with the project’s specifications.

(Video) Where to Put Screws When Hanging Drywall : Drywall Repair & Maintenance

How Many Drywall Screws to Purchase

Because you need a specific amount of screws to safely and securely fasten drywall to studs, purchasing the correct amount of screws is key. However, it can be frustrating to figure out how many drywall screws to buy since they are often sold by the pound.

When purchasing by the pound, the exact number of screws contained is never explicitly said, but there are decent estimates out there:

  • For 1 ⅝-inch coarse thread #6 screws, there are about 200 screws per pound.
  • For 1 ¼-inch coarse thread #6 screws, there are about 238 screws per pound.

A general rule of thumb is that screws get heavier the longer they are and the higher the gauge they have. Longer, higher gauge screws will have fewer screws per pound, so make sure you get enough drywall screws.

What Kind of Drywall Screws to Use

Different types of sheetrock screws are better utilized in different places. As noted above, coarse-thread screws are best used when working with wooden studs. Fine thread drywall screws work best with light metal studs.

Depending on the type of project, either ½-inch drywall or 5/8″ drywall sheets are used so 1 ¼ or 1 ⅝-inch sheetrock screws should be used. These lengths can safely and securely tap through ½-inch or 5/8″ thick drywall with plenty of room to secure themselves inside a wall stud.

The longer the screw or fastener is, the more secure the hold, but the harder it is to drive into the wall. The 1 ⅝-inch sheetrock screw may be a difficult screw to embed since over an inch remains after going through the initial ½-inch of drywall.

The last ¼-inch to ⅛-inch of a drive is critical since the head of the drywall screw needs to crease the drywall paper and embed itself flush. The shorter the drywall screw, the easier it is to align this final drive. But if you drive the screw into the drywall too deep, it will fail to stay securely fastened to the wall.

When To Use and Not Use Drywall Screws

Drywall screws are mainly used when screwing sheets of drywall into wall studs. In this setting, sheetrock screws have become the primary fastener. However, drywall screws have a narrow range of functionality and should only be used for certain projects.

Drywall screws work great with softwood studs, coarse threads granting great grip to the wood grain. Drywall screws can be used for lighter building projects like building cabinets, so long as safety is not a big factor.

(Video) Drywall basics - How To install SCREWS

Safety being a factor is critically important because drywall screws are relatively brittle compared to other types of construction screws. While other regular screws and nails tend to bend, drywall screws are liable to snap. The heads of drywall screws are especially prone to this. While it’s possible to extract bent nails or screws, there’s no way to remove a snapped-off drywall screw shaft from wood boards without pliers, or cutting the screw.

For this reason, drywall screws should never be used for heavy or even moderate building tasks. They should not be exposed to the elements like water or snow, critically never to be used when making outdoor projects like decks or fences. You will want to use a specifically designed deck screw or fence screw for those tasks. Don’t use drywall screws for handrails or stairs as these are weight-bearing functions for which sheetrock screws are not designed.

FAQs

How many screws go into a 4x8 sheet of drywall? ›

Use about 32 drywall screws per sheet of 4-foot by 8-foot drywall installed horizontally on a wall. This total is comprised of four screws on the five middle studs and six screws on each of the two sides.

How deep should drywall screws go into studs? ›

As you finish, the head of the screw should be just barely recessed below the surface, no more than 1/8 inch.

How long should drywall screws be for 1/2 inch drywall? ›

When working with 1/2-inch drywall panels, use 1-1/4 or 1-3/8-inch nails or screws. When working with 5/8-inch drywall panels, use 1-3/8-inch or 1-5/8-inch screws. To properly secure drywall, the right number of drywall fasteners should be used.

How many screws do you put in sheetrock on the ceiling? ›

In standard home construction, about 28 screws are needed to properly attach a 4-by-8-foot piece of drywall. That's if the panel is going on a wall. If it's going on a ceiling, it'll take about 36 screws.

Do you leave a gap between drywall sheets? ›

Cut it to leave about a 1/8-in. gap at edges (right). In fact, when you're hanging the ceiling, keep in mind that 1/2 in. along the perimeter will be covered by drywall on the walls.

How far off the floor should drywall be? ›

When installing drywall, it is important to know that it should be kept about 1/2 to 3/8 inches off the floor. This small gap will ensure that your drywall and the floor have the space to expand and contract when it is screwed onto the studs.

