What Size Screws to Hang Drywall?

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Not all screws are suitable for hanging drywall panels.
Not all screws are suitable for hanging drywall panels. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Drywall panels offer a smooth wall surface after you fill and smooth the seams with joint compound. During the installation of the panels, you’ll insert screws through the panels and into the wall studs beneath. The size and type of screws you use should not only secure the panels; they should create a slight dimple in the panel’s paper face, without tearing the paper.

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What are Drywall Screws?

Drywall screws are slightly different from regular screws, although to the untrained eye, the only noticeable difference may be that the screws are black. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that the head of the screw features a small trumpet shape. The screws come with phosphate coating and coarse threading to enable the screw to grip the inner gypsum material in the drywall panel.

Screw Length

Bryan Tradem, author of “Working With Drywall,” recommends using a drywall screw that sinks at least five-eighths of an inch into the wall studs.

Traditional drywall screws come in two lengths, 1 3/8 inch and 1 5/8 inch. The shorter screw is fine when you’re installing thinner quarter-inch drywall panels. For half-inch and five-eighths-inch drywall panels, use the longer, 1 5/8-inch screw.

Metal Stud Framing

In commercial construction and some residential construction, framers use metal studs to build the structural walls. When installing the drywall panels, use metal drywall screws that penetrate the metal by at least three-eighths of an inch.

Special Drywall Screws

If you’re hanging drywall in wet areas and you’re installing moisture-resistant drywall panels, Tradem recommends using galvanized drywall screws to prevent corrosion.

If you’re hanging drywall that contains cement, use self-tapping cement board screws.

In some instances, you may need to install a double layer of drywall. If this is the case, use regular drywall screws to secure the first layer. Switch to Type W drywall screws, which are longer, for the second layer.

Installation Tips

You can simplify drywall installation by using a drywall screwgun, or by using a regular drill with a drywall bit. Both of these tools feature a small “shoulder” that prevents the heads of the drywall screws from going too deeply into the panel. Called “dimpling,” the idea is to sink the head of the screw just below the panel surface, but not so deep that it tears the paper facing.

References

  • “Working With Drywall”; Bryan Tradem; 2009
  • “Ultimate Guide to Drywall: Pro Tips for Hanging and Finishing”; John D. Wagner; 2006
  • Ace Hardware: Installing Drywall
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