How to Find Drywall Screws

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Finding drywall screws on a wall ready for painting takes some effort.
Finding drywall screws on a wall ready for painting takes some effort. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Drywall screws get sunk into the drywall so you can apply mud and then sand the wall to create a smooth finish ready for paint. Finding those metal drywall screws later becomes almost impossible. If you need to find one of the hidden screws, rather than tearing up the entire wall, try using a device to find the studs and screws at the right point on the wall. Since the studs remain evenly spaced on the wall, finding the stud helps get the process started.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnet
  • Electronic stud finder
  • Flashlight

Use the electronic stud finder to identify the placement of the studs in the wall in which you need to find the drywall screws. Most studs are set 16 to 24 inches apart. The stud finder beeps when it finds a stud.

Run a magnet up and down the length of the stud, starting several inches in from the edge of the stud. Next, move over 16 to 24 inches to the next stud to find the next row of screws. Move the magnet slowly along the wall until you find the screws you want.

Verify the placement of the screws, using a flashlight to identify any small indentations where the screws were sunk into the wall. You may not see any indentations if the wall was recently plastered. However, you may see tiny sunken holes on older walls that have experienced a bit of settling.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose a powerful magnet to make finding the drywall screws easier and more obvious. You can also buy a magnetic stud finder to locate the screws.
  • If you do not own a stud finder, look for an electrical outlet on the wall. Outlets are usually mounted along a stud.
  • Tapping on the wall with your knuckles sometimes indicates the location of a stud. When you tap on the stud, you'll hear a thud that seems duller and denser than the area of the wall without the stud.
  • When you use a magnet to find the studs, the magnet may find piping, metallic cables and nails and screws not related to the drywall, so find the row of screws to make sure you've found the correct location on the wall.

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