When hanging drywall do you hang the ceiling first? ›

Hanging Drywall From the Top Down

Hang drywall on the ceiling first, then the walls. Check the ceiling for bowed joists using a 4-ft. level. Irregularities less than 1/8 in.

Should I use #6 or #8 drywall screws? ›

In most cases, you will be using either #6 or #8 drywall screws. Keep in mind that as gauge numbers increase, the screw becomes larger in diameter. So, a #6 drywall screw would be thinner than a #8 drywall screw. While this may seem evident, many materials related to home construction work in the opposite direction.

Do you need to pre drill drywall screws? ›

Tools and Materials for Driving Drywall Screws

Drywall screw guns can be pre-set to sink screws at the perfect depth, which greatly simplifies the task. But most homeowners opt to use a tool that they already have on hand: a cordless drill.

Why are my drywall screws popping out? ›

Screws or nails popping out of the wall indicate that the drywall is not properly secured to the frame in that area. Simply screwing or nailing the fasteners back into the wall won't fix the problem. Instead, you need to insert new fasteners in an undamaged spot near the popped fastener to secure the drywall.

Can you use 1/2 inch drywall ceiling? ›

1/2-Inch-Thick Drywall

Half-inch drywall panels are the standard thickness for interior walls, as well as ceilings. These panels are easy to carry and hang.

Is it OK to install drywall vertically? ›

Commercial: Hang the drywall vertically. On commercial jobs, fire codes often require seams to fall on the entire length of the framing, so the drywall must be hung vertically. Residential: How high are the walls? For walls nine feet high or shorter, hanging the drywall horizontally has a number of benefits.

Which way should drywall be hung on ceiling? ›

Hanging drywall perpendicular to the overhead framing members is a good idea for several reasons:
  1. Less-visible seams. A perpendicular orientation allows each sheet of drywall to float over the framing members, making uneven joists or trusses blend in. ...
  2. Structural strength.
Jul 27, 2016

How far apart should screws be in ceiling drywall? ›

Space screws a maximum of 12" apart on ceilings, 16" on walls and at least 3/8" from ends and edges of panels.

Where do you start sheetrock on a ceiling? ›

Hang Drywall on the Ceiling the Right Way - YouTube

What are two common mistakes made during Drywalling? ›

Here are the most common mistakes made by DIYers when installing drywall.
  • Failing to Avoid Hanging Joints.
  • In an ideal situation, the joints between drywall panels are going to fall over the framing members. ...
  • Making the Drywall Joints Too Tight.
  • DIYers often make the drywall joints too tight. ...
  • Sanding Too Much.

Is mesh or paper tape better for drywall? ›

Conclusion. In general, paper drywall tape is slightly stronger and more versatile, but mesh tape has a more manageable learning curve and better moisture resistance. It comes down to personal preference: Use the tape you're most comfortable with.

Should drywall touch the ceiling? ›

Note that drywall on the wall should support the ceiling drywall, meaning you install the ceiling first, and the wall is installed tight against the ceiling. For the bottom piece, you use a roll lifter under the drywall to lift it up and give you a tight fit to the board above it.

Why do you drywall the ceiling first? ›

The primary reason that you want to start with the ceiling pieces first in installing drywall is for additional support. When you attach the ceiling sheets first, you can reinforce them with the wall pieces which will serve as a source of stability.

Should drywall be hung vertically or horizontally? ›

Final Thoughts. In short, drywall should be hung horizontally on residential buildings and vertically on commercial buildings. In the case of either, support beams should always run perpendicular to the wall studs at a distance of 24 inches (61 cm) apart.

Should you stagger drywall seams? ›

Drywall seams should be staggered to make walls stronger and seams less visible since they are often difficult to finish and can be noticeable in the end result. You can stagger seams by placing half the panel on the first row and a full-length panel on the second row and use mud or tape to create a mound over.

What order do you tape drywall seams? ›

The order of taping is the same: Do screw indentations and beveled joints first, inside and outside corners next, and butt joints last. If you use mesh tape on flat joints, note that it's not suitable for corners.

What is the difference between sheetrock and drywall? ›

Drywall is a flat panel made of gypsum plaster sandwiched in between two sheets of thick paper. It adheres to metal or wood studs using nails or screws. Sheetrock is a specific brand of drywall sheet. These terms are often used interchangeably.

