Proper Spacing for Drywall Screws

Stan Mack

Attaching drywall is simple, but it has to be done properly. An incorrect installation can eventually lead to “pops”--nail or screw heads that protrude from the drywall surface. Also, improperly-spaced screws can cause boards to sag and dip over time. You can avoid these problems by following some simple rules.

Proper Drywall Installation

Use only drywall nails and screws, which have specially-designed heads that firmly hold up the drywall boards. When inserting a nail or screw, make sure the head is deep enough to cause a dimple in the paper surface of the drywall without breaking through the paper. Most drywall screw guns have a mechanism that allows you to set the exact depth of the screw’s penetration. Test different settings to find the optimal depth. If you accidentally insert a screw too deep, back it out and replace it by inserting a screw right next to the original position.

After measuring and cutting the drywall to size, put it in position. Drywall is somewhat heavy and awkward, so you should temporarily attach the board to the wall studs with a few quick nails around the edges. If you are working alone, poke a few nails into the drywall before lifting it into place so you can hold the board up with one hand and hammer with the other.

After all the drywall boards are in place, permanently attach the boards with drywall screws and a screw gun. Insert a drywall screw every 6 to 8 in. along the length of every wood stud that the drywall covers. Also, insert a screw around the outside edges of the drywall board. The edges of drywall are very fragile, so work carefully. If the drywall crumbles around a screw, that screw is not holding up the board anymore.

After this, insert screws every 6 to 8 in. around all door and window openings. Try to put the screws close to the edge of the openings so that the door and window trim will later cover the screw heads. Make sure the screw heads are not so close to the edge that they break the drywall.

When you finish installing all screws, test all the boards, especially around the door and window openings. Push firmly on them and look for movement. If the board is loose, insert extra screws to stabilize it.