How to Hang Drywall & How Many Screws?

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Hang drywall panels with drywall screws.
Hang drywall panels with drywall screws. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

After the contractor frames the walls with dimensional studs, he hangs large panels of drywall to form a smooth wall surface. Drywall screws, with their trumpet-shaped heads, securely attach the panels to the wall studs. While hanging drywall isn’t complicated, the large sheets of compressed gypsum are heavy and unwieldy, requiring a minimum of two workers to install. Standard drywall-hanging techniques will help you get the job done.

Things You'll Need

  • Drywall panels
  • Screw gun
  • Drywall screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Utility knife
  • Drywall lift (for ceilings)

Install drywall panels on the ceiling before installing them on the walls in new construction. This gives you a smooth and uniform line where the walls meet the ceiling.

Break drywall panels on the centers of studs. This means that the edges of every drywall panel must extend to the center of a wall stud or ceiling joist. You will measure the distance from stud to stud before installing a panel and cut the panel, if necessary, to fit.

Hang the largest drywall panels you can safely manage. Drywall panels are 4-feet wide and come in various lengths, from 8 feet to 14 feet. The longer the panels, the less taping is required to finish the wall.

Cut drywall panels with a utility knife by scoring the front side in a straight line and then snapping the panel backward to break along the scored line. Then, cut the connecting back paper with the utility knife.

Lift overhead panels with a drywall lift. Available from construction rental stores, a lift will raise a single sheet of drywall, but you will still have to position it and attach it to the ceiling joists.

Snug drywall panels tightly together before inserting the screws to reduce taping. Large gaps between panels require more joint compound and increase the risk of unsightly seams.

Use screws designed for drywall installation. Bryan Tradem, author of “Working With Drywall,” recommends using Type S drywall screws to attach standard ½-inch drywall panels. Use Type W drywall screws to install 5/8-inch panels. Use trimhead screws to attach drywall to metal studs and use self-tapping screws to install drywall to steel framing.

Insert screws with a screw gun or a 3/8-inch drill. Space drywall screws approximately 12 inches apart when installing drywall on standard wood studs and metal studs on walls and ceilings. If you use drywall adhesive, you may reduce the number of screws to one every 16 inches.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're reading manufacturer instructions and it says to install the screws 12" O.C., that means 12 inches apart. O.C. stands for "on center," meaning the center of the stud.
  • Your wall is only as good as your ability to tape it out smoothly.
  • For safety, use scaffolding, instead of a ladder, when hanging drywall overhead.

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