What is the best way to cut drywall? ›

How to Cut Drywall Like a Pro - YouTube

How long should a screw be to hit a stud? ›

The screw should go into a WOOD stud a minimum of 3/4” to develop “full strength “. Add 1/2” for gypsum board wallboard (probably) plus the thickness of the backing on the bookcase... probably 1/4”. So, I'd use a screw about 1 1/2” long (#8 screw, but check the length because they come in various lengths.)

How often do you screw drywall? ›

Drywall screws should typically be placed about 12 to 16 inches apart. However, the spacing changes when hanging drywall edges and ceilings.

Can you use gold screws for drywall? ›

The gold screws are just basic construction screws, they are stronger than drywall screws and great for indoor applications. You don't want to use them for drywall though, as the black coating I believe helps stop the drywall screws from rusting or staining. The construction screws will rust.

Should I drill a pilot hole into a stud? ›

If you're hanging shelves or mounting anything heavy to the wall, you'll probably want to mount it directly to the wall studs. However, you should be drilling pilot holes first before driving in any screws.

What drywall thickness should I use? ›

1/2-inch drywall is the most versatile board and the most common thickness for the 16-inch on-center interior walls in most homes. It offers a good balance between strength and weight. 5/8-inch drywall is a heavier product that resists sagging in ceilings and in 24-inch on-center interior walls.

Should you drill a pilot hole in drywall? ›

Installing A Plastic Sleeve Anchor

With a pencil, mark the point where you want to hang whatever it is you're trying to hang. Drill/make a pilot hole. You can use any variety of tools to accomplish this, though you need to make the pilot hole smaller than the width of the anchor.

What happens if drywall screws are too deep? ›

Driving a screw too deep means it will likely penetrate and break this paper-like covering. When this occurs, it makes the screw weaker, which may lead to it popping out. Screws can also pop out of drywall from the constant expansion and contraction of studs.

How do you fix a screw that keeps coming loose in drywall? ›

How To Fix A Pulled Out Or Damaged Drywall Anchor | Toggle Bolts

How do you fix a screw hole that is too big for drywall? ›

All you have to do is fill the hole with a little glue and the appropriately-sized plug or dowel. Let the glue cure for about 24 hours, and then drill a pilot hole into the center of the plug to make room for your new screw.

What are 3 different types of drywall? ›

6 Common types of drywall
  • Regular drywall. Regular drywall, often called white board, is the most common type used in ceilings and walls in homes and commercial projects. ...
  • Mold-resistant drywall. ...
  • Plasterboard. ...
  • Soundproof drywall. ...
  • Fire-resistant drywall. ...
  • VOC-absorbing drywall.
Oct 15, 2021

Can you hang drywall on 24 centers on walls? ›

drywall has always been approved for use on 24-in.

How far can you SPAN 1/2 drywall on ceiling? ›

What is the maximum joist spacing for ceiling drywall? Does it matter if the panels are oriented parallel or perpendicular to the joists? 1/2- or 5/8-inch drywall is 24 inches on-center. Ceiling drywall should always be installed perpendicular to the joists, even when they are 16 inches on-center.

Should there be a gap between drywall and floor? ›

It might sound counter intuitive at first to leave space between your floor and your wall, but you should always leave a ½ inch to ⅝ inch gap between drywall and the floor. There are several reasons for this: Drywall absorbs moisture.

Does drywall have to end on stud? ›

Problem. All edges of all sheets of drywall must land on a solid surface such as a stud. A hanging drywall edge may work in the short-term, but in the long-term it can result in cracks and other serious wall issues.

How do you cut a drywall wall straight? ›

How to Cut and Repair Drywall | The Home Depot - YouTube

Does it matter if you drywall ceiling or walls first? ›

When hanging drywall, always hang the ceiling first. This is the hardest drywall to hang, so get a partner and go slow. Large cracks due to misaligned sheets are hard to repair because the extra mud required to fill them will constantly fall out and drop to the floor (or worse, down the back of your neck!).

How many screws go into a 4x8 sheet of drywall? ›

Use about 32 drywall screws per sheet of 4-foot by 8-foot drywall installed horizontally on a wall. This total is comprised of four screws on the five middle studs and six screws on each of the two sides.

Do you hang drywall top to bottom? ›

How to Hang Drywall - YouTube

What size screws do I use for 1/2 inch Sheetrock? ›

When working with 1/2-inch drywall panels, use 1-1/4 or 1-3/8-inch nails or screws. When working with 5/8-inch drywall panels, use 1-3/8-inch or 1-5/8-inch screws. To properly secure drywall, the right number of drywall fasteners should be used.

