Drywall Screws and Fasteners

Learn which fasteners are compatible with drywall before you shop

Drywall Screws and Fasteners

When it comes to working with drywall, not all fasteners are created equal. Because of the properties that make up drywall, it is important to use screws that provide a strong, long-lasting hold and allow for the appropriate amount of countersinking.

This guide will provide key information on the types of nails, screws and other fasteners that work well on drywall installations.

Nails

There are three types of nails that are compatible with drywall:  

  • Drywall nails feature a ringed or barbed shank that affords greater holding power.
  • Cement-coated nails have a smooth shank that is coated with resin to increase holding power.
  • Cupped-head nails feature a rounded head that is easier to countersink for a smooth finish.
  • Remember to drive the nails slightly below the surface, and then use joint tape or compound to cover the heads.

Screws

Screws provide a stronger hold, but cost a bit more than nails and usually feature a Phillips head. 

  • Coarse drywall screws feature coarse threads to secure gypsum board to studs.
  • Fine drywall screws feature smaller heads and are used to secure drywall to metal studs.
  • Self-drilling and pan-head screws can be used with metal studs or frames.
  • Trim-head screws are used to attach wood trim over gypsum boards.
  • Screws can be driven in with a drill or electric drywall screw gun.

Fastener Description Benefits and Uses

Cement-Coated Smooth Nail

Smooth surface coated with resin

  • Resin coating provides greater holding power
  • Used to secure gypsum wallboard to wood framing

Coarse Drywall Screws

Large, coarse threads

  • Used to secure gypsum board to wood framing
  • Large threads provide strong holding power

Cupped-Head Nail

Small, rounded head

  • Used to secure drywall to wood framing
  • Cupped head allows for easier countersinking

Drywall Nail

Ringed shank and a large head

  • Used to secure gypsum wallboard to wood framing
  • Ringed shank provides greater holding power
  • A/T drywall nails are sterilized to protect against dirt and oil

Fine Drywall Screws

Sharp points and smaller, fine threads

  • Used to secure drywall to 20-25 gauge steel
  • Sharp point allows for easy penetration
  • Fine threads provide strong hold

Pan-Head Framing Screws

Short shank and a large head

  • Used to attach steel studs to a steel track
  • Ideally suited for use with 20-25 gauge steel

Self-Drilling Drywall Screws

Long shank with fine threads

  • Used to attach drywall to 12-20 gauge steel
  • Fine threads provide strong hold

Installation Considerations

To properly secure drywall, the right number of fasteners should be used. Check for local building codes before starting your drywall project to find out about the requirements for your area.

  • When working with ½-inch drywall panels, use 1 ¼ 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.
  • In most cases, securing drywall will require fewer screws than nails.
  • Double-nailing panels will help minimize the occurrence of nail pops.
  • Nails should only be used with wood studs while screws can be used with wood and metal.