Drywall Screws: a Comprehensive Guide

If you have an older house and find walls that have mysterious circular bumps, then you have what are called nail-pops. Back in the "old days," drywall (also known as wallboard) was nailed into place with short, wide-head nails.

While drywall nails are still around, drywall screws have evolved as the standard method of attaching drywall to studs precisely because of that problem.  They never pop out. 

  • 01 of 06

    Which One Should You Use?

    Drywall Screw
    Drywall Screw. Getty / Difydave

    Is there a universal drywall screw for all needs?  

    No.  If there were, then Grip-Rite, ​a major manufacturer of drywall fasteners, would not carry over 90 drywall screws, from 1" to 6", in a variety of gauges and coatings.

    But if you were pressed on the issue, you could say that it is this one:

    The phosphate coated, coarse thread 1 5/8" drywall screw. It fixes up to 1/2" wallboard securely onto studs, but without too much extra screw to drive it. It is cheap and can be bought in...MORE big tubs.

    Buy on Amazon - Grip-Rite 1-5/8-Inch #6 Coarse Thread Drywall Screw with Bugle Head, 1 Pound

  • 02 of 06

    Common Sizes

    Drywalled room in home
    Steven Puetzer/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Common lengths:

    • 1 1/8"
    • 1 5/8"
    • 2"
    • 3"
    • 4"

    Common sizes:

    • #6 - 0.1380 inch
    • #8 - 0.1640 inch
  • 03 of 06

    Threads:  Coarse vs. Fine

    Drywall Screws
    Drywall Screws. Getty / Burazin

    Coarse or fine thread drywall screws? You will find that coarse thread drywall screws work best for most applications.  The wide threads practically suck the drywall against the studs.  One downside of the coarse screws are the metal burrs than embed in your fingers like thorns.

    But fine thread drywall screws have their place, too, especially when installing on metal studs.

  • 04 of 06

    Screwgun vs. Cordless Drill?

    DeWalt Cordless Drill 1500 x 1000
    DeWalt Cordless Drill. CC-Licensed; Flickr User Robert S. Donovan

    As a DIY'er or casual drywall installer, you will not need a drywall screwgun. You can use a regular cordless drill.

    A drywall screwgun is a specialty tool used for hanging drywall. They are more compact, lighter, and have lower torque than cordless drills.While screwguns do a fantastic job of driving drywall screws, they have such limited functionality for homeowners that purchase is unnecessary.  

    If your cordless drill does not have adjustable speed and a clutch so that you can vary torque,...MORE then you will need to purchase one with these features. The ability to lower torque with the clutch prevents you from stripping the screwhead, otherwise known as "camming out."

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Can You Use Drywall Screws For Building Purposes?

    Are drywall screws the new duct tape?  Can they be used for purposes other than hanging drywall?  There are two ways to look at this issue:

    Why You Should Not Use Them

    Conventional wisdom says that you should not use drywall screws for building.  Drywall screws are designed for hanging drywall.  

    There are many arguments against using drywall screws for building projects:

    • Drywall screws tend to be brittle; rather than bending, they can snap.  
    • Heads are especially prone to cleanly breaking off,...MORE leaving the shaft section embedded in your wood.  No screw extractor can remove a headless screw.  
    • They do not work for outdoor building.

    No woodworker would ever use drywall screws for fine building.  Avoidance of drywall screws is especially important with heavy or even moderate building tasks, especially outdoor projects like the pictured fence-building job.

    Why They Are Fine To Use

    Viewing this from an overall cost-benefit perspective, drywall screws can be used for light indoor building projects.

    • They are cheap and easy to find.
    • They draw into the wood easily.
    • The redundant nature of using multiple fasteners means that the potential for 100% failure is almost non-existent.  
  • 06 of 06


    What does "bugle head" mean?

    Bugle head refers to the cone-like shape of the screw head. This shape helps the screw stay in place, without tearing all the way through the outer paper layer.

    Some drywall screws say "sharp point." Do I need this?

    Yes, most drywall screws have this now. It makes it easier to stab the screw into the drywall paper and get the screw started.

    How many drywall screws in a pound?

    This depends on the type of screw, but 1 5/8" coarse thread #6 screws will...MORE yield about 200 per pound.

    What type of drill-driver bit should I use?

    Generally a #2 Phillips.

    Why are drywall screws black?

    Black drywall screws have a phosphate coating to resist corrosion.  

    Some have a thin vinyl coating that make them even more corrosion-resistant and which make them easier to draw in because the shanks are slippery.