What Is a Drywall Hammer Used For?

F.R.R. Mallory

Drywall is also called gypsum plaster, wallboard or Sheetrock. It is composed primarily of gypsum (calcium sulfate) that is added to other ingredients (to add strength, fire retardant, mildew resistance) and mixed into a type of slurry that is heated and sandwiched between two sheets of paper (called liners). When the slurry hardens it becomes rigid enough for use in construction. Drywall replaced lath and plaster construction. Drywall sheets come in standard sizes and are easily installed. Drywall sheets are installed using drywall hammers or screwdrivers.


What Is a Drywall Hammer Used For?

The drywall hammer is designed specifically for drywall installation. According to the experts at Home Time, it has a milled, convex head that may have a serrated face for better grip on the nail. The head has a squared-like shape. The drywall hammer is also sometimes called a drywall axe. This is because opposite the head is an axe-style cutting blade.


This blade is designed for fast rough-cutting holes. Some drywall hammers have magnetic nail starters in the handle and nail pullers in the blade. They come in different weights with different features, with better quality hammers designed to reduce recoil shock. The titanium construction of some hammers will reduce weight, and expensive models may use innovative designs to start nails in awkward locations.


Standard sizes of Sheetrock are 4-by-8 feet (larger sizes are available). The panels come in thicknesses from 1/4-inch to 5/8-inch in 1/8-inch increments. Panels are mounted over studs or framing. The drywall hammer is used to drive ring shank nails into the underlying wood framing. As the hammer impacts the sheetrock it is designed to leave a shallow dimple so that the nail head will recess beneath the surface plane of the finished wall.


The serrated face of the drywall hammer allows the face of the hammer to strike the nail more easily. Most hangers (drywall installers) will hit the nail with a single smooth blow such that the nail seats fully into the dimple. More than one blow risks causing additional dents or damage to the panel face which adds more work during mudding, taping and finishing. The properly weighted hammer for the installer's strength is essential. If a hammer is too heavy it will not be wielded with as much accuracy. Because panel hanging is a nail intensive installation, fast, easy and smooth are the best choices. Most quality hammers have a magnetic starter to assist in holding nails in the install position.

Axe Function

The axe side of the drywall hammer is used to rough cut openings such as for outlets or where the cut will not require joint work. Some hangers are quite fast and accurate at this type of cut process. When a nail is installed improperly, the axe blade often has a puller notched into it. A properly hammered drywall nail will not pop later.