Buying Guide

Best Drywall Screws and Nails for Your Projects

Drywall Nails
A pile of drywall nails with ringed shanks.

There are three types of nails that work 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. 


Drywall nails are typically less expensive than drywall screws. For small projects, you’ll likely find that drywall nails work just as well as screws and are most cost-effective. Nails work best for wall installations, rather than ceiling installations.  


Tip: Remember to drive the nails slightly below the surface, and then use joint tape or compound to cover the heads. 

Drywall Screws
A pile of coarse drywall screws.

There are four types of drywall screws, which all serve different purposes:

  

  • Coarse drywall screws feature coarse threads to secure drywall boards to studs. 
  • Fine drywall screws feature smaller heads and are used to secure drywall to metal studs. 
  • Self-drilling screws and pan-head screws can be used with metal studs or frames. 
  • Trim-head screws are used to attach wood trim over drywall boards.  


Drywall screws provide a stronger hold, but cost a bit more than nails. When choosing drywall screws vs. nails, consider the size of your project and the materials you’ll be using. Use screws instead of nails when you are working on a ceiling installation or working with metal studs or frames. 


Tip: Screws can be driven in with a drill or electric drywall screw gun. They usually feature a Phillips head. 

Fastener Types
Description Feature/Benefits
Smooth Shank - Nails Cement-coated nails that have a smooth surface coated with resin. Resin coating provides greater holding power. Used to secure gypsum wallboard to wood framing.
Coarse - Drywall Screws Screws with large, coarse threads. Used to secure gypsum board to wood framing. Large threads provide strong holding power.
Black - Drywall Nails Cupped-head nails that have a small, rounded head. Used to secure drywall to wood framing. Cupped head allows for easier countersinking.
Drywall Nails Nails with a 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 Screws with sharp points and small, fine threads. Used to secure drywall to 20-25 gauge steel. Sharp point allows for easy penetration. Fine threads provide strong hold.
Pan - Screws Pan-head framing screws that have a 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 Screws with a long shank with fine threads. Used to attach drywall to 12-20 gauge steel. Fine threads provide strong hold.
deck screws Screws with a flat, countersunk surface, tapered shank and sharp threads. Design helps eliminate the risk of splitting, cracking or weakening. Shank is designed for long-term durability.
Drywall Screws vs. Wood Screws
A wood screw being screwed into wood on the left and a drywall screw being drilled into drywall on the right.

When choosing a drywall screw vs. wood screw, keep in mind that screws are named for the material they're intended for. So a drywall screw would be used for drywall, while a wood screw would be used for wood. While drywall screws are typically made of steel, wood screws are a combination of materials including steel. 


Wood screws come in various head styles, while a drywall screw has a bulge or flat head. Most drywall screws are self-starting due to their sharp, hard tips and can be screwed directly into the material with a drill or screwdriver. Some wood screws are self-starting, but most require a pilot hole before being drilled into the material.  

Drywall Anchor Types
Five hollow wall anchors.

An anchor is used to fasten or attach an item to a specific surface. There are certain types of anchors used for these surfaces.

  

  • Masonry and concrete anchors are used for harder-to-pierce walls, such as walls made of concrete, brick or mortar (also known as masonry). 
  • Hollow and drywall anchors are used on surfaces that are either hollow or more fragile. For example, doors, ceilings or drywall itself.  


It's important you find the correct anchor for any specific surface. Otherwise, the anchor may loosen over time and cause unwanted damage. 

Installation Considerations
A person drilling into unfinished drywall.
  • When determining what size screws for drywall you need, take into account the thickness of the drywall panels. 
  • 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. Check for local building codes before starting your drywall project to find out about the requirements for your area.  
  • 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. Screws can be used with either wood or metal studs. 

Now that you know the types of drywall screws, nails and fasteners that are available, you can make the right choice for your project. Ready to find the best drywall screws and nails for your needs? Use The Home Depot Mobile App to locate products and check inventory.