How far off the floor should drywall be? ›

When installing drywall, it is important to know that it should be kept about 1/2 to 3/8 inches off the floor. This small gap will ensure that your drywall and the floor have the space to expand and contract when it is screwed onto the studs.

What is the nail pattern for drywall? ›

a. For application without adhesive, a pair of nails spaced not less than 2 inches apart or more than 2 ½ inches apart may be used with the pair of nails spaced 12 inches on center.

How do you finish drywall around a door frame? ›

How to Hang Drywall...Tips for Bathroom Doorways (Step-by-Step)

Can I put too many screws in drywall? ›

Here's five tips: First, do not use too many screws. When fastening drywall to walls I attach the drywall with two fasteners every 16 inches in the field, and one every 16 inches on the edges. Ceilings are fastened 12 inches on center.

How many screws go into a box of drywall? ›

There are approximately 189-200 drywall screws or fasteners of 1 ⅝ inch length in a one-pound package. A five-pound box of 1 ⅝ inch drywall screws will be a total of 945-1,000.

How often should I put screws in drywall? ›

Drywall screws pattern

A general rule of thumb is that drywall screws should be installed every 12 inches. This means that when using 48 inch wide sheets, you will have 5 screws in each stud when the sheets are hung perpendicular to the framing; two on the edges and 3 in the field.

How many screws come in a 4x8 sheet of plywood? ›

How Many Screws in a 4'x8′ Sheet of OSB or Plywood. When securing OSB or plywood subflooring, you should use a screw every 8 inches along the floor joist or truss. So, you'll need 12 screws down the 8-foot length of OSB or plywood.

Why are all my drywall screws popping out? ›

Screws typically pop out of drywall for one of two reasons: they were installed too deep, or the studs have expanded and contracted. If you drive a screw too deep through the drywall and into the stud, it may pop out. As you may know, drywall panels are covered in a thin layer of paper-like material.

Should I use #6 or #8 drywall screws? ›

In most cases, you will be using either #6 or #8 drywall screws. Keep in mind that as gauge numbers increase, the screw becomes larger in diameter. So, a #6 drywall screw would be thinner than a #8 drywall screw. While this may seem evident, many materials related to home construction work in the opposite direction.

Do you drywall ceiling first? ›

Hang drywall on the ceiling first, then the walls. Check the ceiling for bowed joists using a 4-ft. level. Irregularities less than 1/8 in.

Which way do you hang drywall on ceiling? ›

Hang Drywall on the Ceiling the Right Way - YouTube

What is the nail spacing for drywall? ›

a. For application without adhesive, a pair of nails spaced not less than 2 inches apart or more than 2 ½ inches apart may be used with the pair of nails spaced 12 inches on center.

Should I drywall the ceiling before the walls? ›

Yes, you should install drywall on the ceiling before the walls for multiple reasons: The drywall on the walls can support the ceiling pieces. You can create tight and fitted corners more easily. The pieces are easier and faster to work with from the top.

Should you stagger drywall seams? ›

Drywall seams should be staggered to make walls stronger and seams less visible since they are often difficult to finish and can be noticeable in the end result. You can stagger seams by placing half the panel on the first row and a full-length panel on the second row and use mud or tape to create a mound over.

Is it OK to install drywall vertically? ›

Commercial: Hang the drywall vertically. On commercial jobs, fire codes often require seams to fall on the entire length of the framing, so the drywall must be hung vertically. Residential: How high are the walls? For walls nine feet high or shorter, hanging the drywall horizontally has a number of benefits.

Should you glue drywall? ›

It's a simple and inexpensive step to the installation. By applying glue for drywall to the studs or joists before installing the sheet, you cut down the need for screws in the field of the board. You'll also have fewer nail pops and loose boards.

How far apart should screws be in plywood? ›

Generally, nails (6d ring or screw shank, or 8d common) should be spaced 6 inches on center along supported panel edges and 12 inches on center on the panels' interior supports, or as specified on the construction drawings.

Do you screw or nail plywood? ›

To start with, most experts recommend screws over nails when working with plywood. Nevertheless, there are many projects built using nails with plywood. In most cases, the nails used are from a pneumatic finish nailer and are used in conjunction with wood glue.

What is the best screw for plywood? ›

Conventional wisdom has always been that screws with fine threads are best for hardwoods — oak, cherry, maple, birch, etc. — while coarse-threaded screws drive and hold better in softwoods, plywood and composite sheet goods (particleboard, MDF, etc.).

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