How many screws are needed per sheet of drywall?
The short answer, it depends on your municipality. The general answer, you should use at least one drywall screw every 10-12 inches. This means that for a 4' x 12' sheet of drywall you will probably use around 50 screws on the entire sheet. How so? If the walls studs fall 16 inches on center, a 12 foot long sheet will cover approximately 10 studs. If you hang the drywall perpendicular to the studs, you'll end up using about 5 screws in each stud. So that total comes to about 50 drywall screws. When using drywall adhesive, you can use fewer fasteners but you will still need to consider the following points?
What happens if you don't use enough drywall screws?
Properly fastening drywall is critical to avoid unnecessary repairs in the future. When not enough screws or nails are used to hang drywall, it can lead to cracking or cause screw pops. How can you determine how many drywall screws are really needed when hanging drywall?
Check local building codes first
Building codes vary from location to location. Some building requirements are mandated at a State level while others are set by the county, city, town or other municipality. Some areas require contractors to be licensed and file a permit before hanging drywall. If that is the case, they will usually also require that drywall be inspected after it is hung and before the taping and finishing work begins.
What is looked for during drywall inspections? Among other things, building inspectors verify that a sufficient number of drywall screws or nails are used for each sheet of drywall that was hung. They also check the location and spacing between each fastener. If the building codes in your area include requirements about drywall hanging, please refer to those specific codes to find out how many screws are needed, and what the proper spacing layout should be.
What if building codes in my area don’t cover drywall hanging
Some municipalities do not require permits or inspections for drywall hanging. If that is the case, you can use the principles below to ensure that your drywall is hung in a way that does not lead to unnecessary damage. These principles should cover most residential or commercial construction applications that use lightweight, fire-rated, flexible, moisture control, or standard sheets of drywall.
Drywall screws pattern
Drywall screws should be installed every 12 inches. This means that when using 48 inch wide sheets, you will have 5 screws in each stud when the sheets are hung perpendicular to the framing; two on the edges and 3 in the field. The screws on the perimeter should be at least ⅜ of an inch from the edge to prevent “break-out”.
Drywall nails per sheet
When using drywall nails instead of screws, you should install nails every 6 inches. What about the area between the studs? Since wall studs are usually placed every 16 inches, this means that some nails will have more than 16 inches between them. The general principle to go by is that if there is backing behind the drywall, a drywall nail should be installed on that backing every 6 inches. When using 48 inch wide sheets, this means you will have about 8 nails in each stud if the sheets are hung perpendicular to the framing. The nails on the perimeter should be at least ⅜ of an inch from the edge. This means that for a 4' x 12' sheet of drywall, you will use approximately 72 drywall nails.
If you decide to use drywall adhesive when hanging drywall, you will still need to use screws or fasteners, but not nearly as many. A glob of drywall glue should be used at least every 12 inches along the studs and more in areas where you foresee problems with adhesion. In practice it is usually best to apply a steady stream of glue along the entire stud to ensure consistent adhesion in every part of the sheet of drywall. You will still need to use the same amount of drywall screws or nails along the perimeter of the sheet as you would without using glue, but you will use much less in the field.
Screws should be used every 24 inches in the field of a sheet of drywall to tack the sheet in place while the drywall adhesive dries. When using a 48 inch wide sheet of drywall, this means you will have two screws on each stud, one at each edges of the sheet of drywall, and one screw every other stud in the middle of the sheet.
Other types of drywall
If you are using specialized types of drywall like Glass-Mat liner panels like the ones used in shaft walls, you should refer to the installation guidelines from the manufacturer in order to see what they recommend for number of screws per sheet.
What if the studs are 24″ on center
Most walls are framed with studs every 16 inches. However, ceilings on the upper level of a home or on one story houses may have trusses that are laid out every 24 inches. In either case, there will be either 16 or 24 inches between screws that are on different studs rather than the recommended 12 inches. This is ok as long as the spacing of fasteners along each stud is adhered to. The span between studs should not affect the holding power as much as the spacing between fasteners on each stud.
When it comes to the span between studs when hanging drywall, the type of drywall used is very important. If drywall that is too thin or that does not have enough internal strength is used, the sheet will sag. This is something to consider when hanging drywall on ceilings made of trusses that are 24″ on center.
Before deciding how many drywall screws or nails to use when hanging drywall, it is best to check local building codes. Some municipalities have codes that require more fasteners than what is outlined above. If that is the case, you should always follow local building requirements. Where municipalities do not comment on this detail, the principles above should help you to install drywall in a way that is secure and helps prevent cracking.