What Type of Screw Do You Use for Drywall?


Over the last century, drywall has become the material of choice for interior walls and ceilings, mainly because it is more affordable than the alternatives and relatively easy to install. For many who want to carry out one DIY project or the other with this material, knowing the correct type of screw to use can be confusing.

The right type of screw to use for drywall is known as a “drywall screw.” You can identify drywall screws by their threading depths and heads, which are shaped like a bugle’s bell end. However, there are different variations of these screws. Which type to use depends on the project.

Since knowing which drywall screw to use at any time will depend on the details of the project you work on, we’ll take some time to discuss the different types of drywall screws. We’ll also look at choosing the right screw for your project and tips for using them effectively.

Understanding the Different Types of Drywall Screws

Depending on the project you are working on, there are different types of drywall screws that you can choose from. While they generally have deeper or shallower threads, some other characteristics also differentiate them. 

Some of the significant points of difference include the following:

  • Length
  • Pitch
  • Gauge

Length

This is self-explanatory as it simply refers to the length of the screw. Unlike other screws used in construction, drywall screws are usually much shorter. That is because drywalls are generally not so thick, with the standard width being ½ inch (1.27 cm). Most drywall screws come in lengths between 1 and 2 inches (2.54 – 5.08 cm).

Pitch

The pitch of a drywall screw refers to the distance between the threads. The two most common types are loosely referred to as fine and coarse. The screw with fine or closer threading is also known as the S-type. 

On the other hand, the screw with coarse or wider spaced threading is the W-type.

Gauge

The gauge of any screw refers to its diameter. This measurement is usually measured from the part of the screw that is not threaded. This part is also known as the shank.

A screw’s gauge is typically a number, with the smaller numbers indicating a smaller size and the bigger number indicating a larger diameter. While numbers 6 and 8 are the most common gauge sizes, gauge sizes 7 and 10 are also quite common.

Choosing the Right Drywall Screw for Your Project

Knowing the different types of drywall screws is just one-half of the puzzle. The next half is knowing which type is suitable for the project you are working on.

Since we now know the characteristics that differentiate the different types of drywall screws, we will look at how to know which to choose at any time based on the differences we discussed above.

Length

When considering the right length, the first thing to consider is the size of the drywall you are using. 

Since most drywall has a thickness of between ¼ inch (.64 cm) and 5/8 inch (1.6 cm), use the following chart as a guide:

Sheet Width Screw Length 
¼ inches (.64 cm)1 ¼ inch (3.18 cm)
½ inches (1.27 cm)1 ¼ to 1 ⅝ inch (3.18 to 4.14 cm)
⅝ inches (1.6 cm)1 ⅝  to 2  inches (3.18 to 5.08 cm)

Therefore, you must ensure that you know the size of the drywall sheet you want to use so you can get the right length of screws. If you have multiple layers to screw through, you want to ensure that the screw can reach a ½-inch (1.27-cm) depth in the last layer.

Pitch

The next important consideration factor is the pitch of the screw. I’ve already explained the two main types – the coarse (W-type) and the fine (S-type).

If you will be attaching your drywall to wooden studs, then your best bet is the W-type. The threading on this type of drywall screw is wider, which helps the screw grip the wooden stud better, giving it a firmer hold.

If attaching the drywall to metal studs, you should choose S-type screws. These have finer threading with a sharp tip that easily cuts into the metal stud. This sharpness is why you will find that the S-type screw is sometimes described as a self-threading screw.

Gauge

The two common gauges you’ll find are #6 and #8, and these sizes are suitable for any drywall application. When choosing a gauge, the most significant factor to consider is the size of your stud and how much weight you plan to put on the screw. 

Additional Instructional Tips

Aside from all I’ve discussed above, there are other important things to note about correctly using drywall screws.

Let’s briefly look at some quick tips to help you get the best from your drywall and the drywall screws.

Using a Screw Gun

There are specialized drywall screw guns that you may find contractors using. However, a home user can use any regular screw gun so long as you can lower the torque. You do not need the same high torque level as standard screw guns.

Before you begin to drive the screw, it is crucial that you first pierce the drywall with the tip of the screw. Once the screw is about ¾ of the way in, you may need to apply more force until the head of the screw is level with the drywall. Give it a little more drive so the head sinks below the top layer of the drywall, giving you a flush surface.

Spacing the Screws

There’s no one-size-fits-all measurement for screw spacing. Different professionals have their preferences. However, you can start with this guide: use 36 screws for each 4 feet x 8 feet (1.22 x 2.44 meters) panel.

For the side of the panel at the edge of the wall, attach a screw every 8 inches (20.32 cm). For the other sides, you can attach a screw every 16 inches (40.64 cm). 

Additional Support

To provide extra firmness to your drywall, you can use a drywall adhesive. However, you should understand that making adjustments after applying the sealant may not be possible. Therefore, you should only use adhesives if you are sure of what you are doing.

Conclusion

I started this article by explaining the type of screw used for drywalls. However, I’ve gone ahead to look at different types of drywall screws, how to differentiate one from the other, and how to choose the one that’s best for your project.

With the information I’ve shared, including the tips for using these screws, you should now be more confident as you tackle any project that requires drywall.

Jedediah Arnold

Jedediah has been working with epoxy resin for a couple of years. When he started, he wanted to share everything he learned as he learned it which continues.

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