Have you wondered how to install drywall? It involves using a whole host of tools. Fortunately, when it comes to anchoring drywall to studs, it’s back to the basics. With just a few screws, nails, a hammer and a drill, you’ll be able to achieve beautiful results. Not all nails and screws, however, are appropriate for use on drywall. There are a number of fasteners specially designed for use on drywall that will provide a strong hold while allowing for easy countersinking. Motivated do-it-yourselfers should have little trouble tracking down the pieces they need and securing them in place. Consider the following questions to determine the best fasteners for your next drywall project:
• What types of nails can be used on drywall?
• What types of screws can be used on drywall?
• Which fasteners are best for wooden studs? Which are better on metal?
• How can you successfully repair “nail pops?"
• What tools will assist you in securing fasteners properly?
Nails, Screws and Installation Considerations
It may seem an obvious point, but the most important function of drywall fasteners is to keep drywall in place without popping back out. This, however, is sometimes easier said than done. If you use nails and screws that are not designated for drywall use, you’ll find them popping back up left and right. Even when you use appropriate fasteners, this phenomenon can sometimes occur. Therefore, it’s important to know which fasteners provide the best hold, how you can enhance the strength of that hold using adhesive and how you can quickly and easily repair the problem if it should occur.
Nails: There are three commonly found types of nails used for securing drywall. Nails are used to secure drywall only to wooden studs. Drywall nails have a ringed or barbed shank that gives them greater holding power once they’re driven in. Cement-coated drywall nails have a smooth shank, but they are coated with resin to increase their holding power. Cupped-head nails feature a rounded head that’s easier to countersink, helping you achieve a smooth finish. Nails should be hammered in until they are slightly below the surface, or dimpled. Once this is accomplished, use joint tape and compound to cover the indentations.
• Drywall nails have large heads to make striking easier
• Phosphate coating helps nails resist corrosion and allows paint to adhere more easily
• Use a drywall hammer to countersink nails without tearing the paper
• Annular-ring nails work well when installing drywall on ceilings
Screws: Nails do a good job of keeping drywall in place, but screws provide an even more secure hold, though they do cost a little bit more. Coarse drywall screws feature coarse threads and are used to secure gypsum board to wood. Fine drywall screws, on the other hand, feature smaller threads and are used to attach drywall to metal studs. Self-drilling drywall screws and pan-head framing screws are also used when working with metal studs or frames. Because they don’t require pounding, screws are less likely to damage the surface during insertion and, when working with soft woods, they are often self-countersinking.
• Screws may be used to fasten drywall to both wooden and metal studs
• Can be driven in with a drill or electric drywall screw gun
• Trim-head screws are used to attach wood trim over single or double layers of gypsum boards to either
wood or steel stud
• Most drywall screws feature a Phillips head
Benefits and Uses
|Cement-Coated Smooth Nail||Feature a smooth surface coated with resin.||• Resin coating provides greater holding
• Used to secure gypsum wallboard to
|Coarse Drywall Screws||Feature large, coarse threads.||• Used to secure gypsum board to wood
• Large threads provide strong holding
|Cupped-Head Nail||Feature a small, rounded head.||• Used to secure drywall to wood framing
• Cupped head allows for easier
|Drywall Nail||Feature a ringed shank and a large head.
||• Used to secure gypsum wallboard to
• Ringed shank provides greater holding
• A/T drywall nails are sterilized to protect
against dirt and oil
|Fine Drywall Screws||Feature sharp points and smaller, fine threads.||• Used to secure drywall to 20-25 gauge
• Sharp point allows for easy penetration
• Fine threads provide strong hold
|Pan-Head Framing Screws||Feature a short shank and a large head.||• Used to attach steel studs to a steel
• Ideally suited for use with 20-25 gauge
|Self-Drilling Drywall Screws||Feature a long shank with fine threads.||• Used to attach drywall to 12-20 gauge
• Fine threads provide strong hold
Installation Considerations: In order to properly secure drywall, you’ll need to use the right number of fasteners. Some municipalities have building codes that dictate the exact number of screws or nails that should be used, so make sure to consult local codes before beginning your project. If you’re using nails, you may experience a few nail pops. Nail pops occur when wooden studs lose moisture and shrink slightly, exposing nails (and, on occasion, screws) and causing them to pop out slightly. When this happens, drive a nail or screw just above or below the one that’s popped out to secure the drywall. You can then either remove or reinsert the popped fastener, depending on the circumstances. Afterward, use joint compound to repair the hole or dimple and cover with tape.
• When working with 1/2" drywall, use 1-1/4" or 1-3/8" nails
• When working with 5/8" drywall, use 1-3/8" or 1-5/8" nails
• In most cases, securing drywall will require fewer screws than nails
• Double-nailing panels will help minimize the occurrence of nail pops
• Nails can be used on wooden studs while screws can be used on wood and metal.
Drywall Hammer: In order to achieve a smooth finish on your drywall, you need to drive nails in properly by pounding them in just below the surface without tearing the paper. This can be extremely difficult with a regular hammer. A drywall hammer has a rounded head that allows you to countersink nails with ease without marring the surface of the wall.
Electric Drywall Screw Gun: Just as nails must be properly inserted for drywall to have a smooth, flawless finish, so too must screws be driven in correctly. If you have a big job to do, a cordless electric drywall screw gun will be highly useful. While an electric drill will certainly get the job done, a screw gun has an adjustable nosepiece that regulates depth, allowing for accurate insertion every time. Some are even self-feeding.
Drywall Adhesive: One way to help minimize nail pops and other fastening issues is to use drywall adhesive in conjunction with nails or screws. This sticky substance can be used to glue down the center of the drywall, meaning that nails and screws only need to hold down the edges.